Suspect loses finger after allegedly choking Salem K-9

K-9 Duke was back on patrol Sunday morning

A police dog in Salem was back on patrol Sunday, just one day after being choked to unconsciousness by a suspect. (KOIN)
A police dog in Salem was back on patrol Sunday, just one day after being choked to unconsciousness by a suspect. (KOIN)

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — A police dog in Salem was back on patrol Sunday, just one day after being choked to unconsciousness by a suspect he helped capture.

Police said K-9 Duke and his handler, Officer Bruce Finneran, responded to a man acting unusually in the area of 15th Street and Wilbur Street SE around 1 p.m. Saturday.

The man, Justin Lazo, had an open warrant from Clackamas County. K-9 Duke was used to help catch Lazo, but the man was able to grab him by the collar and began choking him.

“I was convinced he was going to die,” Officer Finneran said. “I said, ‘you need to get him off that dog or the dog is going to die’ because he was no longer able to get air.”

Justin Lazo is accused of choking Salem Police K-9 Duke on Saturday. (MCSO)
Justin Lazo is accused of choking Salem Police K-9 Duke on Saturday. (MCSO)

Officers caught up to Duke and used a Taser and pepper spray to subdue Lazo.

At one point during the struggle, Lazo got one of his fingers stuck in Duke’s collar. It was badly injured and later had to be amputated.

Duke was checked at an animal hospital and given a clean bill of health.

“He’s not showing any signs that yesterday had any effect on him,” Finneran told KOIN 6 News.

Lazo is facing a series of charges including attempted assault on a law enforcement animal, interfering with a police animal, resisting arrest, interfering with a peace officer and giving false information.

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