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Fallen police dog remembered by handler

Graffit, a K-9 for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, was shot and killed by a suspect earlier this week, according to police.

GOLDEN, Colo. — Outside of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, a memorial continues to see community members dropping off flowers and notes to honor the life of Graffit, a 10-year-old German Shepherd who served in the K-9 unit. 

But inside the sheriff's office Thursday, Graffit's handler reflected on the dog's life both on and off duty. 

"He was full of energy. He was nonstop running around, and he loved nothing more in life than his Kong. When he was at the house, he was almost...he was just a house dog that was running around 50 miles per hour," said JCSO Deputy and K-9 handler Zachary Oliver. 

Oliver shared memories and a sentiment to honor the dog that not only was a member of the department, but a member of the family.

"He was truly part of the family. My four-year-old daughter and my 11-year-old both say that it's their police dog, too," he said.

Credit: Byron Reed
K-9 Graffit's picture on a memorial outside of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

According to police, Graffit was chasing after a suspect who attempted to escape police after he was found slumped over in his car. The search for the suspect prompted a shelter in place order in the area of the Colorado School of Mines

Graffit was given the command to apprehend the suspect, police said. The suspect fired shots, striking and killing Graffit, according to Golden Police.

The suspect later came out of hiding and surrendered to police. 

"It's my whole department's partner. He's been on calls for many of us, and he sacrificed himself so that me and my partners didn't get killed," Oliver said. 

Oliver thanked the community for the support he and his wife have recently received. 

"I just know how much he meant to me. But it's unbelievable to know how much he meant to everyone else," he said. "It's very unfortunate what happened to Graffit, but in all honesty, it shows me how important the work that I'm doing with these dogs and that all these handlers do with these dogs is and I don't think I could ever have it any other way."

Credit: KUSA
K-9 Handler and sheriff's deputy Zachary Oliver, joined by his wife Alicia, speak to reporters on Feb. 16.

Both Oliver and the sheriff's office K-9 trainer, Jim Valbert, expressed their advocacy for stronger punishments for suspects who kill police dogs in the line of duty. 

"And I really hope that someday in the future, maybe something could change about that, because these dogs are more than just a typical animal," Oliver said. 

9NEWS legal expert Scott Robinson said this week that injuring a police dog is a class one misdemeanor and could be punishable by up to a year in jail. But a more serious charge the suspect could face is aggravated cruelty to animals, which is a class 6 felony and punishable by up to three years in prison and a $100,000 fine. 

"For this to happen and for the charge to be a cruelty to animals, that should not happen. It needs to be much more than that," said Valbert. 


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