JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office (JCSO) held a memorial service Monday at the Flatirons Church in Genesee for Graffit, the police dog that was killed two weeks ago.
"I think every canine handler wants to believe they have the best canine on the team, but I knew I had the best canine on the team," said Deputy Zachary Oliver, Graffit's handler.
Graffit was shot and killed Feb. 13 while police and deputies were attempting to take into custody a suspect who ran from Jeep that was determined to be stolen on the Colorado School of Mines campus, near 19th and Elm streets.
"He made the ultimate sacrifice that day. I will never forget that," Oliver said. "Graffit was so much more to me than a dog. He was my partner, my best friend and, most of all, family."
>Watch a replay of Monday's memorial service in the video player below:
When Golden Police Department (GPD) officers arrived to assist Colorado School of Mines Police, they found the driver of a Jeep, later identified as Eduardo Romero, slumped over the steering wheel of a vehicle and not responsive to officers' attempts to wake him, police said.
Romero eventually woke up and tried to drive away slowly, police said. He came to a stop at 19th Street and Tangent Way and slumped back over the steering wheel, GPD said.
According to the arrest affidavit, the 2013 Jeep that Romero was driving had been reported stolen from Englewood in December, and the license plates on the vehicle belonged to a different Jeep that had been reported stolen from Denver.
Officers then "pinched" the Jeep to keep Romero from driving any farther, the affidavit says. Romero then rammed an officer's car pushing it about five feet forward, and also struck another officer's car, police said.
Officers broke the driver's side window and put the Jeep into park, GPD said. An officer was able to grab Romero's arm but lost his grip when Romero's watch slipped off, the affidavit says. Romero then got out of the Jeep and ran east on 19th Street, pointing a gun at officers, police said.
Romero ran into a wooded area and police set up a perimeter, GPD said. A shelter-in-place was ordered for the Colorado School of Mines campus as police searched for Romero, police said.
K9 Graffit was brought in to help with the search, GPD said. Graffit was released and given the command to apprehend the suspect, police said.
The suspect fired his gun, striking and killing Graffit, police said. A forensic necropsy on Graffit confirmed that the suspect's bullet killed the dog, the sheriff's office said.
Jeffco Sheriff's police dog Graffit through the years
After the shooting, Jeffco SWAT responded to the scene to search for the suspect, police said. Just before 6 a.m., Romero came out of hiding and surrendered to officers, GPD said.
Romero has been charged with:
- Aggravated cruelty to animals
- Identity theft
- Vehicular eluding
- First-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft
- Driving under the influence
- Resisting arrest
- Obstructing a peace officer
He's being held in the Jefferson County jail under a $300,000 cash-only bail.
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