Alameda police say the department’s K-9 unit could be back on the street this month if officials can wrap up their investigation into what caused a police dog to attack an officer, which led the officer to shoot and kill it.
But what still remains unknown is why the animal bit the female officer in her arm as she investigated a burglary at the U.S. Coast Guard office on Central Avenue. She was not the dog’s handler.
“To be honest, we may never know exactly why it happened,” Alameda police Lt. Paul Rolleri said.
A necropsy performed on Billy, a Belgian Malinois, after the shooting did not show evidence that the dog was suffering from a medical condition that may have caused it to behave aggressively.
An internal investigation also did not find any procedural problems within the K-9 unit that could have caused the dog to attack without warning.
“We wanted to make sure that going forward there was nothing we needed to tighten up,” Rolleri said Wednesday. “At this point, it appears as if the unit will be back in play within two or three weeks.”
A separate internal police investigation into why the officer discharged her firearm is ongoing.
The woman, a two-year department veteran whose name was not released, remains on medical leave.
Meanwhile, a judge in Alameda County Superior Court last week granted a defense request to drop felony charges against Douglas Wayne Kirk, who was arrested at the scene Dec. 17 on suspicion
of burglarizing the recruiting center.
The 56-year-old Kirk still faces misdemeanor charges in connection with the case.
Kirk has a criminal history dating back to 1973, including arrests for robbery and for resisting police. But he also has a history of mental illness, which led the judge to approve dropping the felony charges.
Kirk is expected to appear in court again on Jan. 19.
The shooting of Billy marked the second death of an Alameda police dog last year.
Another Belgian Malinois died in May after its Alameda police handler left the dog alone for about three hours and 15 minutes in his personal Sport Utility Vehicle while he attended a police training exercise.
Assistant District Attorney Charlotte Green decided not to file charges against the officer saying there was insufficient evidence to prove that the officer acted unreasonably.
Police records show Billy was responsible for three “bites” during his career. Each bite involved a suspect and fell within department guidelines, police said.
Billy served under a single handler for his entire career until the officer decided not to continue in the K-9 unit. The new handler took over Billy in September and trained with the dog for eight weeks before the pair hit the streets together.
Just two dogs are now in the Alameda police K-9 unit, which was formed in 1992.
By Peter Hegarty