Officer John Yuhasz
Tacoma Police Department
K-9 Zeke, a 121 pound black German Shepard with the Tacoma K-9 Unit, died 19 hours after successfully tracking Troy Douglas Johnson, a domestic violence suspect. A Sergeant at the scene reported that once Zeke appeared to have caught Johnson, the dog began to yelp, limped into a street, and lay down bleeding. Yuhasz went to the aid of the dog which had a deep puncture wound to it’s shoulder.
Two officers eventually apprehended Johnson, but first he threatened the officers by waving a knife toward them when they got close. When he refused to drop the weapon, officers there with night sticks struck him several times in the arms and legs. The blows had no apparent affect, and one of the officers then struck Johnson once in the head with a baton and he dropped the knife.
At the hospital where he was being examined, the defendant continued being uncooperative, attempting to spit on the officers and explicitly threatening on several occasions to kill the hospital staff and officers who where at the scene. “One of the real ironies in this area of police work is that the animal itself becomes a much closer partner than a human partner does,” said Sgt. Richard Geyer of Tacoma’s K-9 unit. “The animal becomes so much a part of the family, it’s considered basically like a child.”
In 1986, Zeke hadn’t even been on the force for a year when Yuhasz was struggling with an assault suspect near the edge of a cliff. The suspect was trying to push Yuhasz over the edge, but Zeke knocked the suspect to the ground to save Yuhasz.
When he appeared in court Tuesday, Johnson arm and face where badly scratched and his head was stitched above his hairline.