In Loving Memory of
The "playful" side of Mako.
Deputy Dennis R. Cunningham
515 - 11th Street
so quickly...reactions were to save the officer. A real tragedy! A
Manatee County deputy shot and killed a K-9 Corps dog early Saturday
after the canine attacked him. Mako and Deputy Jeff Dunn wrestled after
the dog mistook him for a car jacking suspect. The dog bit the deputy in
the arm and hand and would not let go, even after being ordered by his
canine handler. Dunn shot Mako, who may not have heard the commands or
was confused in all of the commotion, sheriff's spokesman Dave Bristow
said. "There were lots of lights and sirens going off," Bristow said.
"Nobody feels as bad about this as Dunn. He's a canine handler himself."
Dunn was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital, where he received 14
stitches. This is the first time in decades that a deputy has had to
shoot a police dog, Bristow said. Any time a deputy is involved in a
shooting, the department usually conducts an internal investigation. The
shooting occurred shortly after 12 a.m. near Ninth Street East and 35th
Avenue in Bradenton. Deputies were searching for a car jacking suspect,
who forced a man out of his truck and drove off in it. The deputies
spotted the vehicle in the same area, after the owner called 911.
Deputies chased the suspect, later identified as Kenneth Whitfield, for
10 minutes. He ran from the car, and canine units were called in to look
for him. Whitfield was captured and charged with car jacking, fleeing
to elude and having no valid driver's license. This was not the first
violent incident for Mako and his handler, Deputy Dennis Cunningham.
Outside of the Outer Limits nightclub last October, Cunningham and Mako
were attempting to clear the parking lot. After Cunningham signaled for
club patron Craig Holloman to leave, Halloman ran over the five year
veteran and Mako with his car, reports said. Cunningham could see his
attacker smiling while running him over, he said in his report.
Cunningham got up, drew his weapon and ordered Holloman out of the car,
but the deputy was hit with the car again. Holloman, who had gotten out
of his vehicle, did not have the car in park.
Bristow, Keith Noordzy Sr. & "Rich," Thank
You for all of your help in presenting the
facts in this tragedy.
he part about
Deputy Cunningham giving the dog a command to release is
Deputy Dunn was giving the dog the command to release. Since Mako was
dog, Mako would not release. Deputy Cunningham did not realize that his
dog was attacking Deputy Dunn until
he heard the gunshots.
A correction to the story as follows:
eased K-9 Mako on the suspects of the truck
as they ran from it. K-9 Mako followed the passenger and Cunningham
followed Mako. The driver turned and got back into the truck. Deputy
Cunningham grabbed the driver to keep him from running the truck into a
deputy or starting the chase again. No one realized another deputy was
on the other side of the suspect's vehicle. Mako came around the truck
and grabbed the deputy by the hand. Deputy Cunningham got in a brief
struggle with the other potentially armed suspect, when he got a back-up
unit to grab the suspect. Cunningham went for Mako, but it was too
late. Deputy Dunn had to do what he did not want to. Deputy Dunn and
Cunningham are very good friends and continue today. K-9 Mako did what
he was trained to do. The suspects created the confusion ultimately
leading to Mako's untimely death. Mako spent three years certified on
the road with 75 apprehensions and numerous narcotic alerts. He recently
spent 4 hours tracking a burglary suspect through a residential
neighborhood catching him in a house. This ended a crime spree of that
area. The arrest totals are amazing considering the Deputy Dunn and K-9
Bronco accumulated 80 plus apprehensions during the same period. The
two K-9 teams worked the same times together and frequently helped each
other on tracks. The arrest totals are only the arrests the K-9 found
during his service.
"THEY WORKED HARD
FOR THEIR COMMUNITY
TO MAKE IT