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Ventura County

Officer Testifies Suspect Killed His Canine Partner

June 13, 2002|TRACY WILSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An Oxnard man wanted on a felony warrant pulled a knife on an arresting officer, fled and then fatally stabbed a police dog that had been ordered to apprehend him, the officer testified Wednesday.

Officer Robert Perez told a Ventura County Superior Court judge that he saw Timothy Knight, 20, move his right hand, which was holding the knife, in an upward motion after the dog grabbed him.

Perez testified that there was no way his canine partner, Rudy, could have jumped onto the knife, given the location of the wound.

The 4-year-old Belgian Malinois was stabbed once in the left lower chest and died after being rushed to a pet emergency clinic after the April 19 incident. Rudy was the Oxnard Police Department's first dog to die in the line of duty.

Knight is charged with harming a police dog, resisting arrest, exhibiting a weapon to a police officer while resisting arrest and violating his probation on a stolen property case. He is being held in jail in lieu of $510,000 bail.

During a preliminary hearing Wednesday, Knight sat at a counsel table dressed in a jail uniform, his hands shackled at his waist.

According to court testimony, Knight was wanted on an outstanding warrant on the evening of April 19 when an Oxnard police officer attempted to pull him over for allegedly not wearing a seat belt.

Knight ran into a residential neighborhood, and police officers went door to door looking for him, witnesses testified.

Claudia Reyes, a neighbor who knew the Knight family, testified that she later agreed to give Knight a ride to a convenience store.

An Oxnard police officer saw Knight getting into the vehicle and radioed the information to other officers, according to testimony.

When Reyes pulled around a corner in west Oxnard, Perez recognized the description of the car and pursued it, he testified. When the car was pulled over, he ordered the man in the back seat to get out.

It was Knight, he testified. The defendant got out on the opposite side of the car, Perez said, and pulled out a knife.

"I immediately drew my service weapon and took a few steps back," Perez testified. "I continually told him to drop the knife."

Instead, Knight backed away and then ran toward a residential neighborhood. Perez ordered Rudy, who was waiting in the police car, to stop the suspect, the officer testified.

When the dog reached Knight, he said, the defendant turned, still holding the knife, and Rudy grabbed his right arm.

Perez said he saw Knight move his hand upward, Rudy stumble and the knife fall to the ground. Knight then began hitting the dog on the head and Perez tackled the suspect, the officer testified. It wasn't until later that Perez noticed blood on the ground, realized the dog had been stabbed and rushed Rudy to a veterinary clinic in Ventura.

Before they left the scene, Perez testified, he heard Knight taunting: "You should have just shot me."

On cross-examination, Knight's lawyer questioned the police tactics in apprehending his client.

At the conclusion of Wednesday's hearing, Superior Court Judge Colleen Toy White found there was sufficient evidence to order Knight to stand trial on the charges. A trial date is expected to be set later this month.

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