Lawmaker renews call for enhanced penalties after IMPD K-9 stabbed during burglary

INDIANAPOLIS — The man accused of stabbing an IMPD K-9 last week is facing numerous preliminary charges including cruelty to a law enforcement animal, which is only a misdemeanor under Indiana law.

One state lawmaker has been working to change that.

“You could get a higher punishment for stealing a police canine than killing him,” Rep. Chris Jeter said. “To me, that is out of balance.”

K-9 Ringo was stabbed while responding to a business break-in at Greene’s Auto and Truck Service on the city’s near south side Friday night.

Police were called to the business around 8 p.m. that night and after unsuccessfully calling for 24-year-old Brandon Ramirez to surrender, K-9 Ringo was sent in.

Police say Ramirez stabbed Ringo three times with a knife before being shot and stun-gunned by responding officers.

“Any time we actively go and look for people, we know that there’s an inherent risk, and we accept that, and so do our partners, every day that we come into work,” said Lt. Melissa Moody. “But this really brought it home. This is a real reality for us.”

Rep. Jeter has filed a bill every year since he’s been elected to enhance the penalties for killing a K-9 officer. He’d like to see injuring a K-9 officer become an aggravating factor and take killing a K-9 from a level 6 to a level 5 felony.

“I think our laws just reflect them as property and I just think there’s a disconnect between that and the way that our communities view them, which is as police officers,” Jeter said.

The pursuit for change came after an incident in Jeter’s district. In November of 2019, a Fishers Police K-9 was shot and killed during a pursuit of a dangerous suspect.

Recent incidents have kept him from continuing to file the bill year after year. He said his bill has passed the House but has never been given a hearing in the Senate.

He believes lawmakers are hesitant to alter the criminal code but says he’ll keep trying.

“I haven’t had a single person tell me that canines aren’t valued. That their lives aren’t worth more than six months in jail,” Jeter said. “I think it’s just a matter of getting my fellow lawmakers comfortable with moving the penalty and convincing them that moving this penalty doesn’t necessarily mean we have to move everything else.”

As for Ramirez, he was taken to a local hospital in critical condition but was stable at the last check.

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