A police dog helped to catch a suspect on the run after midnight on Tuesday, April 9.
After stealing three bottles of vodka and a protein shake from Albertsons, a 20-year-old Kent man eluded police officers for several blocks until a veteran police dog named Vader and his handler, Officer Sam Hovenden, arrived from the Redmond Police Department. Two officers assisted the K-9 unit in tracking the suspect where he had last been seen, in a wooded area above a four-foot retaining wall on a steep incline between Island Crest Way and 80th Avenue S.E.
A Mercer Island police officer had initially encountered the suspect as he was passing McDonalds in the 2800 block of 78th Avenue S.E., after police responded to a 911 hang-up call from Albertsons and the report of the theft, witnessed by a store employee. The officer ordered the suspect to take off his backpack and sit down on the sidewalk. The suspect complied, but as he set the backpack on the ground, he rolled away from the officer, stood up and fled eastbound across the QFC property. The backpack contained two bottles of stolen vodka. The officer chased the suspect to 80th Avenue S.E., where another officer in a patrol car saw the suspect disappear into bushes near the Bank of America, then jump over a wall and run up the hillside toward Island Crest Way.
Mercer Island police set up containment with aid from the Washington State Patrol, Bellevue police and Kirkland police.
With a 30-foot tracking lead, Vader pursued the suspect’s trail over the retaining wall and along a commercial building at the edge of the wooded area. He clued the officers to a bottle of vodka hidden near a large bush and continued on up the hill. When Hovenden realized by Vader’s behavior that they were closing in on the suspect, he gave two warnings to the suspect to surrender, or else the dog would come after him.
When there was no response, “the K-9 was applied to secure the suspect,” according to the police report. Vader took hold of the front of the suspect’s sweatshirt and pulled him out from underneath thick underbrush. Four officers were required to subdue and handcuff the suspect, who would not stop fighting. The suspect did not sustain any puncture wounds, as the dog had only bitten his sweatshirt.
According to the police report, “Vader has proven to be very reliable in locating evidence and suspect(s) in both training and in street application.”
The suspect, who said he had applied for a job at a Brown Bear car wash the previous morning, was booked into the Issaquah Jail on counts of theft and obstructing police. Police returned the stolen vodka, worth $92.97 total, to Albertsons.