The suspected gunman died after a shootout with officers, police say

By Ashley Boucher
November 19, 2020 10:54 PM
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Sjaak
| Credit: Courtesy La Vergne Police Dept.

A police dog was killed in the line of duty this week in Tennessee.

Sjaak of the La Vergne Police Department was shot three times on Tuesday when a man opened fire on his handler's vehicle, the LVPD said in a statement. The Belgian Malinois — whose name is pronounced "Jacques" — was taken to a veterinarian and underwent emergency surgery Wednesday, but did not survive. The dog had been with the department since 2014.

Sjaak's handler, officer Justin Darby, was uninjured in the altercation.

"This is a difficult time for not only Officer Darby and his family, but for our entire department," said interim Police Chief Chip Davis in a statement Thursday following the dog's death. "Sjaak, and the other K9s, are a part of our family. We appreciate everyone who has taken time to reach out to our department in one way or another to offer their prayers and condolences."

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is in charge of the case, which resulted in the death of suspect Jovan Brice, 39.

According to the TBI, Brice drove up alongside Darby's patrol car and fired shots within. Darby then pursued Brice and was joined by other officers in the chase.

Brice "drove into a residential complex" before getting out of his car and firing at the officers, according to a statement from TBI. Officers returned fire, and Brice got back into his car and drove "further into the parking lot, striking a parked vehicle before coming to rest."

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When officers approached Brice, they saw he had a gunshot wound. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A procession was held on Thursday for Sjaak, who was escorted to Faithful Friends Pet Memorial Services in Nashville. The dog will be buried with full honors, La Vergne police said. A memorial will be held for the dog at a later date.