Courtesy Lee County Sheriff's Office
June 25, 2015 04:15 PM

A Florida police dog named Kilo recently taught an alleged shoplifter “respect,” says Lt. Jeff Dektas with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

Liferein Lenord Bell was allegedly shoplifting at a Walmart in Fort Myers, Florida, on June 12. When deputies arrived at the scene, Bell, 25, became “combative,” telling officers that he was “not going to jail,” Dektas tells PEOPLE.

“It was a complete free-for-all and he got loose and ran off. But Kilo tracked him to some bushes where he was hiding about a half mile down the road,” Dektas says.

Police ordered Bell to come out of the bushes or they would send Kilo, a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois, in to get him. When Bell refused, Kilo plunged into the bushes and ended up biting Bell on the arm.

“But [Bell] got Kilo around the neck, pinned him and used his weight to choke him,” says Dektas. “He had a pretty good grip around his neck. Officers could hear the squeal of Kilo trying to get loose but within seconds his body went limp. They were scared and really wondered if he had killed him.”

Thinking that their four-legged cohort had been killed, officers decided to wade into the underbrush and retrieve Bell themselves, but within “about ten seconds” Kilo suddenly “woke up ticked off and started gnawing on Bell. He got him on the left arm and wrist.”

Bell finally “gave up” after that and was transported to a nearby hospital for medical attention. He was later charged with numerous crimes, including theft and using a deadly weapon on a police animal. Kilo was rushed to a vet and was treated for numerous lacerations on his face.

“This guy had no respect for Kilo,” says Dektas, “but he probably does now.”

Kilo’s attack marks the second time in a year that a canine with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office was nearly killed while trying to apprehend a suspect. In July 2014, a police dog named Triton jumped into a canal while chasing down a 29-year-old suspect who had led police on a lengthy car chase. The man ended up hitting Triton and attempted to hold his head underwater before officers were able to take him into custody.

Kilo, whom Dektas describes as “goofy, playful and intense,” is back “to full duty, catching bad guys.”

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