First K-9 in SPD history to receive Purple Heart - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

First K-9 in SPD history to receive Purple Heart

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SPOKANE, Wash. -  Var, the Spokane Police dog shot and injured by a car theft suspect March 17, will be awarded a Purple Heart at the Spokane City Council meeting Monday night. Var's handler returned fire killing the suspect, 22-year-old Johnnie Longest. Var had been brought out of retirement to fill a void in police dogs when he was shot.

A police committee decided April 8 to award the medal to Var. Var and his handler, Danny Lesser, will accept the award at the meeting around 6 p.m. 

This will be the fifth Purple Heart awarded by the Spokane Police Department and the first to a K9.

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Officers involved in deadly shooting cleared for duty; K-9 recovering

The two Spokane Police Department officers involved in the deadly shooting of a car theft suspect in North Spokane were cleared to return to active duty following an evaluation with a department psychologist.

Senior Patrol Officer Dan Lesser and Sgt. Brent Austin were evaluated Tuesday and cleared to return to work for their next regularly scheduled shifts according to police spokesperson Ofc. Jennifer DeRuwe. Spokane Police Department policy requires that officers involved in a shooting take a three day break from duty and meet with a psychologist before returning to duty.

Ofc. Lesser and Sgt. Austin were involved in a confrontation with Johnnie L. Longest III in an alley in North Spokane on the night of March 17th after a brief car chase. The incident began when a Spokane Police officer tried to stop Longest on suspicion of reckless driving near the intersection of Division & Longfellow.  >>More

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