A dog took the bullet for his handler when he charged after three criminals who were evading police. Deputy Brandon Surrat told the judge earlier this month at a hearing that Hyco likely stopped the bullet meant for him after he and the dog responded to a [false] report of a carjacking. Citizens, outraged by the killing of K-9 Hyco, petitioned to increase the penalties for killing a police dog. As of Nov. 24, three legislators have taken up the cause and plan to introduce legislation to increase offender consequences for wounding or killing law-enforcement animals.
Representatives Jonathon Hill and Neal Collins are introducing “Fargo’s and Hyco’s Law.” In 2011, the Richland County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Fargo was killed by an armed robber. K-9 Hyco is from the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office. Their bill increases the maximum prison sentence from five years to ten years for killing a police dog or police horse. In addition, “the offense also would carry a minimum two-year jail sentence and a fine of up to $20,000. Abuse of a police animal would get a maximum jail sentence of five years with a $5,000 fine. Hill and Collins plan to file their bill in December.
Both representatives are committed to their proposed legislation. Collins [R-Easley] considered the existing punishment for hurting or killing a police animal as “just a slap on the wrist.” Hill [R-Townville] stated that law-enforcement animals are “valuable assets and valuable members.”
Similar legislation is being drafted by Sen. Kevin Bryant [R-Anderson]. Bryant’s maximum charge for the killing of a police dog is $30,000. He said the current fine, ranging between $2,000 and $5,000 for killing a police dog, “is way to low” due to steep costs for dogs and training.
According to Hill, the Anderson County House members support his and Collins’ bill that also includes penalties for killing guide and service animals. Rep. Jenny Horne [R-Summerville] is planning to co-sponsor the bill with Hill and Collins. The bill sponsors consider an above-average chance of approval for Fargo’s and Hyco’s Law since Hyco’s death happened recently and received such an outpouring of public attention.
Anderson County Sheriff’s Office John Skipper is fully supportive of increasing the penalties for harming or killing law enforcement animals.
The incident started when 23-year-old Shirlandria Shaqua Dixon, Seneca, filed a false carjacking report. She is presently out on $20,000 bail. The three criminals that Hyco was chasing were Sergio Montez Martin, 23, David Morris Jr., 22, and Martavious Craig, 18. They are being held in the Anderson County Detention Center without bond, each “charged with two counts of attempted murder, killing a police dog and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.”
Well over 1,000 people came to the memorial service for police dog Hyco at the Civic Center of Anderson.