Police Dog Stabbed to Death by MS-13 Gang Member

by State Brief

Law enforcement in Virginia is mourning the death of a police dog who was fatally stabbed by incarcerated members of MS-13.

The Virginia Department of Corrections announced on April 3 that Rivan, a Belgian Malinois assigned to a corrections office, was killed in the line of duty at Sussex I State Prison. The dog’s handler, Corrections Officer Kharmishia Phillip Fields, intervened after three inmates attacked another inmate in a housing unit.

The three aggressors are known to have ties to the MS-13 gang.

“Rivan was violently and repeatedly stabbed and kicked by the inmates and later tragically died at the facility while VADOC staff attempted lifesaving measures,” the department said in a statement. “Officer Phillip Fields, a trained K-9 handler and 4-year veteran of the Department, sustained no serious injuries due to her training and Rivan’s courageous actions. Order was restored by Officer Phillip Fields, responding Corrections Officers, and Rivan’s actions.”

The inmate who was attacked was taken to a local hospital and treated for his injuries.

The VADOC did not name the inmates involved in the attack are from El Salvador and Guatemala. According to The Washington Times, the inmates are currently serving sentences for “first-degree homicide, attempted rape, kidnapping, malicious wounding and child pornography, among other offenses.”

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin publicly mourned Rivan’s death.

God bless Rivan, a heroic K-9 who was killed in the line of duty in Virginia,” Youngkin said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “These barbaric members of MS-13 will be held accountable.”

VADOC Director Chad Dotson expressed his sympathy for Rivan’s handler and said the incident “underscores the importance” of the department’s K-9 program. 

“The loss of Rivan is truly tragic, but it is important to remember he did not die in vain. He lost his life while potentially saving the lives of two people, his assigned Officer and an inmate. The VADOC will never forget Rivan’s sacrifice,” said Dotson.

“K-9s play a vital role at our facilities,” he continued. “They protect our correctional staff. They protect our inmates and also deter aggressive inmate behavior.”

Dotson added that “Officer Phillip Fields has the agency’s full support during this difficult time.”

“The heroics she displayed during this brutal assault demonstrate her courage, her commitment to public safety, and her care for the safety of the inmate population,” said the director.

Rivan would have turned six on April 30. The dog was certified in July 2019. He was bred from a police dog from Southwest Virginia and K-9 used by the United States Secret Service.

The VADOC is investigating the incident and plans to hold a memorial service for Rivan.

K-9s are used in prisons to assist with crowd control, conduct narcotics searches, and to track.

“In today’s world of media scrutiny and financial liability, the goal of public safety is to gain compliance without force,” noted Corrections 1. “The presence of K-9s in correctional settings provides the opportunity to deter unwanted behaviors before they occur, while also giving staff an effective tool to deal with situations when they do occur.”

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