Exactly three months after being shot in the head and losing an eye, a DeKalb County police K-9 was hailed as a hero and received the Medal of Honor, the highest award given by the police department.
K-9 Indi, who was injured after tracking down the man who had shot and killed an officer, officially returned to the police force Wednesday. In an awards ceremony with Chief James Conroy and county CEO Michael Thurmond outside the police headquarters in Tucker, Indi was also awarded the Meritorious Service award, the local equivalent of a Purple Heart.
“He saved lives that night,” Conroy said after the awards ceremony. “It truly was heroic.”
Indi’s trainer, Officer Norman Larson, received the Exceptional Merit award Wednesday.
On December 13, 2018, Brandon Taylor, 33, had fled after shooting Officer Edgar Flores, 24, multiple times, Conroy said. Taylor was hidden behind rows of tires as officers — including Indi — searched for him near the scene of the shooting off Candler Road.
“K-9 Indi was able to smell him and say, ‘There he is,’ and engaged him before he could ambush the police officers,” Conroy said.
After Taylor shot Indi, other officers shot and killed Taylor.
Indi, who lost his right eye, has been recovering since the incident and successfully completed training and recertification, according to the North American Police Work Dog Association’s Georgia chapter.
“I pretty much knew (he could return) when they took the stitches out,” Larsen said. “He wasn’t showing anything different.”
Larsen said Indi had a drive to return to duty that was apparent Wednesday, as the 7-year-old dog sat alert and attentive at his trainer’s side during the ceremony.
Tracking has always been Indi’s strong suit.
“To me, it makes for a lot of fun,” Larsen said.
Larsen has been Indi’s trainer since the dog was 1, and they are an especially close duo.
“My feet can’t hit the floor without him jumping out of the bed and staring at me,” he said.
Wednesday was not the first time the Belgian Malinois was honored for his heroics; he and Larsen were recognized in 2016 as the officers of the year for DeKalb County.
In his more than 500 times being sent out, Indi has been responsible for 230 felony and misdemeanor arrests and apprehended more than 75 suspects. He’s sniffed out drugs worth more than $3.7 million in total street value and found nearly $100,000 in cash.
“We celebrate K-9 Officer Indi,” Thurmond said, “for heroic efforts he made to ensure that we are safe and secure in DeKalb County.”
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