Man accused of hitting Cary K9 officer with stolen truck while fleeing arrested in Burlington.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2023
Cary K9 on the mend, man accused of hitting her with truck in custody
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A Cary man was arrested in Burlington in connection with a Wake County police chase that left a K9 officer injured,

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Cary police officers are breathing a sigh of relief Monday after a man accused of trying to run down a K9 handler and K9 officer was taken into custody.

A Cary man was arrested and charged Monday in connection with a Friday police chase through Cary and Raleigh that left the young police dog injured.

Cary K9 Officer Dakota was struck during the chase.

On Monday, Cary Police said the suspect, Joshua Andrei Whittlesey, 24, was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals at an apartment complex in Burlington.

"The moment Officer Dakota was struck, we didn't pursue it any longer because all our attention turned directly to Dakota," said Kenric Alexander with Cary Police.

Whittlesey was returned to Cary where he now faces felony and misdemeanor charges from the incident that injured Dakota.

The harrowing incident happened Friday when Cary police officers responded to calls about a stolen vehicle from the Rick Hendrick dealership on US 64 around 6:30 p.m. A man entered the dealership and asked a salesman to test drive a Ford truck. During the test drive, he pulled out a gun and told the salesman to get out of the truck.

CPD detectives tracked the suspect to Raleigh. The driver of the stolen truck fled from RPD officers back to Cary and was later found by authorities at the Bliss Convenience Store at Lake Pine Drive and Cary Parkway.

Cary officers, including K9 Handler Officer Michael Herrell, and his partner Dakota, then ordered the suspect to get out of the truck. The driver ignored commands and hit the gas, bearing down on the officers. As Harrell jumped out of the way, the truck struck Dakota in her head and upper body.

Dakota, a 3-year-old Belgian Shepherd, was taken to an emergency veterinary hospital, and as of Monday, continued to receive medical treatment there.

The stolen truck was later found abandoned in Raleigh.

The good news: Dakota was up and walking around Monday night.

"She is much more than a dog," Alexander said. "Once these K9s complete training and come into the police department, they become family and they're treated as family so anything that happens to a police K9 is something that happens to a police officer.

"The bond that she has with Officer Harrell is as tight as any law enforcement officer has anywhere in the country," Alexander added. "Absolutely nothing she won't do for him."

Whittlesey is charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon, larceny of motor vehicle, felony fleeing to elude arrest, possession of a firearm by a felon, assaulting a law enforcement agency animal, assault by pointing a gun, hit and run, assault on law enforcement officers, and resisting, delaying, and obstructing an officer.

"Knowing that the person responsible for hurting her has been captured and will be held accountable for what he's done is great," Alexander said.

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