Ind. State Trooper remembers K-9 partner killed in the line of duty
In a story exclusive to WDRB, Senior Trooper Nate Abbott opened up to Rachel Collier about losing his K-9 partner.
Thursday, August 7th 2014, 2:41 pm EDT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Dogs are known as man's best friend. But one K-9 became every officer's hero last June during a standoff with a dangerous suspect barricaded inside a Sellersburg, Indiana home.
In a story exclusive to WDRB, Senior Trooper Nathan Abbott opened up to our very own Rachel Collier, about losing his K-9 partner.
The audio recordings between officers at the scene and dispatchers relay the chaos on June 24th, 2013.
One radio transmission sounded like this: "All units: the K-9 was shot in the back bedroom on the left!"
Another like this: "Be advised! Officer shot! Officer down! Officer down!"
"It's just a humbling feeling to have an animal save your life, and the lives of your friends," said Abbott.
That day, Abbott sent his K-9 officer, Kilo, into the unknown.
"I patted him on the butt for the last time and sent him down the hallway," said Abbott, with a catch in his throat.
Suspect Joshua Priddy, was hiding in a closet.
"It was two gunshots, then multiple gunshots and there was stuff flying in the kitchen, rounds coming through the drywall," said Abbott.
Clark County Sheriff's detective Chris Proctor was wounded -- but survived.
"It would've been several officers (killed)," Abbot said. "If we got several officers in that small bedroom, it would've been a blood bath.
Law enforcement got out of the house.
Kilo did not.
"We kept calling the dog," Abbott said. "Kilo was a strong dog, if he could get out, he was going to get out; he would've crawled out, but it was instant.Hee never yelped, never barked, it was instant," said Abbott.
For the first time, Abbott is opening up about the ordeal.
"The three big feelings I had were abandonment because I got out of the house and he didn't, and I was overwhelmed with guilt for a while because I sent him in on the situation, and my coworkers tell me, 'Nathan, you did the right thing, that dog saved lives,' and I truly believe that now.
"The last thing was loneliness, I was lonely. It's not an insult to my wife, she understood. She said, 'I can't fill that void, that's a special bond you have with that dog.'"
Abbott and Kilo were a dynamic team -- they worked together for seven years.
. "Our best year, we got about 270 pounds of marijuana, three pounds of cocaine, and we seized over a quarter million dollars in assets."
Abbott grieved the loss of his partner for months.
"For the first probably 3-4 weeks, we just put a towel up over the back door because that's where he laid, we couldn't look outside. It was tough, it's still tough for me to talk about it," Abbott said.
Abbott says his everyday routine brought pain.
"Just the silence in my car was deafening at times, because he wasn't back there, because he was always barking and always whining," Abbott said.
Abbott did not know if he could ever work with a K-9 officer again.
"Kilo's a great dog and he went out the way he should've went out," Abbott said. "He went out a hero, there's no other way to say it."
But sometimes, time -- and animals -- can heal wounds. Abbott now has a new K-9 partner, Hank.
"It was a true blessing," Abbott said. "I'm refreshed, I'm back. It feels good, and at the other end of the leash is where I want to be. People say I'm a better trooper when I have a dog with me."
Hank, a 15-month-old German Shepherd, is in K-9 school, and still has a ways to go.
"He's very friendly. He's a lot more sociable than what Kilo was," Abbott explained. "Kilo was kind of arrogant, didn't like a lot of people around him. This one here, you can still tell he has puppy in him at times, he wants to play a lot."
And destroy things. Abbott snapped a photo of destruction left behind in a room by Hank.
"He doesn't have indoor etiquette yet," Abbott laughed.
Hank and Abbott are already inseparable.
"I had him about 36 hours before Rachel, my wife, was like, 'You're spending a lot of time with that dog!" Abbott said.
They are spending 12 weeks training in Indianapolis, and will then be ready to hit the streets in southern Indiana in October.
"Hank will be a certified patrol dog. He can track, he can apprehend suspects, he can do building searches, so if there's a barricaded subject we can send him in," Abbott explained.
Abbott suits up for bite training, which is important, and so is the way Abbott rewards Hank. It is entertaining to see Abbott rewarding his new partner with high-pitched shouts of praise.
"You gotta get your baby voice going, because the more excited you are, if you're just boring, the dog doesn't want to play with you," he explained. "You've got to be animated, gotta be excited, get the baby voice going, 'good boy!' see, see how he perked up? He's like, where's my toy, right?" he laughed.
Abbott has already envisioned their future together.
"It's fun when you get your first big drug seizure, cash seizure with your dog you're proud of them. It's like a child, you're like, 'you did it! thanks!" he said.
But Hank will do more than sniff out drugs and suspects.
"We track missing children, autistic kids that walked away or Alzheimer's patients from rehab homes, things like that," Abbott said. It's not all about chasing criminals, there's different aspects to it."
While the future looks bright for Hank, Abbott realizes he will never block out what happened to Kilo.
"Don't think it won't be in the back of my mind, when we go search in the middle of the night," Abbott said. "This is a need that our district has, we need these animals out there. They do the jobs that we can't."
It is a new beginning for Abbott -- a new chapter of his career -- with a new sidekick.
"I've got Hank now and I smile," Abbott said. "I'm back where I want to be. K-9 stuff's fun to me.
"I knew that this dog would be an important part of the closure process for when I lost Kilo and it truly is, for me and my family."
Priddy has pleaded guilty to numerous charges and will face a judge Monday afternoon.
The tentative plea agreement is a 20-year sentence -- eight of those in prison, six years on home incarceration or work release if he qualifies, and a final six years on probation.
That hearing gets underway Aug. 11.
Priddy declined a request for an interview.
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