Diesel, a police K9 for the Bartholomew County Sheriff's Department (Indiana)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- An Indiana police K-9 has died after a police pursuit of a suspect Saturday night, according to a report by Fox 59.

The Bartholomew County Sheriff's Department said deputies were in pursuit of a domestic battery suspect around 4:20 p.m. in the area of 600 S and 650 W when the suspect fled into nearby woods located alongside Interstate 65.

K-9 Diesel chased the suspect while his handler stayed behind to watch two separate occupants. The sheriff's department said Diesel was then found dead next to the interstate. 

At this time, the sheriff's department said Diesel's cause of death is not known.

Police say the suspect, who was later identified as 36-year-old Michael Stephens, was found hiding in a ditch. Stephens was arrested on the following outstanding warrants and additional preliminary charges:

Warrant:

  • Count 1: Domestic Battery committed in the presence of a child less than 16 years old
  • Count 2: Domestic Battery committed in the presence of a child less than 16 years old

New preliminary charges include cruelty to a law enforcement animal, resisting law enforcement, domestic battery, intimidation and strangulation.

Stephens is currently being held in the Bartholomew County Jail on a 48-hour hold, according to the Bartholomew County Sheriff's Office. 

The victim in the domestic battery was said to have been taken to a hospital for injuries. 

Diesel was taken to the sheriff's department where his handler and his family were given time with the K9.

"I am absolutely heartbroken," Bartholomew County Sheriff Matthew A. Myers said. "I am stuck at home with COVID when I need to be with my deputies."

The sheriff's department said this is a time for mourning for both their agency and the community. They will not release any further information at this time in honor of both the time for mourning and the active and ongoing investigation.

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