PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The man accused of leading police on a chase, injuring three officers and killing a police K-9 officer was arraigned Friday.
John Rush is being held on $1 million bail.
He appeared in court Friday via closed circuit television from the Allegheny County Jail. Rush is charged with abusing a police animal, disarming a law enforcement officer and aggravated assault.
Rush led police on a chase Tuesday night through Lawrenceville after an officer spotted him. Rush, a 21-year-old Megan’s Law offender, was wanted on probation/parole violations.
When police tried to arrest Rush, he reached for a deputy’s gun and was Tazed. He then fled the scene and was found hiding in a building on Butler Street.
While searching the building, Pittsburgh Police officers, K-9 officer Rocco and his handler located Rush hiding in the basement.
Police say Rush lunged forward at the three officers and the K-9, wildly swinging a pocket knife.
After a brief struggle, he was placed under arrest.
Two officers suffered minor injuries in the scuffle. However, K-9 officer Rocco was stabbed with a six-inch blade and suffered significant injuries. Despite undergoing two surgeries and blood transfusions, Rocco died from his injuries Thursday night.
Rush is charged under a special law that makes it a felony to taunt police animals and to torture police animals.
For that he faces three-and-a-half to seven years in prison. But since Rocco’s death, state lawmakers are talking about toughening the law to make it a mandatory five years in prison for attacking a police dog.
Many in the community have rallied around Rocco.
“He’s a poor animal who was only doing what he was trained to do,” said one Pittsburgher.
“I feel bad for the police force because he’s one of them,” added another.
Mayor Bill Peduto ordered flags to fly at half-staff Friday and Rocco will be laid to rest with full honors.
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