PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A suspect is dead after an officer-involved shooting in Phoenix early Thursday morning, the Phoenix Police Department said. A police K-9 who was shot by a suspect is being considered a hero for his role in the incident.

Phoenix police said the incident started shortly after 3:30 a.m. when officers responded to a report of shots fired at an apartment complex near Dunlap and 19th avenues. When officers arrived there, they found a man who was dead in the common area of the complex. The Phoenix Police Department on Friday identified him as Demeatris Roberson, 30.

During the search for the homicide suspect, police officers were directed to another apartment in the complex.

According to police, K-9 "Dennis" was the first to enter the suspect's apartment and was shot by the suspect. At this point, officers retreated from the apartment and the suspect, later identified as 42-year-old Maurice Jackson, came out armed. Police say five officers then fired their weapons.

Jackson was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say they recovered his handgun. No one else was hurt in the incident.

According to Sgt. Ann Justus of the Phoenix Police Department, Jackson and Roberson knew each other and "had an ongoing dispute." While she did not provide any details, she did say it looks like Jackson is "a strong person of interest" in Roberson's murder.

Dennis Phoenix Police K9

"Dennis", a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois 

Dennis, a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois, received serious injuries. He was transported to an area animal hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. He is being credited with saving the lives of the officers who first responded to the suspect's apartment. Dennis has been with the department for more than four years. Justus said Friday that he is now recovering at home with his handler.

Part of the family

Daniel Bill is a K-9 trainer and handler with the City of Phoenix. He wasn't at the scene Thursday morning, but did talk to Arizona's Family about the role canines play with patrol officers. While the dogs are working animals, Bill says officers spend so much time with them, they become part of the family.

"It's always hard," Bill said. "A friend of mine from the fire department called this morning and let me know what was going on. Your heart sinks."

Bill says the highly trained dogs aren't brought in to every situation.

"It's a fine line," Bill said. "So if we know someone is in a building and he's made statements that he's threatened to hurt us and we know he's armed, we don't just send dogs in to get hurt."

The canines help keep officers safe, including Dennis, and are often used to help find hidden suspects. In a world of unknowns, dogs' keen sense of smell does what a human's noes can't.

"If you don't use that dog, you have four or five guys going through a small structure, lifting up couch cushions, opening up dark closets, putting their heads in places," Bill said. "That dog will go in there and smell where that odor is coming from with that hidden suspect and get there first."

K-9 Dennis receiving care

Other Phoenix-area police K-9s killed in the line of duty

The last Phoenix K-9 to make headlines like Dennis was Bane, who was killed in the line of duty in April 2018. The suspect in that case was a man who led officers on a high-speed chase before getting into a standoff with law enforcement. He was eventually sentenced to 25.75 years in prison as part of a plea deal. 

Death of Phoenix police K-9 Bane shines light on dogs' important roles in crime-fighting

A little more than a year ago, the El Mirage Police Department lost one of it K-9s -- Koki -- in an officer-involved shooting. Officers were trying to talk to a man wanted for aggravated assault, but he ran away. The officers went after him and that's then shots were fired. Police said the suspect later killed himself.

K-9, suspect dead in El Mirage officer-involved shooting

Drone video from the area Thursday morning's shooting showed dozens of police SUVs at the scene. Arizona's Family reporter Gibby Parra said Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams was there, as well. There also were several police vehicles at a nearby apartment building.

Officer-involved shooting at 19th and Dunlap avenues

Traffic was restricted in the area of 19th and Dunlap avenues while police conducted the on-scene portion of their investigation.

Phoenix police say the officers involved were:

  • A 25-year-old male, 4 years of service
  • A 24-year-old male, 4 years of service
  • A 31-year-old male, 2 years of service
  • A 25-year-old male, 2 years of service
  • A 31-year-old male, 4 years of service

This was the 51st officer-involved shooting in the Phoenix area this year. There have been 26 more shootings involving law enforcement in the rest of the state in 2020.


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