NORWALK, Conn. -- A man armed with two steak knives charged a Norwalk Police officer Saturday but found himself dealing with the officer’s police dog, Czar, who probably saved the officer's life, according to Sgt. Andre Velez. Czar, who was stabbed through the tongue, also made it unnecessary for the officer to use deadly force.
Sgt. James Walsh and Officer Frank Reda, Czar's handler, responded to a 12:58 p.m. report of a man with a knife on Chapel Street, and found four men with knives threatening a man who had armed himself with a hammer. Walsh chased one of the men as Reda engaged in what Velez described as "hand to hand combat in defense of the suspect's aggressive attack with two knives." The four men, Jose Salamayor, 22, of 26 Orchard St., Jose Morales, 25, of West Haven, Luis Oliva, 27, of Bridgeport and David Oliva, 20, of Bridgeport were arrested on charges that included breach of peace, interfering with an officer, conspiracy, criminal attempt, assault and carrying a dangerous weapon.
Salamayor, who was taken to Norwalk Hospital to be treated for the injuries he received in the fight with Czar, was also charged with cruelty to animals. Velez was unhappy that he could not be given a more serious charge under Connecticut laws for injuring Czar. Salamayor and Luis Oliva were also charged with assault on a police officer.
Velez described Czar as a "courageous and brave police dog" who "probably saved the life of Officer Reda by engaging the armed suspect, who had two knives. The dog suffered numerous cuts to the head area and never abandoned his defense of Officer Reda."
The incident began when the four suspects got out of a black Volkswagen, each holding knives from a butcher set, to threaten a man walking on Chapel Street, police say. The victim thought he would be stabbed and ran to his front porch and got the help of his brothers, one of whom grabbed a hammer.
Police say that when they arrived the four guys with knives were screaming at the other men. Two of the men dropped their knives, but Morales ran toward Leonard Street, still carrying a knife. Walsh chased him, yelling for him to drop the weapon.
Reda began to follow with Czar, but residents yelled at him, pointing to Salamayor standing in the doorway of a home, Velez said. Salamayor raised his clenched left hand over his head, showing that he was holding two steak knives.
Reda backed away from the suspect and commanded the dog to alert. He yelled at Salamayor to drop the knives, but Salamayor yelled and waved the knives over his head, police said. He then charged Reda, waving the knives over his head.
Czar kept Reda from being stabbed by biting Salamayor in the stomach. The suspect dropped one knife, police said, and attacked the dog around his mouth. Czar let go of Salamayor's stomach and then grabbed him again in the groin area. Reda hit Salamayor in the face, causing him to fall and drop the knife, but Salamayor kept punching and kicking Czar.
Reda might have used his taser to stop the altercation, but Luis Oliva grabbed him and tried to pull him backwards so Salamayor could escape, Velez said. Reda subdued Oliva, and another officer arrived, allowing him to call off Czar.
Meanwhile, Walsh apprehended Morales in the foot pursuit.
Velez said alcohol was involved in the incident and praised the training officers receive from Emergency Services Unit personnel. "It's fortunate that we have a very well-trained and diversified police department, where we can deploy resources such as ESU-trained officers Sgt. Walsh and Officer Reda, who is also a canine handler with much experience." He praised the "outstanding response," and the "restraint and level of professionalism displayed in this case where it was an obvious situation where the application of deadly force seemed justified if it had not been for the police canine."
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