Responding to a domestic violence call, Corporal Thurman and K9 Laslo located 49-year-old Russell E. Bartz hiding in the woods near his residence in the 23800 block of North Elk Chattaroy Road in North Spokane County. When K9 Laslo located Bartz hiding in the woods, Bartz violently punched and held K9 Laslo in a head lock as he twisted K9 Laslo’s neck. Bartz was taken into custody and charged with Assault 4th Degree and Harming a Police Dog.
The incident began on May 24, 2016 at approximately 9:30 p.m., when Deputy John Nave, Deputy David Totman, Corporal Thurman and his K9 partner Laslo responded to the residence for a domestic violence call.
Deputies were told Bartz, who had been drinking alcohol and smelled like paint thinner, fled into the woods near his residence after he was involved in an argument and assaulted the victim.
Corporal Thurman and K9 Laslo, assisted by Deputy Totman, began searching for Bartz while Deputy Nave spoke to the victim. Several K9 announcements were given prior to the search and during, advising Bartz a K9 would be used to find him and if he did not surrender, he may be bitten.
K9 Laslo’s track led through the woods and back toward the residence and shop. Fearing Bartz might be headed back to the residence, Deputy Totman joined Deputy Nave to check for Bartz inside. Corporal Thurman and K9 Laslo continued searching the wooded area close to the residence as Corporal Thurman continued to give K9 announcements which went unanswered.
A few minutes later as Corporal Thurman made his way to Laslo through some very thick brush, he heard K9 Laslo thrashing and a male voice yelling “Get this (expletive) dog!” When Corporal Thurman approached, he observed Bartz holding K9 Laslo in a head lock and was violently punching Laslo in the head as he twisted Laslo’s neck while Laslo continued to try and hold Bartz. Corporal Thurman ordered Bartz to stop hitting Laslo, let him go and to get on his stomach. Bartz stopping punching Laslo but continued to violently twist Laslo’s neck and he refused to release his grip. Corporal Thurman struck Bartz in his forearm which caused Bartz to release Laslo. Corporal Thurman had K9 Laslo release his contact and kept him in a guard position. After hearing the commotion, Deputy Nave and Deputy Totman quickly responded to assist and took Bartz into custody.
Bartz continued to yell and be verbally abusive. At one point he yelled at Corporal Thurman, “You’re lucky I didn’t snap that (expletive) dog’s neck!”
K9 Laslo was not injured during this incident and continued his shift with Corporal Thurman.
Bartz was provided medical treatment and then transported to the Spokane County Jail for Assault 4th Degree and Harming a Police Dog, a misdemeanor and a felony.