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Ind. man found guilty of killing police K-9; acquitted for shooting at officer

The man shot and killed Gary police K-9 Falco during a foot pursuit in July 2023; Falco served with the department for 8 years


K-9 Falco sits with Gary handler Cpl. Angel Lozano between training sessions on June 10, 2019, for the first day of a weeklong K-9 training operation at the Multi Agency Academic Cooperative in Valparaiso. Falco was fatally shot while pursuing a suspect in July 2023. (Kyle Telechan/Post Tribune)

Kyle Telechan / Post-Tribune/TNS

By Meredith Colias-Pete
Post-Tribune (Merrillville, Ind.)

GARY, Ind. — A Gary man got a split verdict late Wednesday — convicted for killing a police dog and acquitted of shooting at a cop.

Jurors acquitted Spencer Patterson of attempted murder after he was charged with shooting at Gary police Sgt. Angel Lozano.

They convicted Patterson of battery by means of a deadly weapon, two counts of resisting law enforcement, and one count of striking a law enforcement animal.

His sentencing is set for July 12.

Deputy Prosecutors Michelle Jatkiewicz and Adam Martin said during trial that Patterson was evading arrest, killed Lozano’s K-9 dog Falco, then opened fire on the officer.

Patterson shot the dog, his lawyer John Cantrell said Thursday.

He said there was no evidence — including bullet casings or holes — that showed Patterson opened fire at the officer after the cops searched the overgrown backyard with metal detectors.

They were “trying to justify (the officer) shooting at my client six times,” he said.

The incident started just before 2 p.m. July 13, 2023.

Lozano and his K-9 partner, Falco, proceeded to the area of the 1000 block of East 35th Place to search for Patterson. At first, he ordered Patterson, who was “fidgety,” to put his hands on the car. He gave the officer a fake name. As Lozano tried to handcuff him, Patterson took off.

They engaged in a foot pursuit in an area with knee-high overgrown grass, according to the probable cause affidavit. A witness told police that Patterson jumped over a fence and Falco followed him, hopping over the fence as well. Lozano couldn’t climb the fence, so he ran along its east side when he heard a few shots go off, records state.

Falco was shot during the short chase and he died from his wounds in the back of the residence. The animal was lying on the ground and had “shallow breathing,” Lozano told jurors. Patterson aimed at him, then opened fire, before Lozano shot back. Altogether, he fired six times at Patterson, Lozano said. Patterson told him he killed the dog, because it was biting him.

The dog served eight years with the Gary Police Department, with more than 1,000 deployments, apprehending suspects and seizing numerous drugs, according to Gary Police Chief Anthony Titus.

In the backyard, Lozano noticed Falco was down but couldn’t initially locate Patterson, court records state. He told investigators that as he approached the west side of the residence, Patterson fired at him and he fired back at Patterson. At that point, Patterson gave up and was taken into custody, the affidavit states.

“I’m done, I’m done, I give up,” a witness testified Patterson said.

Post-Tribune archives contributed.

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