Jason Gibbs, a friend of H. Keegan Graves', was teary-eyed as he spoke to reporters outside the Clark County Courthouse Monday.
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office has received inquiries from people wanting to donate to its K-9 program. Contributions can be mailed to Clark County Sheriff’s Office, P.O. Box 410, Vancouver, WA 98666. Make checks out to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and write “K-P” on the memo line.
Checks can also be delivered to the central (11608 N.E. 149th St.) and west (505 N.W. 179th St., Ridgefield) precincts of the sheriff’s office.
A La Center man was free on bail when he allegedly stabbed a police dog to death, according to court records.
Now, H. Keegan Graves, 31, has been denied bail and faces two charges of first-degree assault and one charge each of harming a police dog, attempting to elude police and possession of a stolen vehicle.
He made his first appearance in court on Monday.
Kane, a Dutch shepherd, died after the Saturday night attack.
In denying bail, Clark County Superior Court Judge John Wulle cited the serious nature of the alleged crimes.
As Graves was about to walk away from Wulle’s bench, the judge admonished him over what he perceived as an angry glare. “Don’t give me that look,” Wulle said. “It’s not going to do anything.”
Graves’ attorneys said their client meant no disrespect, explaining that he squints without his glasses.
It wasn’t the only moment of the five-minute hearing to draw a reaction from Wulle. The judge shouted, “Hat off!” as another man entered the courtroom. He turned out to be Jason Gibbs of Camas, who said he and Graves are “like brothers.”
Gibbs said he has been saddened by online commenters who have called Graves “garbage.”
He characterized his friend as someone who overcame drug abuse but recently started spending time with an unsavory crowd. He said he was disappointed none of Graves’s relatives showed up for his court appearance.
“Give the guy a chance,” Gibbs said. “I’m reading online how people think he is garbage. He just made a mistake.”
Graves was raising his 9-year-old daughter by himself, Gibbs said, adding that she is being sent to Missouri to live with her mother.
“He’s good people,” said a teary Gibbs, standing in the breezeway between the courthouse and the sheriff’s office headquarters. “We took care of each other. If he needed money, I gave him money. If I needed money, he gave me money.”
On Saturday, Graves was awaiting trial on charges of possession of a stolen vehicle and identity theft.
Inside the halls of the courthouse, Clark County Sheriff Garry Lucas said Kane’s death is a “big loss,” a sentiment meant to convey more than the logistical loss of one tracking dog.
Department-wide, just about everyone has crossed paths with Kane, Lucas said. “It’s a pretty traumatic experience for the entire organization.”
Deputy Rick Osborne of the sheriff’s office was Kane’s handler. The two have made hundreds of demonstrations at area schools and other expositions during their six years together, Lucas said.
The details of what happened Saturday emerged in court records. According to a probable cause affidavit, Graves attempted to crash into Osborne’s vehicle before smashing into a fence in the 8800 block of Northeast 107th Avenue and fleeing on foot.
That happened near the end of a pursuit that started at about 12:20 a.m. when Graves and Natasa Cresap, 22, of Yacolt were spotted southbound on Northeast 107th Avenue driving a vehicle with what appeared to be switched license plates.
Deputy Glenn Smyth pursued Graves for about three miles with his lights flashing as he drove through yards, on sidewalks and against traffic. The records allege Graves attempted to strike Smyth’s vehicle before driving at Osborne’s car.
Kane found Graves in a nearby mobile home park. The dog, trained to bite and hold onto suspects, suffered multiple stab wounds.
The dog was rushed to St. Francis Animal Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Kane had been scheduled to retire in 2012.
Graves and Cresap were taken into custody without further incident. Cresap was arrested on an outstanding Department of Corrections warrant.
Graves had been out on bail on charges stemming from a Jan. 8 arrest. His trial on the earlier charges is scheduled to begin May 25.
Graves faces up to 10.25 years in prison on each first-degree assault charge, said Camara Banfield, a senior deputy prosecuting attorney. The assault charges stem from the allegations he attempted to ram the police vehicles with the car.
Graves could receive up to a year if convicted of harming a police dog. A deadly weapon enhancement could add six months, Banfield said.
Graves will enter a plea when he’s formally charged Friday at 9 a.m.
Since news of Kane’s death first spread Saturday, several people have contacted the sheriff’s office wanting to donate to their K-9 program. One woman emailed The Columbian saying she planned to contribute $5,000.
The department is organizing a memorial service for Kane and will announce details once plans are finalized.