Officer Murray and His Partner Thor
Any night of the week on almost every television station, you can turn on the news, or watch a prime time police drama, and see a police chase, a police shooting, or high-intensity detective drama.
Behind all of these stories – both the factual and the fictional stories – are real people, and real examples of those who demonstrate bravery and commitment each and every day.
One such story happened right here in Ukiah, and if not for the teamwork of many dedicated officers and a K-9 partner, the story could have been much worse.
Last March, Officer Kevin Murray and his K-9 partner, Thor, were patrolling near the Sun House Museum late at night. Officer Murray saw a man walking through the park after hours, just blocks from a recent attempted burglary. Officer Murray stopped the suspect and asked him to identify himself, and the suspect gave a false name.
Officer Murray noticed that the suspect seemed fidgety, and appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance. It was later confirmed that the suspect was under the influence of methamphetamine.
When Officer Murray began to search the suspect, later identified as Robert Paul, Paul began to fight him, dislocating the officer’s shoulder. Officer Murray knew he was in trouble when he tried to reach for his belt where his taser and radio were located, but his arm didn’t respond. He felt the suspect reach for the belt—which is also where his gun was, so Officer Murray redoubled his efforts to defend himself with one functioning arm.
Thor, meanwhile, was in the patrol vehicle unable to assist. Officer Murray used his knee to defend himself, and the suspect began to run away. Officer Murray then used his left hand to reach the remote release on his belt to open the patrol vehicle’s door. Thor bounded out of the car and sped to Officer Murray, who instructed the K-9 to apprehend Paul. At that moment, Officer Murray stumbled and fell to the ground. He was injured and exhausted. He tried to get up, but couldn’t.
Thor realized Officer Murray was down and turned to come back, circling Officer Murray where he lay. Thor then stopped next to Officer Murray’s injured right side and lay over the top of his chest while the officer fixed his radio and called for help.
Officer Murray called for officer backup and a paramedic. Both arrived quickly. Assistance from fellow UPD officers, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department, and California Highway Patrol, allowed the suspect to be captured quickly. But Thor wouldn’t leave Officer Murray, not even when help arrived. It was as though he was saying, “My officer is down, and I’m not leaving him.” Officer Chris Long, who also has a K-9 partner, had to use the bite arm to lure Thor away so the paramedics could assist Officer Murray.
Officer Murray is no stranger to crisis. He is a military veteran with two tours in Iraq. His commitment to serve runs deep, whether it be in the armed forces or as part of the police force. He balances a commitment to his work with a tremendous commitment to and love for his family, as the father of two wonderful kids. Officer Murray ended up having two surgeries on his damaged shoulder. At this point, many officers would consider an early retirement. Ukiah is incredibly lucky that Officer Murray has no interest in retiring. It’s just in the last couple months that he’s come back on full active duty. He’s happy to be back, and I’m really grateful he chose to return.
At UPD, we have four K-9 officers, two are trained drug dogs and two are trained protection dogs. When Officer Murray was recovering, we sent Thor for additional training, so now he’s actually both. It’s hard to overstate how valuable our K-9s are. UPD, the Willits Police Department, and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department all depend on them. Not only can they get places and do things that their human counterparts can’t, they are a wonderful deterrent. Sometimes just the presence of a K-9 can cause a suspect to surrender.
One of the drug dogs, Bugsy, works with our School Resource Officer, Vince Morse, in partnership with the Ukiah Unified School District, and as a result drug possession at the high school has dropped dramatically.
And, because I always want to know how the story ends, I thought I’d let you know that Robert Paul was arrested for threatening a peace officer, causing great bodily injury to a peace officer, resisting arrest, possessing a controlled substance, and possessing stolen property. He was on probation from Humboldt County when he was arrested, and now that he has been convicted of causing great bodily injury to an officer, he will serve at least 85 percent of his six-year prison term.
A big thank you, as always, to the law enforcement support we received that night and always. Everyone is stretched thin, but no one hesitates when a call for help goes out. It is truly remarkable how hard these men and women work. I feel really lucky to be surrounded by some of the most dedicated, hard-working men and women you could find anywhere.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have any suggestions or comments about how we can improve, please feel free to call me, complete our online survey, or leave a crime tip on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.