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Riverhead police dog killed, two officers injured as uncooperative driver flees from DWI checkpoint Sunday morning

Two police officers were injured and a Riverhead Police Department K9 died in an incident that started at a DWI checkpoint on Peconic Avenue early Sunday morning.

Police pursuit of a vehicle that refused to stop at the checkpoint resulted in the crash of a Riverhead Police K9 unit on West Main Street that claimed the life of K9 dog “Rocky” and injured the K9 officer driving the vehicle, Riverhead Town Police said in a press release.

The police K9 unit crashed on West Main Street west of Raynor Avenue as it pursued a car whose driver refused to stop in the checkpoint at about 2:30 a.m., police said. The driver of the K9 unit lost control of his vehicle, left the roadway and struck a utility pole on the south side of West Main Street. The police dog was ejected in the crash and died, police said. The officer was transported by Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance to Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment of injuries police described as not life-threatening.

Other police units continued the pursuit into the Manorville area when it was terminated as police determined it was too dangerous to continue.

The vehicle that fled from the DWI checkpoint was described by police as a dark-colored Audi operated by a unknown black male, police said. The driver ignored commands of an officer at the checkpoint to stop within the checkpoint, striking the officer at the checkpoint, according to the report. The officer was transported by RVAC to Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

No further description of the Audi or its driver was given by police.

West Main Street (Route 25) is currently closed to traffic between Mill Road and Raynor Avenue and is expected to remain closed until the investigation is completed and the repairs are made by PSEG crews, police said.

“Rocky” was one of two Riverhead Police K9 patrol dogs. He joined the department in May 2011. He was named for former Riverhead chief of police Roscoe “Rocky” Palmer. Palmer, a 37-year veteran of RPD, was chief of the department for 11 years.

K9 “Rocky” in November 2011 with handler P.O. John Morris, with members of the family of former chief Roscoe “Rocky” Palmer outside Riverhead Town Hall. File photo: Peter Blasl
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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website. Email Denise.