CRIME

Justice for Dingo: Slain K-9’s handler Chad Reyes shares his memories of the police dog killed in the line of duty

Apr 23, 2019, 4:46 PM
K-9 Dingo with Chad Reyes...
Dingo, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois with the Unified Police Department, was shot and killed early Thursday while helping U.S. Marshals take a wanted fugitive into custody. (Photo: Unified Police Department)
(Photo: Unified Police Department)

On the night of July 26, 2017, Deputy Chief Chad Reyes gave his police K9, Dingo, his last command.

The two were part of a Unified Police team in pursuit of Torey Massey, a fugitive on the run wanted for theft, robbery, and aggravated assault. Massey had been spotted in the Millcreek area at about 1:00 a.m. Police acted fast, setting up spikes on the road to blow out his tires, but Massey wouldn’t stop for anything. He drove straight through the spikes, police say, and, when his car wouldn’t go any further, climbed out and made a break for it on foot.

Dingo had the best shot at catching him. He was a seven-year-old Belgian Malinois in the prime of his life, capable of running up to 35 mph. Reyes released him, sending him after the man who, moments later, would kill him.

“Dingo acknowledged my command by placing his paw on my shoulder,” Reyes would later tell a jury, “basically to say: ‘I’ve got that guy.'”

Massey would be found guilty for killing a police K9 in the line of duty nearly two years later, on Friday, May 19, finally bringing to an end a horrific chapter in Reyes’ life. And with the nightmare over, today, on KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic, Reyes shared his memories of Dingo.

Lt. Chad Reyes and Dingo

Chad Reyes and Dingo

Dingo and his handler, UPD Sgt. Chad Reyes in 2014. (Photo: KSL TV)

“I spent more time with Dingo than I did with my own children,” Reyes admits.

The bond between a police K9 and his handler is unique. Dingo and Reyes weren’t just together at work; when Reyes went home or on vacation or anywhere at all – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, Reyes says – Dingo was by his side. They understood each other, Reyes believes, and he is convinced that on the morning before he died, Dingo knew that something was going to change.

The two had a routine each morning that never changed. Dingo would sit outside the bathroom, waiting for Reyes to shower, then lay at his feet while he got ready for work. But on that day, Dingo broke it. Instead of waiting for Reyes, he climbed under a chair, giving him a look that Reyes believes meant he was asking him to join him.

Reyes did it. Before leaving for work that day, he crawled under the chair with his dog and laid with him on the ground.

“Reflecting upon that,” Reyes says, “it was certainly a cherished moment for me.”

Torey Massey

Torey Chase Massey. (Photo: Unified Police Department)

Hours later, he and Dingo would be on the final pursuit. As horribly as everything would end, Dingo did his job that night. He caught up with Massey and knocked him down, sending man and dog alike tumbling down an embankment outside a shopping mall. But Massey, apparently unwilling to escape, shot the dog and tried to run once more.

Reyes rushed over and saw the dog that had been at his side every moment for years bleeding but still alive, crawling toward him. His best friend was dying, but there was still an armed fugitive on the loose. If he ran to him, he’d be putting his own life in jeopardy. He couldn’t do anything to help.

“Dingo was coming to me for comfort and help,” Reyes told the court, fighting back tears, “and I couldn’t direct my attention to him.”

The Trial of Torey Massey

Chad Reyes and Dingo

Dingo and his handler, UPD Sgt. Chad Reyes (Photo: KSL TV)

It wouldn’t take long before police captured Massey. Dingo, in his last act, had helped slow him down, and Massey had thrown his pistol and his knife away. No one else would be harmed that night, and thanks in part to one canine’s sacrifice, a dangerous criminal was taken off the streets.

Reyes, however, wouldn’t be able to rest easy until Massey’s sentence was in. He told KSL’s Debbie Dujanovic, “I went into the trial – and really the two years leading up to the trial – with tons of anxiety.”

The problem, he says, was that he just wasn’t sure what would happen.

“I’ve been a cop for twenty-one years,” he says. “I’ve seen juries get it wrong.”

Worse still, his close involvement in the case meant he had to get extremely close to the man who’d killed his dog.

“I’ve come to know Mr. Massey more than I’ve wanted to, and this is only personal on my part, but I don’t believe that Mr. Massey has the aptitude to accept responsibility for any of his actions,” Reyes says. “He actually displayed hatred for me.”

Dingo Police K-9

Dingo, the 7-year-old Belgian Malinois. (Photo: Unified Police Department)

When the verdict came in, however, it was clear that they weren’t going to be cutting Massey any breaks. On every single charge against him, again and again, the jury gave back the same verdict: guilty, guilty, and guilty again.

Two years of tension, Reyes says, were wiped away in a moment, and he was overwhelmed with a sense of extreme relief. Dingo would finally get justice.

“I’m overwhelmed with joy,” he says. “Really, they did get it right this time.”

Massey will receive his sentence on June 17. The maximum penalty possible will be five years in prison.

Dingo Police K-9

Dingo photographed among the leaves. (Photo: Unified Police Department)

More to the story

KSL Newsradio’s Debbie Dujanovic thinks this story is proof we need more jury trials and fewer plea deals that she says give criminals an easy break.

Hear her take on this story – and her full conversation with Lt. Chad Reyes – on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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Justice for Dingo: Slain K-9’s handler Chad Reyes shares his memories of the police dog killed in the line of duty