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K-9 Nicky, killed in the line of duty, laid to rest in Las Vegas — VIDEO

As officers stood on two legs to honor K-9 Nicky during a private service Wednesday afternoon, some onlookers stood on four.

The police dog was killed by friendly fire March 31 during a running gunbattle with a homicide suspect, and his 2 p.m. funeral was closed to the public. But that didn’t stop a few people from trekking to the northwest valley and peeking into Craig Road Pet Cemetery — many accompanied by their own pets.

As they clutched leashes, some stood in the shade with their dogs and puppies. Others sweltered together in the sun. And at least once, each shushed an occasional bark as speakers in the cemetery reflected on Nicky’s six years with the Metropolitan Police Department.

“Nicky’s greatest joy in life was when Dad put him in the car, turned on those lights and sirens and took him to the next search, looking for the next bad guy,” K-9 officer Duwayne Layton said to the large, mostly uniformed crowd inside.

The day Nicky died, two people died too, and though the service was meant to honor the dog, Sheriff Joe Lombardo asked for a moment of silence for both Branden Hughes, 31, and his mother, Felecia Wimberly-Hughes, 46, who were shot and killed before police exchanged fire with James Craig Simpson, 31, in front of 9848 Fast Elk St. about noon last Thursday.

“I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the Hughes family,” Lombardo said. “Our department has not lost sight of the tragic loss of these two Las Vegas residents.”

As the service continued, K-9 officer Layton mentioned the “traumatic” machete attack Nicky endured in February before returning to work in early March.

“After that injury, a lot of people thought that Nicky needed to retire; that he should’ve been given the opportunity to be a dog and lay around the pool,” Layton said. “But if you knew Nicky the way that we knew Nicky, you know that would’ve never happened. He loved his job, and he was good at it.”

Nicky was born in the Netherlands, and throughout the 9-year-old police dog’s time with Metro he apprehended 99 people.

“Even bandaged up with a face full of staples, it was hard to hold Nicky back,” Layton said. “He wanted to go to work.”

Sgt. Eric Kerns — the police dog’s handler — worked with Nicky for the last three years. He spoke briefly, pausing to compose himself as he started to cry.

“I wanted a dog that was strong and courageous and fearless,” Kerns said. “I wanted a dog that loved to work and wanted to work and do nothing else. That’s what I found in Nicky.”

Kerns said Nicky constantly protected him, adding his family was “thankful for the courage of that dog,” which allowed him to do his job “day after day without being seriously injured.”

During the service, Metro’s SWAT unit gave Kerns a personalized memorial sign to honor Nicky. An officer also announced the dog had been nominated for a K-9 Purple Heart and Medal of Honor after his February attack, then explained Nicky would “unfortunately” be awarded posthumously should he win.

“Eric, I’m very sorry for the loss of your loyal partner,” Lombardo said to Kerns while onstage.

The dog was buried after a brief viewing. He received a 21-gun salute and a K-9 salute, which is a 10-second period of loud, commanded barking by police dogs.

As the dogs yelped next to their handlers, Kerns stood alone.


Contact Rachel Crosby at rcrosby@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Find her on Twitter: @rachelacrosby

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