SSD K-9 Billy

End of Watch: September 6, 1989

Sacramento Sheriff’s Dept. Police Dog named “Billy” was killed September 6, 1989. Billy’s handler, Deputy Keith Schmalz, saw a white Monte Carlo coming out from behind closed businesses in Sacramento, California. Schmalz followed the vehicle and saw the occupants throw something out of the window. The officer tried to stop the vehicle and a pursuit ensued. The pursuit ended at the rear of an apartment complex where two of the three occupants of the vehicle ran from officers.

The cover officer chased the passenger and Officer Schmalz and K9 Billy went after the driver of the vehicle, chasing him into the apartment complex. As Officer Schmalz ran past the suspect vehicle he noted the third suspect slouched down in the back seat of the car. Officer Schmalz quickly determined that the suspect in the vehicle was a young juvenile and continued after his K-9 partner. About 75 yards away and deep into the apartment complex, he located his dog. Billy had been shot twice with a .22 caliber revolver and lay dying on the sidewalk. Officers rushed Billy to an emergency vet clinic where he was pronounced dead.

The suspect, later identified as Terry Dorsey was apprehended approximately one week later after an intensive search and investigation. At the time Dorsey was arrested the most damning evidence against him were several deep puncture wounds and lacerations on his right buttock. Dorsey made a statement that a police dog had bitten him and that he couldn’t get the dog to let go by punching and kicking him, so he shot him, testimony to Billy’s strength and courage.

Terry Dorsey was a parolee at large who, at the time of the incident, had five active warrants for his arrest. He had already suffered three previous violations during that year and knew he was going away for awhile. Dorsey had an extensive and violent arrest history including several armed robberies, kidnap and rape. During the initial vehicle stop Dorsey attempted to lure Deputy Schmalz up to his vehicle. Dorsey only fled when he realized Deputy Schmalz was not going to approach. Deputy Schmalz has no doubt that Dorsey intended to shoot him to avoid going to jail and that Billy took the bullets instead, thereby saving his life.

Terry Dorsey was convicted of multiple charges by a jury and sentenced to the maximum time allowable by law, eleven years and eight months. During the trial there were several times when jurors visibly wept during testimony about Billy’s life and accomplishments.

William von Neubungelow (Billy) was a German Shepherd imported from Germany when he was two years old. Billy’s strong points were his size and strength (93lbs), his ability to track and his drive, but he was also a gentle giant who loved playtime and children. Billy’s loss was felt very deeply by Deputy Schmalz and his family. Billy was memorialized in a public ceremony where he was awarded Resolutions by the California State Senate and Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, recognizing his contributions, his accomplishments and his ultimate sacrifice. Billy’s death also prompted a change in the law, making the death or injury of a police service canine a felony.

During his short career Billy had in excess of 100 felony apprehensions. Most of those apprehensions involved dangerous suspects committing violent crimes. There is no way to quantify or predict how many crimes he prevented or lives he saved. It can only be said that he served faithfully, loyally and courageously.