Role reversal: Dog bites K-9 as SC officers investigate shooting

It was just before midnight Monday, the end to a holiday weekend, when Greenville County Sheriff’s deputies were called to a house on 4th Avenue in a former mill village.

There had been a shooting.

Officers went into the house, K-9 Conley assisting. The 1 1/2 year old German Shepherd was in the final stages of his training, having come to the agency in January.

Lt. Ryan Flood, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said Conley and his handler completed the basic K-9 training course in May, trained to detect illegal drugs and to apprehend suspects.

As the officers went into the house, another dog rushed in from outside and attacked Conley.

A man in the house suffered a gunshot wound and was taken to the hospital. Flood said he did not know the man’s condition, but a suspect, 27-year-old Matthew Gage Satterfield, was charged with attempted murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, possession with Intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession of marijuana and possession of cocaine base.

Officers were able to get the dog away from Conley, and it was picked up by animal control. Conley was transported to the animal hospital with puncture wounds to his front leg.

Conley is one of 23 K-9 officers in the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, Flood said, and not the first to be attacked while on duty.

Greenville County’s K-9s have been on the other side of attacks as well, including a 2019 incident in which deputies were tracking a suspect and found him hiding in a dishwasher. The K-9 bit the suspect in the head, holding him for several seconds.

Ultimately, the county paid the suspect $230,000 in advance of him filing a lawsuit and dropped the charges. He pleaded guilty to prior charges in a negotiated settlement.

That incident was listed as one of 150 serious K-9 bites across the country reviewed during a year-long investigation by the Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that looks at criminal justice.

The Marshall Project worked in collaboration with, IndyStar and the Invisible Institute on the dog bite investigation.

In 2018, a Greenville County K-9 attacked a handcuffed suspect who was sitting on the ground.

Then there’s the mystery of K-9 Rudy. In June 2020, K-9 Rudy was in the backyard of his handler in a subdivision on Greenville’s County’s eastside.

The handler came home, and the German Shepherd was gone. Trained to apprehend and find illegal drugs, K-9 Rudy was an asset to the force and a pal to his handler, Flood said.

The Sheriff’s Office received many leads, but so far, none have led them to Rudy.

Conley, meanwhile, is expected back on duty next week.