Man sentenced to prison for killing police dog

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Graffit was shot and killed while trying to apprehend a suspect in February 2023.

GOLDEN, Colo. — A man who shot and killed a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office K-9 was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison.

Eduardo Armando Romero, 30, pleaded guilty to the following charges in February:

  • Aggravated cruelty to animals: 18 months in the Department of Corrections
  • Identity theft: 12 years in DOC
  • Menacing: 3 years in DOC
  • Driving under the influence: 1 year in DOC
  • Second-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft: 364 days in DOC

Four other counts were dismissed as part of the plea deal. He received a total sentence of 12 years in prison, which will be served after the sentence he is already serving for similar crimes he committed in Denver, according to a release from the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

VIDEO ABOVE: Memorial service held for police dog killed in the line of duty.

Jefferson County deputies spoke at Friday’s sentencing hearing and submitted letters describing the “profound” impact that the death of the dog, named Graffit, had on them. They detailed what he meant to each of them and the sheriff’s office family. 

Senior Deputy District Attorney Amanda Becker said that police dogs are highly skilled partners capable of tasks beyond human abilities, the release said. 

“They have the senses that allow us to see what we cannot see — drugs, humans, weapons — law enforcement animals have helped keep our communities safe, and they are an asset,” she said.

Becker asked for the maximum possible sentence, noting Romero’s 10 previous convictions, his many unsuccessful attempts at rehabilitation, being on bond for multiple cases at the time of the incident and his aggravated behavior that put sheriff’s deputies in severe danger, the release said. 

The release said Romero expressed remorse for his actions during the sentencing hearing.

Graffit was shot and killed on Feb. 13, 2023 while police officers and sheriff’s deputies were trying to arrest Romero, who ran from a stolen Jeep on the Colorado School of Mines campus.

Graffit was brought in to help with the search for Romero. The K-9 was released and given the command to apprehend Romero, who fired his gun and killed him.

Romero later surrendered to officers after Jeffco SWAT was called in to help.

RELATED: Jefferson County Sheriff’s police dog killed in shooting at Colorado School of Mines

“He made the ultimate sacrifice that day. I will never forget that,” Graffit’s handler, Deputy Zachary Oliver, said at a memorial service two weeks after the K-9 was killed. “Graffit was so much more to me than a dog. He was my partner, my best friend and, most of all, family.”

Following Graffit’s death, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office pushed for legislation to strengthen the punishment for killing law enforcement K-9s in Colorado to a maximum sentence of six years in prison. The maximum is currently 18 months. It was sent to Gov. Jared Polis’ (D) desk this week. 

RELATED: Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office pushing for tougher punishment for killing K9s

A final hearing on restitution is scheduled for July 11. 

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Man sentenced to prison for killing police dog

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