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K9 officer remembered at memorial service

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Gio (Courtesy: Greenville Police Dept.) Gio (Courtesy: Greenville Police Dept.)
Gio's ashes at memorial service (FOX Carolina) Gio's ashes at memorial service (FOX Carolina)
Chief Mike Gambrell speaks at memorial service (FOX Carolina) Chief Mike Gambrell speaks at memorial service (FOX Carolina)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

The Greenville Police Department said goodbye to one its four-legged officers Friday.

K9 officer Gio was killed in an off-duty accident June 14. Police said the German shepherd jumped out of an officer's personal vehicle and was hit by a passing car along Woodruff and Scuffletown roads. The dog died from his injuries.

On Friday morning, Greenville police officers, county deputies and visiting law enforcement officers and K9 teams from other state agencies gathered outside the Greenville County Law Enforcement Center to pay tribute to Gio and offer condolences to his trainer and partner, Officer Nathan Smith.

Interim Chief Mike Gambrell and others spoke about Gio's service and Smith's loss.

"(Gio) was (Smith's) partner and he lost his partner as a result of this accident," Gambrell said. "It was (Smith) who had to pick up Gio from the roadway and take him to the truck, and you know this was a heart-breaking situation, and it's just like a fallen officer here at the police department."

Fellow officer Mike Austin remarked shared a lesson from the department's canine training school. "Usually a good dog is just that because he has a decent handler," he said. "But with a good dog and a great handler you have an awesome team, and that's what we had out of Gio and Nathan."

After the speakers finished, the police department color guard gave the small wooden box containing Gio's ashes a final salute and department officials presented Smith with a framed photo of Gio and a mold of the fallen dog's paw print.

Gambrell said the department has plans to grow the canine program and will soon add two new K9 officers.

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