After a bronze statue of K9 Kitt was unveiled, Braintree Police Officer Bill Cushing, Kitt’s handler, choked back tears as he spoke about working with the courageous police dog for more than a decade before it was killed in the line of duty in June 2021.
“I miss and think about Kitt every day,” Cushing said in a video stream of the ceremony Thursday on Boston 25′s website. “I knew he gave his all each time we went out, and in truth, he inspired me to do the same.”
The Braintree Police Department unveiled the K9 Kitt Memorial and re-dedication of the Braintree Police Officer Memorial at an outdoor ceremony at department headquarters on Union Street.
Kitt was shot and killed in the line of duty on June 4, 2021, when the K9, Cushing, Officer Matthew Donoghue, and Officer Richard Seibert responded to reports of a domestic disturbance which led to chasing a suspect into a wooded area, police said.
Gunfire erupted in the woods. The suspect, Andrew Homen, 34, opened fire as the three officers and Kitt approached, prosecutors said.
“K9 Kitt approached an area where Homen was seen behind a rock area and advised to show his hands and come out,” prosecutors wrote in a report on the incident. “Suddenly and without warning, Homen began firing his weapon as K9 Kitt advanced on his position.”
The dog “was mortally wounded by the first rounds of gunfire,” prosecutors said. Homen “fired his weapon first and was also struck numerous times by bullets from the Braintree police who returned fire,” prosecutors wrote. “Braintree Police returned fire after being fired upon, without warning, in response to their verbal commands.”
Homen was later pronounced dead at an area hospital. Officers Cushing and Donaghue were treated for “extensive” gunshot injuries.
Multiple speakers said Kitt’s sacrifice likely saved all three of the officers’ lives and prevented the suspect from harming anyone else. All of the officers were present at the ceremony.
Born in Slovakia in 2009, Kitt joined the Braintree Police Department when he was 11 months old, where he would work with Cushing until he died 12 years later, officials said.
The “highly skilled tracking dog” was a “huge asset” to the Braintree Police Department and he was awarded the Medal of Valor in 2016, for his role in stopping a different armed attack, Beth Karas, one of the speakers, said.
“Just five years later, in another armed attack, he gave the ultimate sacrifice,” Karas said.
Also present at the ceremony were the five children who first proposed the idea of a memorial for Kitt, together, they lifted the sheet to reveal the statue halfway through the ceremony.
“You’re incredible acts of kindness and efforts to make this idea memorial for Kitt a reality will forever be remembered,” Cushing said. “I and the community can not thank you enough for what you did.”
Cushing was given a mini version of the statue.
Mark O’Reilly, K9 trainer from the Massachusetts Department of Correction, said he hopes the statue is a symbol of everything the K9 teams endure.
“I believe it was their preparation and their partnership that got them through all those high-risk situations and brought them to that day in June,” O’Reilly said. “Billy and Kitt were the best-prepared team for that day.”