Charleston Police Chief honors fallen K-9 Officer Axel

The K-9 officer lost his life Saturday in an officer-involved shooting.
The K-9 officer lost his life Saturday in an officer-involved shooting.(WSAZ)
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 7:20 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - At a news conference Monday morning, Charleston Police Chief Tyke Hunt shared more information about the officer-involved shooting where two lives were lost.

Hunt honored fallen K-9 officer Axel for his service.

“His bravery, his loyalty saved the lives of two police officers because he went immediately to the threat where a bad guy had a gun, was willing to use it,” Hunt said.

Chief Hunt described the situation that took place along East Point Drive where Axel jumped into action to help arrest a wanted man who fled from police into the woods.

“Our officers were familiar with this person. They knew his propensity to flee,” Hunt said.

Hunt said a call went into Metro 911 on Saturday night to search for Samuel Ranson at a home in the 100 block of East Point Drive.

Hunt said Ranson has a long rap sheet. He was wanted on malicious wounding charges, according to a criminal complaint for an incident on Aug. 22 when police say Ranson took out a knife and gun and stabbed someone.

A struggle between the suspect, K-9 Officer Axel, his handler Ptl. Clendenin, and other officers took place in the woods behind the home.

“Very fortunate for Ptl. Clendenin. He caught a glimpse out of the corner of his eye because his K-9 was alerting him in that direction,” Hunt said. “During an active struggle while affecting the arrest, the suspect pulled a handgun from his person. The suspect is also a convicted felon who should have never had a gun.”

Chief Hunt said the suspect shot and killed Axel during the struggle.

“The officers on scene were able to immediately eliminate the threat to them from that gunfire, and the suspect was pronounced dead later on at the hospital,” Hunt said.

Charleston Police are investigating the officer-involved shooting.

“We are going to submit the full report to the Kanawha County Prosecutor’s Office for evaluation because we do believe in transparency, and we are always going to do what is right,” Hunt said.

The loss of life is something Chief Hunt said he never wants to see happen for the man who died and for Axel, who was on the force for about a year.

“They are officers, they are K-9 partners, and Axel was the epitome of a K-9 partner,” Hunt said.

Chief Hunt said K-9s are so much more than just work partners. Axel was part of his handler, Ptl. Clendenin’s family. It is a loss Hunt said they feel tremendously.

Mayor Amy Goodwin has ordered flags at half staff until the funeral for K-9 Officer Axel is held.

“Today is a day of mourning. You see the flags flying at half staff until we lay K-9 Axel to rest,” Goodwin said.

City leaders say more information about that plan will be released soon.