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VADOC K-9 killed by inmates while protecting corrections officer

K-9 Rivan, who was assigned to the Sussex I State Prison, “lost his life while potentially saving the lives of two people, his assigned officer and an inmate,” VADOC said

By Sarah Roebuck

WAVERLY, Va. — A K-9 assigned to a corrections office at the Sussex I State Prison died after being stabbed by multiple inmates, the Virginia Department of Corrections said.

According to VADOC, on April 2, three inmates associated with the MS-13 gang attacked another inmate in one of the facility’s housing units. A fourth inmate seemed to be supervising the assault, VADOC said.

Corrections Officer Kharmishia Phillip Fields and her assigned K-9, Rivan, were on duty near the area of the incident when the attack occurred. Phillip Fields and Rivan intervened to stop the attack, protect the inmates and restore order.

During the effort to control the situation, Rivan was “violently and repeatedly stabbed and kicked by the inmates.” Despite attempts at lifesaving measures by VADOC staff, Rivan later died at the facility.

Phillip Fields, who has four years of experience as a K-9 handler with the department, did not sustain any serious injuries, thanks in part to her training and Rivan’s intervention, VADOC said.

The situation was stabilized through the efforts of Phillip Fields, other responding corrections officers and Rivan, VADOC said. The inmate who was attacked received medical treatment at a local hospital for his injuries before being returned to the facility.

“The loss of Rivan is truly tragic, but it is important to remember he did not die in vain.” Director Chad Dotson said. “He lost his life while potentially saving the lives of two people, his assigned officer and an inmate. The VADOC will never forget Rivan’s sacrifice.”

Rivan, a Belgian Malinois set to celebrate his 6th birthday on April 30, became a part of the Virginia Department of Corrections in 2019, achieving certification in July of that year. Coming from a lineage with a dedicated public safety background, his father served with a police department in Southwest Virginia, while his mother was employed by the United States Secret Service.

A memorial service for Rivan is scheduled for April 11.