MISHAWAKA — In every good cop story, the partners are opposites. One's old, one's young. One's witty, the other dry. In the partnership of Cpl. James Szuba and his K-9 Ricky, both killed in a weekend traffic accident involving an alleged drunken driver, that theory holds true. Szuba, numerous officers have said, was quiet, respectful, dedicated. "He was always, 'Yes, ma'am,' 'No ma'am'" and very respectful and quiet, said Deb McGinnis, who works in the Mishawaka Police Department's records office. But Ricky, Szuba's German shepherd partner? Ricky, McGinnis said, was the boisterous one, a dog unafraid to let his presence be known. "If you walked out back, he would just start getting all excited," McGinnis said. "Pretty soon the whole car would be shaking back and forth." On Friday, both Szuba and Ricky are expected to be honored for their courage and dedication during their funeral at Bethel College. But after the funeral, as prosecutors and investigators prepare the case against 31-year-old Shawn Devine, the man accused of causing the accident while intoxicated and fleeing police, the partnership between Ricky and Szuba will take a noticeable split. Under Indiana law, Devine faces no charges for the death of Ricky, despite the animal's status as a member of the Mishawaka Police Department. Indiana does have a law that makes "knowingly or intentionally" injuring or killing a law enforcement animal a felony. But according to a statement by the St. Joseph County prosecutor's office, they would have to show Devine's "actions had a high probability of killing a law enforcement animal." According to the prosecutor's office statement, there's little evidence to suggest that Devine knew a police dog was in the car before the accident. Staff writer Dave Stephens: firstname.lastname@example.org (574) 235-6209
Mishawaka Police Officer James Szuba and his K-9 partner, Ricky, were killed in a traffic accident late Saturday night.