Paint shop customizes casket for K-9 killed in line of duty

A paint shop used to customizing motorcycles and classic cars had a unique request: paint a casket for Hondo, a police K-9 killed in service.

"Hondo is a special one and deserves nothing less," John Ward, owner of Rawtin Garage, told KUTV. "He really is a hero. This is our opportunity or our way that we can give back a little bit."

The shop turned around a custom-designed casket with police themes and an image of Hondo in about 24 hours -- in time for a memorial service Saturday.

"On that casket, there's certain meanings that are unique to the dog, the community, the police force," Ward told KUTV.

Hondo, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois, was killed while working with his handler Feb. 13.

Hondo and Sgt. Ben Ricks were looking for Brian Francis Filion, who was wanted in connection to a homicide, the Deseret News reported.

Ricks saw Filion leave an apartment, tried to arrest him and deployed Hondo. That’s when Filion pulled out a gun and shot Hondo in the chest. Filion was then shot and killed. Hondo was not wearing body armor.

Filion’s criminal history included convictions for felony drug possession, theft and aggravated assault.

“Hondo was a true warrior and his actions last night assured that his loving friend and partner, Ben, would be able to return home to his wife and children,” Herriman Police Chief Troy Carr said during a news conference Friday. “We mourn the loss of a member of our family. But we honor his sacrifice.”

Hondo was born in Europe and started with the department in 2015. He was one of the most decorated K-9 officers in the state, the Deseret News reported.

Hondo and Ricks were responsible for more than 100 arrests in Salt Lake County. Because of his age, Hondo was going to start looking toward retirement.

The community honored Hondo with makeshift memorials, tying blue ribbons on trees. A memorial service was held Saturday.

“What an honor it was to paint a hero’s casket,” the paint shop posted on social media.

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