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Driver Who Refuses to Comply is Bitten by Police Dog in Columbia County

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In a story first reported in The Jail Report, Columbia County deputies recently used a police dog to help subdue a violent drug suspect after a routine traffic stop.

The encounter with driver Michael Conklin left the suspect and two deputies with injuries.

Conklin, 56, was asked to exit his vehicle July 24 after K-9 Copper alerted to drugs.  A sheriff’s report describes a furious fight.

Conklin was asked to exit his car and began yelling and pulling away from Deputy C.A. Rose, the report says. The other officer, Deputy J.W. Leonard, tried to take him to the ground, leading to a brutal fight in the muddy ditch along the onramp to I-20 West, just off South Belair Road in Martinez.

Conklin ended up on top of Leonard and repeatedly punched the deputy in the abdomen, shoulder and neck area, the report says.

“Stop resisting or I will deploy my canine,” the deputy reportedly said as the suspect reached toward his waistband.

A third deputy arrived and all three were still losing the fight, so Leonard retrieved the dog. K-9 Copper bit the suspect on the right calf. But the suspect punched and kicked the animal, the report says, so the dog changed to the left calf.

The suspect continued fighting.

“After being kicked, I struck Mr. Conklin in the face with a closed fist,” Leonard wrote in the report. “I also informed Mr. Conklin to comply with our commands and I would remove the dog, but he refused.”

As more deputies arrived to assist, the driver was finally handcuffed and the K-9 ordered to stop.

The suspect was transported to Doctors Hospital to be treated for the dog bites. Methamphetamine was found in his coin pocket, and it was determined that he was reaching for it during the fight, the report says.

Fredericks was bitten on his left arm by Conklin, the report says. Leonard was kicked in the left side of his chest, leaving the officer with bruising to the ribs on his left side. Both required treatment at University Hospital.

Conklin eventually went to jail for meth possession and three counts of felony obstruction of an officer. A sheriff’s report lists him as the operations manager for a garbage collection service in Columbia County.

Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh is an award-winning crime reporter in the Augusta-Aiken area with experience writing for The Augusta Chronicle, The Augusta Press and serving as publisher of The Jail Report. Rickabaugh is a 1994 graduate of the University of South Carolina and has appeared on several crime documentaries on the Investigation Discovery channel.
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