Centralia Police K9 Samson Retiring After Handler Survived Stabbing


After two years of service, Centralia Police Department K9 Samson is being retired at 3 and a half years old to be with his handler, Officer Stephen Summers, who was stabbed while on duty in February 2022. 

The stabbing occurred after Summers and Samson were called to Chehalis to assist the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department with the arrest of a 32-year-old man accused of second-degree rape of a child. The suspect fled after an initial arrest attempt was made in Chehalis, and Summers and Samson helped track him down. 

Upon confronting the suspect a second time, the suspect stabbed Summers in the head and back area, prompting Summers and fellow Centralia officer Timothy Odell to shoot the suspect, who subsequently died at the scene.  The suspect’s crime and death are still under investigation, according to Denham.

Summers was joined by Centralia Police Chief Stacy Denham at Tuesday night’s regular city council meeting to officially ask the city to sell Samson to Summers.

“Through the duty of doing the very dangerous job of K9 handler, doing their work, K9 Samson and Officer Summers were doing that and experienced a very traumatic and dangerous situation through no fault of theirs,” Denham said. 

He added the recovery process for Summers is still ongoing, which is why Denham decided ultimately to retire the dog and sell him to Summers instead of pairing the dog with a new handler. 

According to Denham, while the dog could be paired with a new handler, it is uncertain if the dog would still be able to perform its duties and obey commands up to the department’s standards. 

“We’d be playing a guessing game if the K9 would be able to reacclimate with another handler and that’s a big guess,” Denham said. 

Summers also spoke to the council to ask for approval of Samson’s sale. 

“Centralia’s K9 program is based off donations. Myself and Officer (Ruben) Ramirez, we spent our own time raising the funds for these dogs. Samson is my best friend, so I’m just asking you guys to consider selling him to me,” Summers said. 

Ultimately, the council unanimously approved the resolution. 

Denham did not disclose how much Summers would pay for Samson, but whatever he pays will go to the Centralia Police K9 Association and will be put toward purchasing a new dog for the department. 

Denham said it cost $10,000 for the department to purchase Samson two years ago, but with inflation, it could cost $12,000 to replace him. 

“The Centralia Police Department accepts donations for the Centralia Police K9 Association any day of the week for the most part. We take it right at the front counter,” Denham said. 

In addition to donating toward the department’s new K9, Centralia residents can also donate to help Summers pay for Samson if they wish. 

In a March 2020 Chronicle article included in the series “20 under 40” that recognized top young professionals, Summers explained that Ramirez inspired him to join the K9 unit and described how working with Samson changed his life. 

“The most defining moment in my career so far was PSD (Police Service Dog) Samson’s first apprehension. After the track, I came to appreciate all the hard work and time that PSD Samson and I have put in to become successful. I came to realize that becoming a K9 Handler was the right choice for me and my career,” said Summers in the 2020 article. 

One active K9 unit remains in Centralia, Ramirez and his partner, K9 Pax. 

For more information on the Centralia Police K9 Association visit its page on Facebook. 

The Centralia Police Department is located at 118 W. Maple St. in downtown Centralia.