Suspect’s family speaks out following fatal shooting by police

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OKLAHOMA CITY - There is new information on a story that has a lot of folks fired up.

It involves an Oklahoma City Police Officer, his police dog, and a 22-year-old suspect who was apparently on the run from police.

Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn will decide soon about whether the shooting death of suspect Mark Salazar, 22, was justified.

Salazar got tangled up with Oklahoma City Police Sergeant Ryan Stark and Stark's K-9 during an arrest August 24th.

Salazar and the dog ended up dead.

It started with a 911 call to police at 8:44 p.m. on a Sunday night.

The caller suspected Salazar was stealing a car. In the end, police determined the car belong to him.

By all accounts, Salazar ran from police and then bailed from his car.

Sgt. Ryan Stark unleashed his German Shepherd.

Police admit there were only two eyewitnesses to what happened next, in the critical moments before Salazar was shot to death.

"Somehow this young man didn't make it to the back of a police car. He was shot, and he was killed." said Mark Salazar's uncle, Andy Salazar.

The Salazar family wants answers about what happened that night.

Medical records are beginning to shed some light.

We know Sgt. Stark shot Salazar six times, four in the back.

An independent autopsy, paid for by the Salazar family, indicated the rounds were fired from a distance.

Read the Independent Autopsy Report

"He didn't even see it coming, and that is what's in my mind everyday. He didn't see it coming." said Mark Salazar's father, Bernabee Salazar Jr.

The Salazar family has traveled from their home in Ft. Worth several times to be Mark Salazar's voice in a community where they believe he has been vilified and marginalized.

"Before Mark was murdered the dog wasn't even dead. At that point, the officer decided it was time for Mark to die." said Mark Salazar's grandfather, Joe Peterson. "I think once people understand that Mark didn't want to hurt that animal either, and paid the ultimate price, I think they'll look at this a little bit differently."

Medical evidence reported in the state autopsy report cannot conclude whether Mark Salazar was running away from or charging toward the officer.

Read the Oklahoma State Medial Examiner Autopsy Report

The department believes Sgt. Stark was in danger because of the knife Salazar used to stab the dog.

"The issue here is threat to the officer. We expect and feel like at this point that the officer felt that threat with the person with the knife. The dog had already been released and ran off." said Police Chief Bill Citty on September 24th.

We have obtained the medical records of the police dog.

Veterinarians found two stab wounds in the dog's shoulder. A vet in Newcastle first treated the dog, before it was transferred to an Oklahoma City animal hospital.

Twelve hours after the incident the dog was standing, but not walking; sedated but responsive.

"We are dog lovers." said Mark Salazar's aunt, Rachel Salazar. "But you cannot compare the value of the life of that dog to the life of a human."

"We all have dogs, and we love dogs greatly." said Andy Salazar. "But I noticed that dog had an open casket, and our loved one didn't. That was hard. It was very hard that we could not lean over and kiss him."

Almost 24 hours after the officer shot and killed Mark Salazar the dog died of a heart attack.

The department held a funeral with military honors. Police did not request a necropsy after the death. The K-9 was cremated after the service.

See KFOR coverage of Kye's funeral.

Donation suggestions in honor of Kye

Meanwhile, in Ft. Worth, Texas a crowd of almost 500 said goodbye to Mark Salazar.

"If you do something wrong you ought to be punished. However, being killed, shot down like that, you're not even given a chance." said Mark Salazar's cousin, Jacob Salazar.

The Salazar family is anxious for the police investigation to wrap up. They are preparing for news from the district attorney about how the law will label Salazar's death.

District Attorney Greg Mashburn expects to make a decision in the next week about whether Sgt. Stark was justified in the shooting death of Mark Salazar.

Read more on the case here

Read more on groups raising money to protect Police K-9's