Surprising Twist: Details revealed in death of man accused of stabbing police K-9

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A case that grabbed the attention of Oklahomans across the state is now back in the spotlight.

On Aug. 25, Sgt. Ryan Stark and Stark's K-9 police dog, Kye, were involved in a high-speed chase.

Authorities say 22-year-old Mark Salazar led officers on a chase through Moore, Norman and ended along I-35 in Goldsby.

After crashing his car, officers say Salazar tried to run away but was caught by Kye.

At that point, police say Salazar repeatedly stabbed Kye before Sgt. Stark arrived.

“The canine officer made his way to the suspect’s location to pull the canine off the suspect and noticed the suspect armed with a knife and had been actively stabbing the canine,” said Capt. Dexter Nelson, with the Oklahoma City Police Department.

That's when Stark opened fire and killed Salazar.

The next day, the K-9 officer died as a result of the stabbing.

Now, the case is back in the spotlight with the release of the autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Oklahoma.

According to the report, Salazar was shot six times, four of those in the back.

Salazar's death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner, which means another human caused his death.

The McClain County District Attorney will determine if the manner of death was criminal in nature.

Click here to read the autopsy report from the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner.

The Salazar family attorney believes the shooting was not justified.

"He's not a punk. He's not a thug. He doesn't have some extensive criminal background. Yes, he has a job." said Noble McIntyre, the Salazar family's attorney.

According to McIntyre, there are a number of things the police department got wrong the night Salazar was killed.

He says Salazar was suspected of stealing a car.

However, McIntyre says the car belonged to Salazar.

After the incident, police said Salazar was stabbing the dog when he was shot.

"We know the officer was in close proximity to the suspect when the suspect was stabbing the dog, which places the officer in great danger of the suspect," said Capt. Nelson on Aug. 25.

The medical examiner's report told a different story.

According to the report, the medical examiner investigator wrote the suspect was running away, an initial determination allegedly formulated when the investigator was out at the scene.

"Mark had been shot in the back multiple times from a distance. Not while he was on the ground wrestling with a dog, but as he was attempting to flee," McIntyre said. "There was a larger concern about the dog than there was about the human life."

In a surprising twist, the medical examiner's office changed its mind on the idea that Salazar was running away.

In an email to the chief of police, the medical examiner said, "The gunshot wounds on the back of this deceased individual all have a clearly steep angle, downward trajectory and are highly unlikely to have been discharged while this man was running away from a person who was shooting."

The police chief is expecting a change to the autopsy report and feels it is justified.

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"You can't have a round that goes in the upper top shoulder at an angle, and go down the lower back if you're running away from the officer, or if you're running away from the shots being fired. So it contradicted what we knew," said Chief Bill Citty, with the Oklahoma City Police Department.

Also, the state toxicology report shows Salazar did not have drugs in his system.

Salazar's family ordered their own private autopsy, which also ruled his manner of death as a homicide.

Click here to read the independent autopsy.

"What we're waiting to see is if the police do the right thing. Come out and tell the public, 'What you were told originally was not true," said McIntyre.

Oklahoma City police continue to work on an internal investigation to determine if Sgt. Ryan Stark was justified in shooting and killing Mark Salazar.

Sgt. Stark is not on patrol but is still on the police department's payroll.

According to police, he is authorized to look for a new K-9 unit.

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More Details: Complete coverage of the shooting and funeral.

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