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Police horse named after slain Sgt. Ryan Russell
By Terry Davidson , Toronto Sun
First posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 04:09 PM EDT | Updated: Tuesday, June 21, 2016 06:10 PM EDT
TORONTO - Toronto Police have named the force’s newest horse after an officer who was killed five years ago by a mentally deranged man behind the wheel of a stolen snow plow.

Russell, a four-year-old purebred Clydesdale, is the namesake of Sgt. Ryan Russell, who was run over by Richard Kachkar during the early-morning hours of Jan. 12, 2011.

While initially charged with first-degree murder, Kachkar was found not criminally responsible due to mental illness.

Russell’s widow Christine, son Nolan, parents and other family members were in attendance as Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders formally introduced the new steed.

“It’s hard to believe that ... it’s been five years and he is still being remembered and honoured by the Toronto Police,” Christine said. “It’s such an incredible honour for my family to see such a beautiful animal ... that is going to be put into service ... to work the streets, just as my husband did.”

Russell’s father, Glenn, said naming a police horse after his son is fitting, given his son’s love of animals.

“I know Ryan would be over the moon with this,” he said. “He loved (the family’s) dogs and cats. I’ve even seen him try and save a raccoon. He was just an animal lover — a very soft heart for animals.”

Christine spoke of “hard days” since her husband’s death, and of her ongoing frustration over the outcome of Kachkar’s trial.

“There have been a lot of hard days, a lot of negative days, and hard blows for my family to accept, and when something like this happens, it is such a special honour for my family,” she said.

Kachkar, homeless and in the throes of a psychotic episode, had climbed behind the wheel of an idling pickup equipped with a plow. He ran wild on the streets of downtown Toronto before striking Russell, who was trying to bring the truck to a stop.

Kachkar is at a mental health facility in Whitby.

TDavidson@postmedia.com

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