Beloved MVPD K-9, injured during violent suspect encounter, cleared to return to work

MORENO VALLEY — After sustaining multiple traumatic injuries while helping deputies take a violently resisting man into custody last Sunday, Moreno Valley’s beloved K-9 “Herbie” has been cleared to return to work. During that arrest, a man was caught on video repeatedly punching Herbie in the face, shaking him violently by his snout, and trying to strangle him with his own lead.

Herbie’s injuries included a lacerated left ear, swelling to his right eye, ruptured right blood vessel, and swelling to his throat, according to Moreno Valley PD officials who later said the violent, early morning confrontation also left one of the arresting deputies injured.


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K-9 Herbie and the deputy were injured on a call that began simply enough around 1:30 a.m., as the report of a suspicious and occupied vehicle parked inside a residential neighborhood, Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant Chris Willison later explained.

As deputies walked toward the black Nissan they spotted a man “holding a female adult inside the vehicle,” according to Willison.

Moreno Valley PD K-9 “Herbie” sustained numerous injuries while helping subdue a violent man who was caught on video repeatedly punching the Police Service Dog in the face, shaking him violently by his snout, and trying to strangle him with his own lead. RVCNews photo

Deputies ended up struggling with the man, later identified as Matthew Ruvalcaba, 22, of Moreno Valley, in an effort to free the woman.

During the struggle, the woman was was able to free herself from Ruvalcaba‘s hold with help from the deputies, at which time “the suspect pushed away from the officers, got out of the vehicle and ran after the woman,” said Willison.

Deputies prevented Ruvalcaba from catching or harming the victim, causing him to begin fighting with officers at the scene.

A radio call for priority assistance brought other deputies and a patrol supervisor, as well Deputy Murphy and K-9 Herbie, a Belgian Malinois who just celebrated his fourth birthday.

During the ensuing melee as deputies struggled with Ruvalcaba, Herbie was brought in to assist in subduing him. The suspect “fought with K-9 Herbie and got a hold of Herbie’s leash and attempted to wrap it around his neck to strangle” the dog, according to Willison.

A video shot by a local stringer-photographer and obtained by RCNS the morning of the incident, also showed the violently resisting suspect repeatedly punch Herbie in the face and grab the K-9  by his snout and shake his head violently, all while deputies tried to gain control of the man.

SEE ORIGINAL STORY, ALL PHOTOS: Suspicious vehicle call leads to wild MV melee as man attacks, punches, throws, sheriff’s K-9

Officials eventually overpowered and subdued Ruvalcaba and arrested the man for a variety of charges, including false imprisonment, resisting arrest, domestic battery, and causing injury to a Police Service Dog. He was taken to an area hospital prior to being booked into the county jail in Riverside, according to Willison.

After Herbie was reevaluated during a follow-up visit to a local veterinarian’s office, Moreno Valley PD officials thanked the community for their support and concern for the rambunctious and playful four-legged officer and announced in a social media release that they were are happy to report that K9 Herbie had just been cleared to return to the job he loves.

Herbie says he’s ready to hit the streets after getting a clean bill of health during a follow up visit to his favorite veterinary clinic. MVPD photo

Anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact Deputy Murphy at the Moreno Valley Police Department at (951) 486-6700. Callers can refer to incident file number MV182520029 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also anonymously submit a tip using the Sheriff’s CrimeTips online form.

Click any image to open full-size gallery.

Click here to view all 35 photos from the original incident.


Contact the writer:

Trevor Montgomery, 47, recently moved to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 14 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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