Kitt the Legendary Police Dog Is Now a Statue

Bill Cushing, the heroic animal's K9 unit partner, helped unveil the bronze sculpture at an emotional ceremony in Braintree.

William Cushing Jr. hugs K9 trainer Sgt. Mark OReilly during the unveiling of the Kitt statue. / Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

Standing on the corner of Braintree’s busy Union Street, Officer Bill Cushing clasped his hands over his mouth, and held back tears, as a group of schoolchildren unveiled a beautiful bronze statue of his fallen canine partner, Kitt, outside the Braintree Police headquarters. Held yesterday on October 19, the emotional ceremony was the latest honor paid to Kitt, a heroic police dog killed in 2021 and the heartrending subject of a lengthy magazine profile from Boston’s August 2023 issue.

“I miss and think about Kitt every day,” said Cushing, who lost his 12-year K9 companion in a violent shootout in East Braintree’s deep woods on June 4, 2021. “I knew that he gave his all every time we went out, and he inspired me to do the same.”

See also: The Heartrending Tale of Kitt the Police Dog and His Human Partner

The auburn-colored, Belgian Malinois police dog became a legend on the South Shore after he and Cushing made several difficult tracks and captures. The dog famously tracked down a shooter who opened fire in the South Shore Plaza mall in July 2020, striking a teenage girl. The shooter fled across the highway into a thick, swampland, where he was somehow found by Kitt, half-submerged in water. Earlier, the duo also survived a 2016 shootout with an armed criminal in Braintree, an incident that left the gunman dead and Cushing, Kitt and another officer unharmed.

In the 2021 incident, Cushing was off-duty when he was called to McCusker Drive to track 34-year-old Andrew Homen, a Brockton man with a criminal record who was wanted for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. Homen was armed with two handguns when he fled into the woods, followed by Kitt, Cushing and fellow officers Richard Seibert and Matthew Donoghue.

The dog led the cops through high, dense brush to a huge boulder, where Homen was hiding. The dog leaped toward the rock to bite Homen when the fugitive emerged and unloaded a flurry of shots, striking and killing Kitt. He blasted Cushing five times and Donoghue once. Donoghue was shot in the arm, while Cushing took two in the chest, one in the side and two in his left arm, nearly blowing off the limb. The officers returned fire, fatally striking Homen.

A group of Braintree school children raised money to build the Kitt statue from their lemonade stands. / MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images / Contributor

Kitt was blown backwards by the gunshots and landed just inches from where Cushing lay on the ground fighting for his life. Seibert, a former U.S. Army medic, tied tourniquets around the arms of Donoghue and Cushing. Doctors said the maneuver likely saved their lives. Cushing’s bulletproof vest saved him from the two chest shots.

After the shooting, Kitt was laid to rest with full police honors, following an emotional service at Gillette Stadium. A group of Braintree school kids—Gavin and Connor Flynn, Marina and Sophia Whitelaw and Ella Wood—started a community fundraising drive, fueled by their own lemonade stands, that raised $23,000 to build the bronze statue.

The striking bust, created by Lena Toritch—a renowned master sculptor originally from Russia—was installed outside the Braintree Police station, where it will live with another new memorial honoring the town’s officers killed in the line of duty.

“If not for Kitt, it could have been a dramatically different day on June 4, 2021,” Braintree Police Chief Timothy Cohoon said during the Thursday ceremony, which attracted hundreds of community members and police officers, including dozens of K9 officers from across the state.

Massachusetts Department of Corrections Sgt. Mark O’Reilly, a veteran K9 trainer who selected Kitt for Cushing and trained them, recalled the pair as “an amazing team, unlike any I have seen before.”

Officers Matthew Donoghue (left) and William Cushing Jr., Kitt’s K9 unit partner, check out a small replica of the statue during the unveiling ceremony. / Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

“Billy and Kitt found themselves in the worst of the worst situations an astonishing amount of times,” O’Reilly said. “I think back on that last track: What we know of it now, is that Billy and Kitt were the best prepared for that day. Kitt gave us back Billy, Dickie and Matt. He bought them time, not only to react, but time to continue their lives.”

Capping the ceremony was an emotional bagpipe processional and a “walk-by” the statue by police K9s and their handlers.

Cushing, the son of a Braintree detective and a father of two young girls, has been rehabbing his severely damaged left arm ever since the shooting and still does not have full use of it. He’s launched the K9 Kitt Foundation, which raises money to support K9 handlers injured on-duty as well as provide life-saving equipment for police dogs.

Cushing ended his emotional address by urging attendees to find inspiration in Kitt’s example. “Like K9 Kitt lived his life,” he said, looking toward the statue, “Keep moving forward.”