PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — In a news conference on Thursday, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri discussed a deadly deputy-involved shooting that was later considered justified.

Deputies were dispatched on the evening of March 12, 2023 for a reported vehicle burglary. When deputies arrived, the suspect was gone, however, a sheriff’s K-9 and its handler ultimately tracked the suspect, 23-year-old Zion Bostick, to a backyard on 60th Avenue.

According to St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway, Bostick was planning a counter attack.

“The suspect was waiting for them,” St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway said at the time. “As the handler and the K-9 cleared the building, that’s when the suspect shot at the deputy, striking him several times. Then he turns his gun towards the sergeant — shot several times at the sergeant. The sergeant returned fire. At this point, I can tell you, the suspect is deceased.”

Body camera footage released Thursday appeared to show Bostick jump out from behind a building and begin shooting at K-9 handler Matthew Aitken. Sheriff Gualtieri called it an “ambush.”

Police said K-9 handler Matthew Aitken was rushed to an area hospital where he was later released. His K-9 was not struck by gunfire. Sergeant Jacob Viano, who was assisting Aitken, was not hit by gunfire either.

Cpl. Aiken is still grappling with the physical effects of the shooting nearly one month later. His arm remains in a cast, while he continues to deal with swelling and nerve issues where he was shot in the neck.

“I’m doing well. I have three doctors who are all working together, communicating about me getting better,” Aiken said. “It was nice to hear the doctors say they see no reason why I won’t make a full recovery.”

Aiken has not seen the body camera video of the incident, but said he remembers it clearly.

“I remember everything up to the point I saw Bostick. He peeked out between the houses and then went back the other way,” Aiken said. “I’ve seen that a hundred times. I’ve seen them come close and take off running.”

Aiken planned to send his K-9, Taco, after a fleeing Bostick, but instead of taking off, Bostick was still there.

“I came around the corner and he already had the gun pointed at me,” Aiken said. “I had zero time. I can’t tell you if I released Taco intentionally, or if the shots happened so fast, I dropped the leash.”

Aiken said he dropped to the ground, believing he had been shot in the head, and passed out. When he came to, he began calling for Sgt. Jacob Viano, who he’s known for 15 years.

“I woke up screaming for Jake because, you know, Jake’s been my mentor since he was a K-9 handler,” Aiken said. “I thought Jake was dead.”

“There’s no doubt that God worked His way between Jake and I,” Aiken said.

Aiken said he hopes to return to work at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in six months.