A recently released video (below) shows police in Henderson, Nevada, turning a police dog loose on a 17-month-old girl on Jan. 30.
Police ordered Arturo Arenas-Alvarez, whom they mistook for a black male robbery suspect, out of his car, and, later, turned the K9 unit loose. The dog went inside the car and bit the toddler, Ayleen, on the right arm, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Arenas-Alvarez told the police in broken English that he had his child with him, but the dog had already bitten the girl by the time an officer yelled: "There's an infant in that car! There's an infant in that car!"
The family's lawyer said that Ayleen suffered nine punctures or abrasions. The City of Henderson recently paid the family $13,000 to settle a legal claim.
Police had reportedly concluded that Arenas-Alvarez was not their suspect after he came out of the car, but Sgt. James Mitchell, who had recently arrived, turned his dog loose to search inside the car.
"In my opinion, the dog was used too fast," Henderson Police Chief Patrick Moers told the Review-Journal in a recent interview.
The police department sat on the video for almost a year before releasing it to the Review-Journal, which had requested all records relevant to the incident.
Mitchell would not speak to the media, but he voluntarily switched from the K9 unit to patrol in August, according to Moers. The dog, Doerak, has since been assigned to another cop. The police department also launched an internal investigation into the incident, which concluded in July. Moers did not reveal the details of the investigation but said that no policy changes have been made since the incident.
Police originally answered a call from a health food store owner who said that someone had threatened to rob him, but it turned out that the customer -- who turned out not to be Arenas-Alvarez -- tried to return some protein powder, which the store refused to take back because it had been opened. The customer allegedly said he was going to rob the owner, but no robbery occurred.
"I don't understand why it happened," Arenas-Alvarez told KSNV. "I believe they are supposed to be trained for this situation. I practically didn’t see any trained officers."
"My daughter wakes up many times in the middle of the night scared," Arenas-Alvarez added. "She occasionally wakes up crying."
WARNING: DISTURBING VIDEO, NOT GRAPHIC