As soon as the dog was released, it was clear something was wrong.
"My baby," Arturo Arenas-Alvarez said in halting English as a Henderson police K9 ran toward his sport utility vehicle, which sat nearby in a parking lot. "I've got my baby."
"There's an infant in that car! There's an infant in that car!" an officer yelled to his colleagues.
It was too late. The Belgian Malinois had already gone into the SUV and bitten Arenas-Alvarez's 17-month-old daughter, Ayleen, on the right arm.
She was left with nine punctures or abrasions, according to her family lawyer, but escaped serious injury.
Henderson recently agreed to pay the girl's family $13,000 to settle a legal claim. After legal fees, $8,537.69 was put into a bank account for Ayleen. The money can't be removed without a court order.
Police videos of the Jan. 30 incident show officers who ordered a confused Arenas-Alvarez out of his vehicle quickly concluded he wasn't the robbery suspect they were trying to find.
But then Sgt. James Mitchell, who had arrived on the scene seconds earlier, got out of his cruiser and released his dog.
In a recent interview, Police Chief Patrick Moers said Mitchell should have communicated better with fellow officers.
"In my opinion, the dog was used too fast," the chief said.
Police recently turned over dash-cam videos of the incident, eight months after the Las Vegas Review-Journal first requested all records relating to the case. The videos, several hours of which were made available for viewing, show not only what happened, but how officers reacted in the immediate aftermath.
Moers would not discuss the results of an internal investigation that was completed July 28, but said no policy changes have been made because of the case.
Mitchell declined to comment through a department spokesman and referred questions to the chief. He remains a sergeant but moved from K9 to patrol in August, a move Moers said was voluntary.
His 4-year-old dog, Doerak, has been assigned to a new officer.
Moers said a police dog biting an innocent bystander was unprecedented in his time in the department. Henderson police dogs bite only a few people at most each year, usually suspects they've found who resist in some way, officials said.
The city said it has not received a single other legal claim related to a dog bite since 2011.
The videos and police report suggest a language barrier, confusion over what had happened inside the store and a lack of communication between officers contributed to the mistake.
"Sounds like your worst-case freaking scenario," one officer said minutes afterward.
Minutes of confusion
About 11 a.m. on Jan. 30, the owner of a health food store called police saying someone had threatened to rob him.
Officers raced to the shopping center off Eastern Avenue just south of the 215 Beltway.
A witness told police the assailant had apparently gotten into a red SUV in the parking lot.
But in fact, that SUV belonged to Arenas-Alvarez, who worked at the Baja Fresh in the shopping center and had just pulled into the spot with his baby daughter in the backseat.
At first, officers couldn't tell whether anyone was in the SUV. Then they saw movement.
Mitchell, who was driving to the scene, can be heard on the radio telling other officers: "Stand by a couple of minutes. K9-1 is about two minutes out."
The officers who were already there used the public address system to order anyone in the car to roll down the windows and stick his arms out.
Arenas-Alvarez didn't appear to understand, but stepped out of the car and — guided by one officer's rudimentary Spanish — walked toward the officers.
Immediately, police could see he was not their slim 6-foot-1-inch suspect, reported to be wearing a black and tan T-shirt.
"That's not him, dude. That's not a black man in a black shirt," one officer said to another. (Most of the officers are not identified in the videos.)
The officers politely reassured Arenas-Alvarez things were fine, with one telling him: "They thought that you were involved in a robbery. You don't look like the person, so it's OK now, OK?"
Meanwhile, Mitchell had arrived on the scene with his dog, Doerak. Officers were heading toward the SUV, guns drawn, to search it, but Mitchell called them off.
Another PA announcement was heard: "Anybody inside that car, stand up now ... sending a police dog in."
Arenas-Alvarez didn't understand what was happening until it was too late. As he slowly started to tell the officers he had seen the man they might be looking for, Mitchell released the dog.
It was less than 90 seconds since Mitchell had driven into the shopping center.
Doerak ran toward the car. The bite itself is not visible in the video, but within seconds, Mitchell and other officers walked, then ran, toward the SUV.
Mitchell grabbed Doerak, shouting "No!" then pulled the dog away and put him back on his leash.
As soon as an officer reopened the SUV's door, Ayleen's screams could be heard.
"Check on the baby now!" one officer yelled, and Mitchell cursed several times.
"God damn, guys, you gotta f------ tell me!" he yelled at fellow officers.
One replied, "We don't know. He doesn't speak English."
Mitchell is a father himself, Moers said, and was devastated when his dog injured a child.
"His heart went through his throat when he finds out that there's somebody inside the car," the chief said.
Over and over, Mitchell and other officers made one point: It could have been much worse.
"The last forearm, the guy didn't have anything left but bone," Mitchell told a fellow officer.
Mitchell explained to a colleague that he released the dog so quickly because he saw his fellow officers yelling at Arenas-Alvarez.
"Yeah, we don't let the dog — let's get his information before we send the dog in," the unidentified officer told Mitchell.
Medics soon showed up to treat Ayleen, and a Spanish-speaking officer arrived to explain to her father what had happened. Another officer brought the little girl a teddy bear.
Moers said he watched the videos and was satisfied with how Ayleen and her father were treated in the aftermath.
When police talked to the store owner who made the original call, they realized there had been no robbery attempt.
A man came into the store wanting to return some protein powder, but the store said no because it had already been opened. The man got upset and said he wanted to exchange his bag for a new one.
He grabbed a new bag and opened it, then said something about robbing the owner, the owner told police. But the man ultimately left with the bag he'd come in with.
After the bite, Mitchell expressed his relief Ayleen hadn't been hurt worse, saying it was clear Doerak had backed off when he realized she was a child and not a threat.
"Thank God the dog's got a soul," Mitchell said. "If anybody ever says they don't, there's an example that they do."
Other officers soon started talking about how best to write reports on the incident and the likely fallout.
"All that happened was totally solid. Just a s----- set of circumstances that all rolled into — what could've been much worse. So just get that whole timeline out there," one officer told others.
Another officer talked about likely second-guessing from commanders.
"You know these guys upstairs," he said. "In two weeks — they're going to have two weeks to think about it. They're going to go, 'Why didn't you fill-in-the-blank?' "
The internal investigation that followed focused on whether a similar incident could be prevented in the future, Moers said.
Departmental policy allows a dog to be used to search a vehicle in such a situation, the chief said, but in this case the dog was used too fast.
The outcome highlights the need for officers to communicate and not "rush in," Moers said.
Moers said officers have to work in emergencies with colleagues they don't know well. A K9 officer, for example, might not know the patrol officers on scene.
That makes it all the more important, the chief said, to "ensure that you have all the information and don't rush to make tactical decisions without all the information."
Moers said Mitchell had good intentions — trying to protect his fellow officers — when he decided to "clear" the car with the dog rather than let officers do it.
After the bite, Mitchell and Doerak were immediately taken off the street pending an investigation — a routine move, similar to an officer being put on desk duty after he shoots someone.
Henderson's six-person K9 unit has four drug dogs and four patrol dogs that are mostly used for searches. Doerak is one of the latter.
Master instructors within the department teach new handlers, and officers go for outside training with Las Vegas police and sometimes out of state.
Henderson dogs bit only one person each year in 2011 and 2012, two people in 2013, five people in 2014 and three people this year through early December.
Doerak has been retrained and is now with another officer, Christopher Landis. Moers said he is a "good working dog" with years of service left. The dog would be retired only if he'd done something wrong, and in this case Moers said he hadn't.
Minutes after the bite, a fellow officer told Mitchell, "Well, I'm glad you got a learning experience with a couple of pressure marks and not a learning experience with a severely injured kid."