Friendly fire killed a Las Vegas police dog during a running gunbattle with a man accused of killing two neighbors and shooting at officers last week in a neighborhood, a police administrator said Monday.
Four officers fired 23 shots, including four shotgun blasts, and 31-year-old suspect James Craig Simpson fired several more before he was wounded Thursday, Clark County Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said.
Simpson was left paralyzed, McMahill said, and was in critical but stable condition at a hospital.
McMahill didn't provide details about the shooting deaths of Branden Hughes, 31, and his mother, Felicia Simone Wimberly-Hughes, 46.
Their bodies were found at a home when officers responding to calls about shots being fired discovered Simpson allegedly waving a gun in the street and "shouting things at them that don't make sense to them," McMahill said.
McMahill said Simpson put the gun down, and one officer's body camera recorded him repeatedly imploring Simpson to leave his 9mm handgun on the pavement and back away before the K-9, a male Belgian Malinois named Nicky, was released toward Simpson in the street.
"Please do not pick up the gun," Officer Carlos Luna says. "We're not here to harm you. Please do not pick up the gun. Step away."
Then, Simpson is seen picking up the weapon and beginning to run, firing at least one shot toward officers who also open fire.
McMahill said the dog bit Simpson and held before being fatally wounded by a police gunshot.
Some nearby homes were also struck by stray bullets, but no other injuries were reported and none of the police officers was injured.
They were identified as Luna and patrol Officer Abudhabi Lewis, traffic Officer James Coovert and K-9 handler Sgt. Eric Kerns. Each of the officers has at least 10 years on the job. Kerns has 24 years. All were placed on paid leave pending the outcome of departmental and district attorney reviews.
The shooting was the fourth involving officers in the department in 2016. None has been fatal.
"This incident was highly charged, very dynamic and touched a lot of people, including the responding officers who were fired upon," McMahill said.
A homicide investigation is ongoing, McMahill said, and Simpson is expected to face multiple felony charges including murder, attempted murder, attempted kidnapping and weapon charges when he's able to appear in Las Vegas justice court.
It wasn't clear Monday if Simpson had a lawyer.
A departmental memorial service is scheduled Wednesday for the dog at a pet cemetery in Las Vegas where 64 other police, military and government service animals have been buried in a "K-9 Heroes" section.
Nicky was one of 37 Las Vegas police K-9 animals. He had recently returned to patrol after being seriously wounded Feb. 12 confronting a machete-wielding man barricaded in an apartment, police said.