05/13/2014 03:21 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Police K9 Attacks Wrong Man

Colin McConnell via Getty Images

A case of mistaken identity left a South Dakota man injured Sunday, when a police K9 confused him for a criminal.

"I think it was an honest mistake," Sam Clemens, a spokesperson for the Sioux Falls Police Department, told The Huffington Post.

The dog attack occurred at about 11 p.m., Sunday, when police were searching for 47-year-old Thomas Jerome Williams. According to Clemens, Williams was involved in an altercation with another man earlier that night, during which Williams allegedly threatened him with a Swiss Army knife.

When police caught up with Williams, he was in the company of a 48-year-old man.

"The two were walking together when the K9 officer approached," Clemens said. "The officer told them to stop [and] get on the ground. The person not involved complied and got on ground [sic]. [Williams] was not complying and was still holding the knife."

Williams allegedly ignored commands from the officer to comply and was, according to Clemens, unfazed when the officer said he was going to release his K9.

"The handler thought the K9 was focused on [Williams], but when he let him go, the K9 went to the guy who was on the ground [and] bit him on the arm," Clemens said.

The dog was quickly pulled off the innocent bystander and directed at Williams, who was ultimately taken down by the K9, police said.

Williams faces several charges, including aggravated assault, obstruction and resisting arrest.

The innocent bystander, whose name has not been released, was treated and released from a local hospital for his bite wound.

The incident is currently under review by police.

"Anytime our dogs are used there will be a review with the administration," Clemens said. "I don’t think we've ever had [another] instance like this where a dog has bit the wrong person, so we're in new territory."

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