Metro Officer’s Arrest For D.V. and DUI Makes us Wonder–Does Sheriff Gillespie Know the Definition of “Transparency”

Transparency:

trans·par·en·cy noun \tran(t)s-ˈper-ən(t)-sē\

having visibility or accessibility of information…

Nearly four months after being stopped for speeding with an alleged blood alcohol level of .22, a Metro Corrections officer was arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence and driving on a revoked license. Additionally, Jason Grove, a 16 year veteran of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, was charged with Domestic violence during his Thursday arrest.

CCDC Jailer Jason Grove faces DV and DUI charges.

Grove, 47, was allegedly stopped in late April for speeding when, according to police reports, he failed field sobriety tests. Authorities further allege Grove had a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit during the April incident, but have released no additional details on the DUI incident or the events which lead to his being charged with Domestic Violence.

Why Metro waited nearly four months before arresting Grove or releasing the DUI incident to the public has not been explained, but does seem in direct contradiction to Sheriff Doug Gillespie’s continued promise to ensure Metro maintains a reputation of integrity, transparency and community inclusion, a promise first made after Gillespie was caught lying to the public about the crash that took the life of Metro Officer James Manor. Gillespie was emphatic for days after the 2009 crash that Manor and a fellow officer had their lights and sirens on as they sped down Flamingo road at speeds exceeding 100 mph in the moments before Manor collided with Calvin Darling, an employee in the Bellagio’s engineering department  who was just trying to make it home alive after his work shift. He maintained this position despite numerous witnesses who came forward to contradict Metro’s account.

James Manor

Darling was immediately blamed for the accident, his heroic efforts to try to save Manor from his burning vehicle ignored, and he was immediately charged with driving under the influence despite a blood alcohol level less than 20% the legal limit. Although Darling eventually received a six figure settlement from Metro, the department did very little to fully exonerate the man vilified to protect the reputation of a reckless officer, as Gillespie’s weak “Mea culpa” below demonstrates.

I guess we should have known when the sheriff’s first display of Metro’s new level of transparency was to withhold the name of the second officer speeding in the dark of night without lights or sirens alerting fellow drivers. This was also the driver that initially told the “lie heard ’round the valley,” set up the innocent Darling to be arrested, painted a villain, an enemy of law enforcement. A reputation that stuck, as even today, the blame for the accident is placed on Darling on the police memorial sites such as Policeone.com, and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

So are we supposed to take Gillespie’s decision to keep this story from the public the same way we should take his silence about the department’s recent backroom deal to let the Drunk Driving Detective, Timothy Nicothodes, receive a medical retirement rather that the customary termination that most cops turned convicted felons are awarded.

Or better yet, Gillespie should just let us all know what his personal definition of “TRANSPARENCY” is because he sure doesn’t seem to have the same one the rest of the English-speaking world does.

Grove is currently on paid administrative leave pending both criminal and internal investigations. In 2011 taxpayers shelled out $141,771.97 in total pay & benefits to C.O. Grove.

A Tragic Thing Happened on The Way To The Strip Club — Sentencing Ends Detective’s Metro Career But Not His Paycheck

His Drunken Quest  For Montana Strippers

Derailed Detective’s Decade-long Career

But Nicothodes Has the Last Laugh

Former Las Vegas Metropolitan Detective Timothy Nicothodes was formally sentenced July, 12, 2012 in Yellowstone County District Court for criminal endangerment and driving under the influence. The ten-year veteran of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department saw the final chapter of his night of drunken debauchery written last week during an hour-long sentencing hearing in Montana.

Timothy Nicothodes’ Montana mug shot

According to The Billings Gazette, Judge Gregory Todd ordered Nicothodes to serve a three-year deferred sentence and pay a $3,000 fine for the felony criminal endangerment charge. In addition, Todd ordered the former detective to serve six months in jail and pay a $500 fine to satisfy the misdemeanor DUI conviction. The the convictions resulted from Nicothodes guilty plea to the DUI and “no contest” plea to the felony earlier this year. Both sentences are to run concurrently and all but the three days already served by Nicothodes were suspended.

What’s troubling is that Nicothodes, who served as a DEA agent for six years prior to joining LVMPD, was able to avoid termination for his actions. Despite Sheriff Doug Gillespie’s promise to make LVMPD a transparent agency which holds its officers accountable for their actions, Nicothodes was able to negotiate a secret deal with Metro which granted him a full medical retirement, rather than the expected termination a felony conviction mandates.

We can only speculate as to whether or not Nicothodes marriage to Deputy Chief Kathy O’Connor, Gillespie’s chief of staff, had any impact on his obtaining such a sweetheart deal.

According to police reports Nicothodes was going about 98 mph the night of May 26 when his 2002 Chevrolet Silverado pickup crashed into the back of a 2009 Ford Focus on a two-lane roadway in Yellowstone County. Evidence indicated he did not even attempted to brake, police said.

Both vehicles rolled. Nicothodes, who was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the truck, was in critical condition at the time, but has since recovered.

According to the report, the detective had a blood-alcohol content between 0.192 percent and 0.219 percent. The legal limit in Montana is 0.08 percent.

Two people in the Focus were diagnosed with soft-tissue damage and had cuts and bruises, but their injuries were non life-threatening, the report said.

Police later contacted the parents of a woman in the Focus who said they knew Nicothodes and had been with him in a bar that night, the report said.

They told police they saw him drinking “significant” amounts of alcohol as they had dinner together, including many shots and mixed drinks.

Nicothodes later asked them whether they would accompany him to the Laurel, MT strip club, Shotgun Willie’s, but they declined, police said. One saw him urinating in the parking lot before he left the bar, the report said.

Nicothodes was hired by the Metropolitan Police Department in 1999 and is married to Deputy Chief Kathy O’Connor, chief of staff to Sheriff Douglas Gillespie according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

In 2007, Nicothodes as a patrol officer shot and killed burglary suspect Joseph M. Justin after Justin pointed a gun at the officer’s partner.

Nicothodes was placed on unpaid leave when felony charges were filed against him in Montana, before he was able to receive a medical retirement,

In 2010 taxpayers paid Nicothodes $136,497.35 and an additional $88,186.71 was paid by taxpayers in 2011.

Uniformed Sexual Predator — Officer Accused of Lewd Behavior Resigns

Las Vegas Metro Police

 Purging Itself of Bad Cops

at a Record Pace.

A Las Vegas police officer accused of stopping female drivers while on duty and coercing them into exposing their breasts and groping at least one victim resigned Tuesday, June 12.

Metro Officer John Norman resigned following charges of open and gross lewdness.

Police Sgt. John Sheahan confirmed today that officer John Norman is no longer employed with the Metropolitan Police Department.

Norman, 33, was arrested in February and charged with felony oppression under the color of law, gross misdemeanor oppression under the color of law, felony coercion and gross misdemeanor open and gross lewdness after two separate incidents in which he allegedly assaulted the women. In addition to those charges, officials in Metro’s Internal Affairs division are reviewing the claims of two additional women alleging some form of sexual misconduct. These incidents, which allegedly occurred during traffic stops as well, did not meet the standards required for criminal charges. While police have not yet released details regarding the latest allegations, investigators have been looking at whether Norman’s actions might have broken internal regulations.

Sgt. John Sheahan

Norman has been on unpaid leave since charges were filed against him on February 1, His resignation essentially ends his Las Vegas law enforcement career which he had just begun in 2008. Sheahan assures the public that Norman’s resignation will in no way impede the IA investigation The ongoing internal investigation is will more than likely find Norman’s behavior constituted serious  violations of policy, “which will become part of his personnel file,” Sheahan said.

Sheehan took this opportunity to let the public know that the LVMPD is committed to bring accountability and transparency to a department plagued with secrets and cover-ups. While Sheriff Doug Gillespie has repeatedly promised voters he would bring reform to Metro, he has been plagued with incidents that exposed Metro as a department mired in cover-ups and rampant officer misconduct.

Officer Manor’s cruiser following the fatal 2009 crash

After he was caught lying to the public about officer James Manor’s culpability in 2009 traffic accident that claimed his life.  Gillespie was emphatic for days after the accident that both Manor and another officer had their lights and sirens on as they were making their way to the domestic violence call. Gillespie further defended Metro’s arrest of Calvin Darling,  an employee in the Bellagio’s engineering department, who was on his way home, on charges of drunk driving. After blood tests revealed Darling was not impaired and witnesses came forward adamant that neither of the Metro cruisers has their emergency lights on that night.

Following that incident, which cost taxpayers $120,000 to settle with Darling, Gillespie found himself in the midst of a rash of controversial fatal officer involved shootings culminating with a record number of  fatal incidents in 2011 and more than $6.5 million in taxpayer-funded settlements since 2008. However, despite his officers desperate attempts to avoid accountability, Gillespie has seemed willing to purge the department of rogue cops like Norman over the past few months.

Prior to Norman’s resignation, the department was expected to announce the termination of Metro Detective Timothy Nicothodes, who has been on unpaid leave following an accident he caused after a night of heavy drinking in Montana. Nicothodes plead guilty to a felony charge of criminal endangerment earlier this year and was scheduled to be formally sentenced late last week. The detective, whose wife, Deputy Chief Kathy O’Connor, is chief of staff to Sheriff Douglas Gillespie, was expected to be officially terminated once his sentence was officially entered into the Montana courts. Metro has of now, not announced the detective’s official termination.

Timothy Nicothodes’ Montana mug shot

Norman’s criminal case is now in the hands of District Attorney Steve Wolfson and the Clark County court system. On Monday, he waived his right to a preliminary hearing his case was bound over to District Court. His next court appearance was set for June 25, but has been delayed until mid-July.

LVMPD Releases Department Findings on Two Cases of Deadly Force

With No Inquest In Sight

And The DA’s Office Rulings Already  a Month Old

Gillespie Aims for “Unprecedented Level of Accountability.”

The reports don’t contain any earth shattering information. They are basically just a rehash of the findings the Clark County District Attorney quietly released last month, but Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie says the release of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s (LVMPD) internal findings regarding fatal officer encounters is major step towards the transparency he promised the community since he was caught misinforming the public around the circumstance surrounding the 2009 death of office James Manor.

Benjamin Bowman was shot by LVMPD officer during robbery attempt.

During a press conference held yesterday Gillespie told the community “Addressing the use of force with the public is one of Metro’s top priorities,” and that by releasing the findings of both The Force Investigative Team  the Office of Internal Oversight. The OIO is was formed in February if this year in response to the public outcry following the controversial shooting deaths of Trevon Cole, Erik Scott and Stanley Gibson, as well as the publication of the Las Vegas Review Journal’s investigationinto the past 20 years of police shootings in Clark County.

LVMPD Sheriff Doug Gillespie.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson’s recent decision to no longer wait for legal challenges to the Coroner’s Inquest to be resolved, and released his office’s findings in seven of the 19 fatal use of force incidents that await the Nevada Supreme Court Ruling on the whether or not the Inquest violates officer’s Constitutional rights. Gillespie did acknowledge that the privacy rights were  concern while he contemplated releasing internal documents that have for decades remained secret.

“I believe the release of these documents will place this process and its outcome in the full light of day without jeopardizing the right to privacy of our officers involved,” Gillespie stated.

Sight of the 2010 Shooting death of Anthony Brenes

The reports released by Metro covered the department’s findings in the Dec 11th, 2010 Taser death of Anthony Jones. Officers Mark Hatten, Timothy English, Richard Fonbuena, and Steven Skenandore were  cleared by the Da’s office in May. Hatten had pulled Jones over for a routine traffic infraction. The stop culminated in Hatten using his x-26 Electronic Control device (Taser) 19 times on the Jones who died on the scene. All officers involved were found to have acted within department guidelines, however Jones’ death was the catalyst to Metro’s change in its Taser Policy. The other two reports also found no violations of department policies by the officer’s involved in the shooting deaths of 22-year-old Benjamin Bowman and  32-year-old Anthony Brenes. Both men were killed on November 15th, 2010. Bowman was killed during the robbery of a PT’s Pub and Brenes, armed with a sticks and stones, was shot after a police responded to a domestic disturbance at an East Las Vegas Speedee Mart.

The Sheriff says the OIO and Fit reports will be made public 30 days following the DA’s release of its findings.