Requiem For a Chimp–Primate’s Death Exposes More Metro Monkey Business

Despite Sheriffs Promise That Things Would Change,

The Second Escape of CJ the Chimp

Brings a Second Round of Lies From Metro

When the news broke that C.J., one of two chimps who had escaped last month, was on the loose again, the last thing we expected was for this to turn into another example of how little the Las Vegas Metropolitan police force respects the citizens of Las Vegas. But that disrespect was evident as ever when the department could resist telling us lies exposed by video a month ago.

It didn’t take Carnac the Magnificent to predict that when two chimps escaped from their home in Northwest Las Vegas last month that, with LVMPD responding, at least one would be the victim of a police bullet. After all two full-grown chimps are not something police deal with everyday, and what little information about these creatures most of us have stems from a recent Connecticut incident where a woman was brutally attacked.

So when Sgt. Andrew Legrow took the life of Buddy the Chimp, not many outside of PETA were up in arms. What the public didn’t expect was how much the death of Buddy would teach us about how little Metro has progressed since Sheriff Doug Gillespie vowed to make his department the most accountable and transparent law enforcement agency in the country. The low bar he set for himself not withstanding, it’s clear Gillespie has made very little progress in that area. Last month’s shooting shows us that LVMPD is still a department with a culture of dishonesty, filled with overgrown adolescents who are poster children for the pitfalls of police militarization.

Sheriff Doug Gillespie

For those unfamiliar with the last moments of Buddy’s life, here’s a quick recap. Buddy and his longtime companion, C.J., escaped from their enclosure at 5720 Rowland Ave on the morning of July 12th. Both Animal Control and Metro were called to the scene. Arriving first, Metro officers established a perimeter they felt safe in allowing the chimps to occupy while awaiting Animal Control’s arrival with a tranquilizer gun. At 10:45, with no word yet from Animal Control, Buddy began to cross Ann Road, the Southern boundary of Metro’s perimeter. At that point Legrow opened fire, killing Buddy in the middle of the street.

At this point few would argue that Metro didn’t act in a sensible manner. Officers had determined a course of action, set up a point where action was required and took action when that moment came. What was inexcusable that day was the decision by Metro officials to lie to the public about what happened.

In a press release dated the day of the incident, Metro tells a hero’s tale of the “sole officer who stood between the agitated animal and a large group of citizens including many children fired multiple shotgun rounds, striking and killing the animal.” We can all picture the brave officer placing himself in harm’s way, standing between an enraged beast and innocent kids. It turns out, however, that the only thing accurate in Metro’s statement is that a “sole officer..fired multiple…rounds, striking and killing the animal.”

What Metro failed to anticipate was that an event of this nature would have produced a video captured by a member of the public, and that any such video would directly contradict the story Metro was telling the public. It was just this arrogance by Metro that lead to yet another exposure of department lies, because such a video did exist and was made public. The video, described by the Las Vegas Review Journal, “shows the chimp, who does not appear agitated, ambling along. An officer armed with an AR-15 rifle shoots Buddy at least twice as the chimp begins to cross Ann Road.”

What is clear here is that Metro’s default position in any given situation is to lie to the public. Buddy was not agitated and buddy was not killed with a shotgun, but rather an AR-15, a weapon entirely unnecessary for the situation. If Metro is so willing to lie about an event where they were 100% in the right, why should we believe things have changed at all from the time Metro officials lied to us about Stanley Gibson, Trevon Cole, Erik Scott. etc. And if Metro officers are so encouraged to “play with their toys” such as an AR-15 that an officer would even consider it appropriate to use one on an unarmed primate, the entire community is in danger a fate similar to Buddy’s

Ever since Gillespie stood up in front of news cameras and lied to us all about the circumstances surrounding the death of Officer James Manor, and continued to lie (despite eyewitness contradicting Metro’s version) until video was about to be released proving Manor was operating without lights and sirens, the public has not fully trusted Metro.

Sadly it seems nothing has changed.

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.