Clark County DA Continues to Clear Cops Without Inquests

Wolfson Clears More Killer Cops

Even Those

Who Refused to Cooperate With Investigators

Clark County’s rookie District Attorney has decided once again not to wait for the fact-finding process known as the Coroner’s Inquest and has cleared five more valley officers for their roles in the separate deaths of Benjamin Hunter Bowman, 22, and Anthony Jones, 44.

Bowman was killed during a botched robbery attempt at the PT’s Pub at 2280 Nellis in November, 2010. The shooting was captured on video and witnessed by several patrons and employees of the Pub. All of which showed that officers Michael Franco, Phillip Zaragoza and Peter Kruse shot Bowman in a clear attempt to save the life of a female bartender Bowman was holding at knife point.

However the death of Jones is less cut and dry. Jones was killed, not in an attempt to protect the lives of the officers or the public, but in an attempt to restrain him. Jones was spotted driving without his headlights at 1:00am on December 11, 2010 by Officer Mark Hatten. After pulling over, Jones fled the scene on foot and was eventually taken down by Hatten and fellow officers Timothy English, Richard Fonbuena, and Steven Skenandore. The resulting attempt to take Jones into custody,  where officer Hatten and English Tased the suspect over a dozen times in two minutes, resulted in his death.

Current Metro policy prohibits Tasing subjects more than three times in a given encounter. That, along with recent court rulings that Tasers cannot be used simply as compliance tool make this incident murkier.

GIANCARLO PESCI Chief Deputy District Attorney

In the decision letter released today Wolfson’s  Chief Deputy District Attorney, Giancarlo Pesci writes Nevada law, “clearly states that homicides which are justifiable or excusable are not punishable. (NRS 200.190) …The homicide appearing to be justifiable or excusable, the person indicted shall, upon trial, be fully acquitted and discharged,” which is fine. However, since the only offense Jones had been observed committing was a minor traffic violation, the DA’s assertion that the killing was justified under NRS 200.140, ignores the felony requirement contained in the statute. That leaves us with the what is required to determine the Jones homicide as justified.

Pesci,  goes on to explain that there is no “factual or legal basis upon which to charge Officers Hatten, English, Fonbuena, and Skenandore,” which is not true. The report tells us Jones’ death “has been deemed a homicide by the coroner,” and officers Hatten and English’s excessive use of their Tasers were a contributing factor in that death.

That is all the State has the burden to prove here. In order to be protected un NRS 200.190 the killers are required by NRS 200.170 to provide evidence that their actions were justifiable  “Burden of proving circumstances of mitigation or justifiable or excusable homicide….The burden of proving circumstances of mitigation, or that justify or excuse the homicide, will devolve on the accused. (NRS 200.170)

This is something that the officers have refused to do. According to the statement by the DA’s office, all five officers refused to provide official accounts of their actions. Without statements from the officers, the DA’s office has held them to a lower standard that required by Nevada Law. This is not what Wolfson promised the community he would do when he took over the office after  the former DA, David Roger, left to accept a six figure deal to defend the members of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association.

Let us know what you think. Should Wolfson continue clearing cops before an inquest is held? Did he make  the right call here?

4 thoughts on “Clark County DA Continues to Clear Cops Without Inquests

  1. Pingback: Coroner’s Inquest — Delayed Indefinitely « clarkcountycriminalcops

  2. Pingback: Wolfson Clears Seven More Cops involved in Three 2011 Shootings « clarkcountycriminalcops

  3. Pingback: LVMPD Releases Department Findings on Two Cases of Deadly Force « clarkcountycriminalcops

  4. Pingback: Six Month Review of Metro’s Use of Force Policy Brings Historic Changes | clarkcountycriminalcops

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