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?

DOJ Review of LVMPD officially underway

A think tank formed to 

evaluate the threat of German U-boats

will study police shootings by the LVMPD

 

The U.S. Department of Justice has hired a Washington D.C.-based management firm, The Center for Naval Analysis,  to conduct the a six-month review of the department’s policies after 142 people were killed in 378 officer-involved shootings since 1990.

Officials from CNA will travel to Nevada next week to meet with Las Vegas police and community leaders, including  American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada Executive Director Dane Claussen, even though he has been critical of an outside organization investigatine Metro rather than the DOJ itself.

The CNA was created in  the 1940s when they pioneered the field of operations

The Center of Naval Analysis was formed to track U-Boats in WWII

research by helping the Navy address the German U-boat threat. Today, they mission is much broader as they now provides “high-level research and analysis services to federal, state, and local government agencies, and non-commercial clients working in the areas of education, health research and policy, organizational learning and effectiveness, air traffic management, safety and security, and other domestic issue areas”

According to the CNA’s website, they “work to analyze and solve problems by getting as close as possible to the people, the data – and the problems themselves – in order to find the clear, credible answers government leaders need to choose the best course of action.

Recently the CNA has released studies of a 2011 Baltimore  police shooting that occurred outside a nightclub as well as  a report in 2009 of the findings and recommendations concerning the 2009 murder of four Oakland Police Department.

More on Dismissal of Scott Lawsuit

The Law Has Very Little to Do With Justice

Bill Scott Vows ‘We’re not going to go away.’

The father of slain West Point grad, Erik Scott says today’s announcement that the Federal Lawsuit against the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department should not be taken as a sign the family’s position has changed in anyway.

“I firmly believe Erik was murdered,” Bill Scott said. “The law has very little to do with justice.”

Scott said is all boils down to the “missing” surveillance video of the incident coupled with a recent 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision regarding the qualified immunity defense for police officers. Ross Goodman, the Scott family attorney,  said without the video, he didn’t feel that he could overcome a qualified immunity defense for police officers, which under Federal Law protects them them against civil lawsuits as long as their actions fall withing current law. The Scott family had counted on security footage of the incident would show the officers actions were not lawful.

Despite Costco’s use state of the art survellience systems, complete with redundant onsite recording, which streams all footage to an offsite location for archiving, no such footage exists.

Bill Scott, Erik Scott's father, says despite dismissing lawsuit,"We are not going away"

Scott who was publishing chapters of his novel, The Permit, online said dropping the suit, “allows us to pursue the launch of other initiatives that have been on the books for a while.” Scott ceased posting excerpts from the novel, descibed on its website as “A work of fiction based on the actual events of Erik B. Scott’s killing on July 10, 2010, in Las Vegas, NV. ” in August of last year.

In a posted statement Scott said “Upon advice of legal counsel, I am suspending postings on The Permit and Erik’s memorial blog websites, until our lawsuit is concluded. I am continuing to write The Permit, and will release it in full, when cleared to do so.” Scott also suspended the Erik Scott Memorial Blog for the same reasons.

Scott told the Review Journal police accountability is not just a Las Vegas issue.”The battlefield, as I see it, now moves from Vegas to Washington, California and New York.”

He added, “We’re not going to go away.”

Scott was killed after three Metro officers, William Mosher, Joshua Stark and Thomas Mendiola, were called to the Summerlin Costco after an employee saw Scott, who has a concealed weapons permit, was carrying a firearm, Although witnesses were conflicted over whether or not Scott was trying to hand over his weapon or ignoring police commands, the shooting was ruled justified but an inquest jury. I more than 150 such inquests has a jury found otherwise in Clark County. Mosher and Stark remain with Metro while Mendiola was fired after being indicted on unrelated weapons charges,

ACLU Ask the DOJ to Reconsider Investigating Metros FOIS’

The ACLU Tries the Classic Tactic

“Pretty Please” with the DOJ

Not happy with the Department of Justice’s decision to contract with a non-profit group to examine Metro’s policies regarding the use of deadly force.

Today’s letter calls the DOJ’s decision to have CNA, a Virginia-based non-profit, conduct the a study of Metro’s policies rather than  and independent investigation of the LVMPD by the (Civil Rights Division’s) Special Litigation Section, “disheartening.”

The ACLU said delaying a proper investigation into the scores of fatal officer involved shootings this in the past decade will only “further erode public confidence,”

In January the ACLU and the local chapter of NAACP jointly requested a DOJ investigation in the wake of a Review-Journal series on police shootings and the December shooting death of Stanley Gibson, an unarmed, disabled war veteran.