DOJ Update: Las Vegas PD Making Progress, Police Shootings in Las Vegas Down to .86 Per Month

metroinventorchris/foter.comLas Vegas police fatally shot 12 people in 2011, a record, leading the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to volunteer to undergo a review by the Department of Justice. That review (pdf) noted many problems with the department’s practice of use of force, blaming poor training, cumbersome policies, and tactical errors for the high number of officer involved shootings in the area. The Department of Justice made 75 recommendations last November, including reform of the use of force review board, new “tactical practices,” the use of body cameras, and clearer and simpler policies, reporting that the police department had already begun to address nearly half the DOJ’s “calls for action” before the report was released.

According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, a six-month update by the Department of Justice’s COPS office found that the monthly rate of officer involved shootings had fallen from 1.46 for the period between 2007 and 2010, when the police department established a “Critical Incident Review Team” to study police shootings, to .86 per month since last year’s review. The Review Journal reports:

The Use of Force Review Board, a seven-member panel of four officers and three civilians that reviews police shootings, was once considered a rubber-stamp process that “justified” 99 percent of police shootings.

But in the nine shootings reviewed since the changes, the board has ruled against an officer in some fashion one third of the time, the study found.

The department changed the classifications to “administrative approval” and “administrative disapproval” and started scrutinizing officer tactics, decisions and training. A separate Tactical Review Board, held immediately after the Use of Force Review Board, also examines the decisions of every officer on the call, not just those who used deadly force.

The changes were aimed at examining the totality of the officer’s actions rather than simply issuing a blanket approval or rare disapproval. Before the board changes,  no officer in an on-duty shooting was ever recommended for firing.

Since the changes, there have been two: Jacquar Roston, who shot and wounded an unarmed man after mistaking a label on his hat for a gun, and Jesus Arevalo, who shot and killed mentally ill Gulf War veteran Stanley Gibson in December 2011.

In addition to Roston and Arevalo, four other officers in shootings were assigned remedial training. The supervisors on scene for the Gibson shooting, Sgt. Michael Hnatuick and Lt. David Dockendorf, were also disciplined. Hnatuick was recommended for suspension and Dockendorf was to be demoted two ranks to officer, although their punishment can be appealed in arbitration.

The Justice Department says Las Vegas police have yet to implement nine recommendations, including training officers in “de-escalation techniques” and having a special team of detectives to investigate shootings. The police department briefly had such a team but according to the DOJ those detectives didn’t receive special training in police shootings.

The Department of Justice has and is reviewing a number of city’s police departments, including Miami, New Orleans, and Albuquerque. Most recently it declined the city of Austin’s request to review the police department there, finding “no reasonable cause to believe that APD has engaged in a pattern, or practice that violated the Constitution or laws of the United States,” the standard by which it initiates review. There were already six police shootings in Austin when the city requested a DOJ review in August, with three being fatal.

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  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Fuck tha police.

  • Spoonman.||

    Jacquar Roston, who shot and wounded an unarmed man after mistaking a label on his hat for a gun

    If a man hadn't died as a result this would be hilarious.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    It seems to say, right there, he didn't die.

  • Jordan||

    Well then it's hilarious. Still fucked up though.

  • SomeGuy||

    i missed that lol....what kinda of excuse if that shit? I thought i say a gun on his head? Is he a walking tank?

    I wonder how many dogs were shot too. I bet they don't report those issues.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    "But in the nine shootings reviewed since the changes, the board has ruled against an officer in some fashion one third of the time, the study found."

    "The rulings were then overturned upon further review by collective bargaining representatives"

  • SIV||

    More police shootings would be a good thing if they were shooting armed violent felons.

  • Libertymike||

    Which means, necessarily, that more police shootings would be a god thing if they were shooting at each other.

  • ||

    What?! Fuck that. Those people shoot back.

  • Mainer2||

    Remember there is no double standard:

    Felony hit-and-run charges against fired Manchester officer reduced to misdemeanors

    http://www.unionleader.com/art...../FRONTPAGE

  • Hugh Akston||

    Well, to be fair, if a civilian hit a cop and drove off, he'd never go to jail either.

    Also you Nutrasweet'd the link.

  • Paul.||

    It's entirely possible that 99% of the police shootings are relatively justified. The problem is, even if only 1% of police shootings are tantamount to murder, that's a LOT of people being killed by cops (if you extrapolate that nationally) unnecessarily. The other question I'd have is, before the DOJ review, regardless of HOW MANY police shootings there were, what percentage were found unjustified, and what were the consequences? According to the article, post-changes, 33 percent of shootings are dodgy. WTF? Administrative "disapproval". If I shoot someone erroneously, do I get an administrative disapproval?

    For instance, if I shoot someone, and the cops don't find any evidence of murder and think it's self defence, they let me go. But six months later, if new evidence arises, I'll be arrested and put on trial.

    If the DOJ has found questionable shootings, where are the trials, where are the firings, where are the consequences? Or when a cop does it, is it just water under the bridge?

  • Libertymike||

    Paul, it is manifestly not possible that 99% of police shootings are relatively justified.

    That would only apply in what Thornton Melon refers to as fantasyland.

  • ||

    "relatively justified"

    I spell that differently;

    M-U-R-D-E-R.

  • Paul.||

    Meh. I believe the Zimmerman shooting of Trayvon Martin was 'relatively justified'. I apologize for the term, and maybe it's not a good term.

    The Zimmerman shooting was, in my opinion, given the data and evidence at hand, justified enough to not justify a conviction or even a trial. Should the shooting have happened? I think had Zimmerman just stayed in the house when the 911 operator told him to, Zimmerman would just be hispanic, instead of white.

  • ||

    The Martin shooting was justified. Nothing relative about it. Zimmerman feared for his life, reasonably so, and defended himself. That is justified.

    I dont think many cop shootings meet that standard.

    Two cop shootings in my area;

    1. Distraught man threatens family with pistol. Shoots dog in the kitchen. Family runs out of house. There is a stand off with the sheriff's dept, during which deputies talk to man on the phone and fail to talk him into surrendering. The man's friend is then enlisted by the dept to call him and talk him down. That fails. His wife is then enlisted to talk him down on the phone. That fails.

    Man exits house and fires two shots two shots at deputies. Man is shot.

    Justified.

    2. Drug dealer, after multiple arrests and being surveilled for long periods of time buys an AK, lots of ammo and sets up an ambush. At this point he is wanted by cops. He puts a heavy cast iron bathtub in front door of an abandoned house. Calls cops and pretends to be a concerned citizen who sighted him, gives location.

  • ||

    City police officer arrives to check out the call. While still in his patrol car the dealer opens up on him and fills his car with bullets. Miraculously, cop manages to drive away unscathed.

    Numerous cops arrive and surround the house. In the shootout 4 cops are shot and killed. Dealer finally exits house in a running assault on the cop's position and is shot dead ( incidentally, with a shotgun using #4 buck ).

    Justified shooting.

  • ||

    3. woman in mall is suspected of shoplifting. Her small child took a cloth shopping bag on a rack by the entrance, thinking it was free. It wasnt.

    Cop approaches her in parking lot while she is still in the parking space with three small children in the car. She claims she did not see cop and begins backing out of space.

    Cops claims she was trying to run him over and fills car up with .40 cal bullets. Woman is hit in the back 3x, but children are not hit at all. Woman barely survives.

    Justified my ass. This was attempted murder.

    4. Cops called about suspicious man prowling neighborhood at night. Man was actually just walking down the street. Cop arrives and man flees. Cop chases on foot and corners him in back yard of a house. Claims thought man had a gun. Shoots him dead.

    Turns out man was unarmed.

    Not justified, murder straight up.

  • ||

    It would be interesting to survey all these shootings and see how many are clear cut justified and how many are bullshit claims of " I thought the tag on his hat was a bazooka".

  • juris imprudent||

    Sure, but what is their dog count?

  • ||

    Jacquar Roston, who shot and wounded an unarmed man after mistaking a label on his hat for a gun

    Lolwut?

    So the officer though that this guy was, what, pretending to be a unicorn and had mounted the gun to his head? I mean, seriously, can you envision any situation in which "I thought the label on his hat was a gun" is even within spitting distance of a reasonable explanation? He should have just said he went for his waistband or something...

  • verlighsoncno1975||

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