Las Vegas

Las Vegas Cops Fatally Shoot Man Armed With Plastic Sword

The man refused to obey their orders. But his death was probably avoidable.

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Screenshot/Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via Las Vegas Review-Journal

Las Vegas police shot and killed a man early Saturday morning because he wouldn't drop what turned out to be a plastic sword.

Lloyd Napouk, 44, was walking down the street about a mile from his home when two officers made contact with him, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank said at a press conference yesterday. Sergeant Buford Kenton and Officer Cameran Gunn were responding to a report of a "white male adult looking into vehicles, walking onto patios, and carrying either a slim jim or a machete," Hank said. The person who made the report also thought the suspect may have been trying to break into a neighbor's house.

The officers arrived on the scene at about 12:17 a.m., Hank said. Body camera footage released by police and published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal shows what happened next:

Both officers warn Napouk to drop his weapon. "It's not worth it man," Kenton says. But Napouk, who has headphones in his ears as he smokes a cigarette, doesn't listen.

"Put it on the ground now," Gunn says. "It's all good, man. We can talk." Kenton expresses similar sentiments. "You're not in any trouble; just drop the weapon and we'll talk, OK?" he says.

Napouk refuses to obey. He raises his sword two times, and at one point walks toward the officers. The cops warn that they will shoot him if he doesn't stop, which he eventually does. "Get out of here," Napouk mumbles.

Kenton radios for backup units armed with beanbag shotguns. But the backup doesn't arrive in time. Napouk starts to slowly approach the officers again, prompting Kenton to say: "If you come one more step, you're dead." At that point, Napouk still has the headphones in his ears. It's unclear whether he can hear what the officers are saying.

In any case, Napouk doesn't obey, and the video ends with the sound of a gunshot. In total, seven shots were fired––four from Kenton and three from Gunn. Napouk was a little more than nine feet away from Kenton and almost 12 feet from Gunn when shots were fired, Hank said. Medical personnel soon arrived, and Napouk was declared dead at the scene.

Napouk's weapon was actually a plastic sword covered in electrical tape. "He called it a sword. He was very proud of it," said Hank. "He expressed…what you may characterize as some mental concerns because of how he referred to it," the assistant sheriff added, explaining that the plastic sword was "very special to him."

Hank also said Napouk had a prior "criminal history" in Alaska and Washington state. He had previously been accused of DUI, assault, "disorderly conduct, harassing communication, criminal mischief, and reckless endangerment," said Hank.

If Napouk had survived, he would have been charged with resisting arrest with a weapon, Hank said. Both officers are on paid leave while the shooting is investigated.

Regardless of Napouk's criminal history, his death was tragic and probably needless. From watching the body camera footage, it doesn't look as though he posed much of a threat to either officer. Police may not have known at the time that his weapon was really just a plastic sword, but he wasn't running toward them as if about to attack.

Napouk clearly ignored both officers' commands to drop the sword. And even after police warned him that they would shoot, he still didn't listen. However, he wasn't endangering their lives or anyone else's.

At the press conference, Hank confirmed that the officers were armed with Tasers. Stun guns, while not always reliable, can work when deployed within 15-25 feet of a target. So if both officers had tased Napouk instead of shooting him, it seems likely he would have been incapacitated.

It's important to note that an investigation will hopefully bring more information to light. The preliminary facts, though, do suggest that his death could have been avoided. Napouk may not have been cooperating with the police, but he didn't deserve to die.

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  1. I have no problem with this. people who are to stupid to listen deserve the darwin award as presented by the cops

    1. “I have no problem with women being beheaded in Saudi Arabia for not wearing a beekeeper’s outfit. They shouldn’t be so dumb.”

      1. Well, you worship government so that quote is obviously yours.

      2. Oh wow, I’m going to have to agree with Tony on this one.

        Being high and stupid isn’t a capital offence. These officers had guns, and he had a stick, they shouldn’t have felt threatened.

        This is a problem with the “Occupying Force” mentality police departments have nowadays. It’s not policing, it’s soldiering.
        If there were no other people in danger, they should of backed off, evaluated the situation, evaluated his “weapon”, and called in a negotiator to talk the guy down. Instead they shot him for disregarding their orders.

      3. Please provide link of officer being run through with an improper bee keeper outfit. Swords are slightly more dangerous than burkas.

    2. It really is unfortunate they used guns instead of tasers, since they had them. Tasers can still be lethal, but are much less likely to be so.

      Honestly though, what are they supposed to do with a guy like this?

      1. Wait until the bean bag shot gun arrives? Taz him? Keep talking without threatening? Be aware that he has mental issues and bring in someone trained to deal with that situation? Or just not kill him because he wasn’t threatening their lives?

      2. It really is unfortunate they used guns instead of tasers, since they had them. Tasers can still be lethal, but are much less likely to be so.

        Honestly though, what are they supposed to do with a guy like this?

        Guns can be employed non-lethally as well. IMO, the saddest part is that Reason has no compunction about the forcing the question from “What are police supposed to do?”, which is a legitimate and hard to answer question, to “What are police supposed to do to avoid Reason-style libertarian ire?” which has an easy solution; ignore Reason.

    3. So you think the proper response to unnecessary, probably incoherent and arguably unconstitutional orders is blind submission to authority. Got it.

      How many of the rest of your rights are you willing to sacrifice just because somebody with a badge threatens you?

  2. What happens in Vegas apparently doesn’t stay in Vegas.

    The most curious part of the story? How this guy ended up in Nevada from Alaska. I guess he didn’t like the cold?


    Hank also said Napouk had a prior “criminal history” in Alaska and Washington state. He had previously been accused of DUI, assault, “disorderly conduct, harassing communication, criminal mischief, and reckless endangerment,” said Hank.

    I don’t think it’s even legal to drive sober in Alaska.

  3. I don’t care if you can’t hear because of headphones. I don’t care if you don’t even speak English. If men in police uniforms are pointing guns at you and yelling, you don’t walk towards them and raise your plastic sword.

    Libertarianism should be worried about actual civil liberties violations, not suicide by stupidity. Replace “police” with “armed civilians” and nobody here would complain.

    1. If armed civilians had shot him under identical circumstances, they would be prosecuted.

      1. Deranged man walking directly towards you, with an apparently lethal weapon, and ignoring all warnings?

        Assuming no “duty to retreat” while possible, I doubt it.

        1. Approaching a man carrying what might or might not have been a lethal weapon, barking orders at him, then shooting him dead because he didn’t obey you? Unless you’re a cop, you’re going to prison.

    2. You are a total dip-shit….Just so you know. Ya drunk?

  4. And even after police warned him that they would shoot, he still didn’t listen.

    If I tell you that if you keep talking to me, I will punch you in the face, and you keep talking to me, and I punch you in the face, you were warned. However, that doesn’t absolve me of punching you in the face.

    Police, on the other hand, get to shoot you if you do not comply with commands (usually even without a sword-looking thing in your hand). That’s been established. The lesson here is, don’t be mentally ill around jittery police officers.

    1. You or I come across this guy on the street and nobody would fault us for leaving the area.

      But those cops were sent in to deal with him. Sent due to reports from people in the vicinity.

      Yes, it was unclear what he was doing. I think the duct tape made it even more difficult to tell what was going on. A real machete with duct tape on it is just as lethal as a plain one, you just cannot tell it from a plastic fake as easily.

      Suppose it was real? Suppose this guy uses their reticence as an opportunity to dart down the street or into a nearby doorway and start slashing people?

      That was a lose-lose situation, and one of them lost everything.

      1. This isn’t as egregious as most of these cases, but lethal force has to be the absolute last resort. Here it seemed to be the second resort.

        1. Yeah. Given that he didn’t actually attack anyone it may have been possible to wait. But that wait might have resulted in a a real attack, with real harm (from the perspective at the time.)

          Rather than two cops, imagine it’s you and your neighbor at his backyard Halloween party tonight – with some strange guy holding what appears to be a long blade and behaving very oddly.

          I wouldn’t fault you either.

          1. The situations aren’t really analogous tho, the cops sign up to risk bodily harm.

            1. Even if that is true (or any more true than anyone who ‘signs up’ for a potentially dangerous job – e.g. stop-and-rob clerks) there are limits to what is acceptable risks – much as there are limits to when use of lethal force is appropriate.

              And the point I am explicitly making is those limits should be the same for everyone – cop or no cop.

              1. And the point I am explicitly making is those limits should be the same for everyone – cop or no cop.

                The cops don’t carry guns looking for a fair fight and, in the authoritarian role, aren’t required to. It’s not the case for every shooting, but in this case, it’s not hard to imagine how non-authoritarians in the employ of the people in a more Peelian manner could resolve the issue without shooting anyone.

                1. What the Hell do ‘fair fights’ have to do with any of this?

                  Anyone can imagine most any sort of alternate outcome. Doesn’t make it possible, much less likely. All that is is a counterfactual.

                  The only real question here is: Based upon the actual circumstances were their actions reasonable and lawful.

      2. But those cops were sent in to deal with him.

        They volunteered for that job. Taking such risks is part of the job. If they push that risk off onto the public instead of assuming it themselves by shooting first, they are shirking their responsibility and should be held responsible for that. If they don’t like that deal, they need to find new careers.

        1. If we wish to impose a “gotta take one free shot before responding” rule I’m ok with that. But we really need to make it explicit.

          And also have plan to deal with: less people willing to be cops; people willing to be cops wanting much higher pay; and, people who become cops having a greater incidence of being lose screws,

          1. Well, for one thing they could start by ending their policy of disfavoring anyone with an above room temperature IQ from entering the police academy.

          2. All we need to do is make the rules for use of armed self-defense the same for cops as they are for everyone else. The rules are already explicit; they just need to be applied equally to the police.

            less people willing to be cops

            I’m down with that.

            much higher pay

            I don’t have a problem with that either.

            people who become cops having a greater incidence of being lose screws

            Giving cops special privileges to use deadly violence is already causing that problem. Limiting cops to equal rights ought to discourage “loose screws” from applying.

            1. It’s not special privileges (or at least it shouldn’t be.)

              It’s the equivalent of acknowledging that, whether it’s you (or Fist) in your neighbor’s backyard dealing with this guy, or cops sent to a public street to deal with this guy, you both should be held to the same standards because you are both in a place where you ought to be.

              Otherwise the proper approach is not to have different standards, but to stop sending cops to deal with these sorts of situations.

  5. Cops promptly charged with murder and imprisoned to protect anyone else from their murdering impulses, right?

  6. I can’t blame the cops in this instance. They acted with considerable restraint.

    1. Good Lord. I don’t think you grasp the concept of restraint.

  7. Nope. If all police shooting showed this level of restraint and gave that much warning, police shooting would be uncontroversial.

    It sucks for the mentally disturbed dude with a plastic sword, but this is ultimately on him. Not the cops. We need to be able to draw distinctions between this episode and the one where they shot the guy who was sitting down in the street.

    1. Nope. If all police shooting showed this level of restraint and gave that much warning, police shooting would be uncontroversial.

      I’m split. The tactics were terrible. At 12 ft., with a sword, the handgun isn’t a guaranteed win. The fact that they started out with guns drawn and that the suspect/victim seems to have walked within striking distance isn’t exceedingly good from a procedural level.

      There does need to be a more effective discussion or conceptualization about whether officers are supposed to be keeping the peace or preventing the loss of life because, in this instance, they and they alone clearly failed at both.

  8. “…it doesn’t look as though he posed much of a threat to either officer. Police may not have known at the time that his weapon was really just a plastic sword, but he wasn’t running toward them as if about to attack.”

    Now that’s a real shit sandwich of a paragraph.

    Nine feet of distance can be closed in less time than it takes to squeeze the trigger of a Glock. Not knowing it wasn’t a real weapon makes him a real threat.

    That he was ignoring their direction didn’t help things either. Hell, if anyone appears to be speaking to me I’ll remove at least one headphone.

    1. Nine feet of distance can be closed in less time than it takes to squeeze the trigger of a Glock. Not knowing it wasn’t a real weapon makes him a real threat.

      But it’s not like the officers were just on patrol and found themselves confronted by the subject. They decided to put themselves into the situation at the place of their choosing and initiated with lethal force. There are roles and situations where this, obviously, might make sense, but if any part of your mission is to serve and to protect, marching right up to the edge guns blazing isn’t the way to go.

      1. ” They decided to put themselves into the situation at the place of their choosing and initiated with lethal force.”

        No, they were sent there by dispatch based upon reports from citizens. They encountered a man in the vicinity who matched the description.

        If you call what they did when dealing with this guy “marching right up to the edge guns blazing” then there really isn’t anything that can be said to change your view.

        1. If you call what they did when dealing with this guy “marching right up to the edge guns blazing” then there really isn’t anything that can be said to change your view.

          Watch the video. No ones life was under reasonable threat until the police showed up. Dispatch didn’t beam them there, they drove up, parked both cars on the same side of the suspect and gave him every chance to walk on down the street, duck in a alley or whatever. They had plenty of time to deploy non-lethal means and chose not to. Even when deploying lethal force, they did so excessively. 7 bullets from 2 guns were fired at a man who was not apparently an immediate threat until the cops showed up.

          I don’t know that these officers should be fired, but they certainly could’ve handled the situation better and if you/they don’t like armchair quarterbacks second guessing, too bad, that’s the job.


          1. No ones life was under reasonable threat until the police showed up.

            I’m not necessarily trying to defend the police, but it would appear enough citizens felt threatened to actually call the cops to deal with the guy. Thus it seems at least some people who were actually in the situation felt like it was a reasonable threat.

            1. I’m not necessarily trying to defend the police, but it would appear enough citizens felt threatened to actually call the cops to deal with the guy. Thus it seems at least some people who were actually in the situation felt like it was a reasonable threat.

              They felt his presences on their street as threatening. It’s not like he was knocking on someone’s door, calling them by name, promising to cut their head off. Merely carrying a tool/weapon in public isn’t an intrinsic threat. Ask anyone, antifah, oath keepers, etc….

          2. I don’t disagree that they could have handled it better. Maybe.

            But they did try to de-escalate. They did try to maintain a safe distance. He kept closing the distance and acting… well, weird. He made a couple of odd gestures that weren’t exactly “I’m about to chop you into little pieces” but they also weren’t “hey, I’m not a threat to anyone”.

            I don’t know if he was stoned or what, but his actions were not rational.

            The police showed up for a legitimate investigation. They found someone apparently holding a large weapon. At that point they attempted to initiate contact and evaluate the situation. But the guy doesn’t respond. And pretty soon he gets belligerent in a weird sort of way, all while never communicating.

            At that point what do you do?

            You can’t just walk away. “Oh, well… that crazy looking dude with a machete never directly threatened anyone, so let’s just leave”.

            You can’t “talk him down”.. because he’s not talking and he keeps walking toward the armed dudes who are pointing guns at him.

            I could second guess a couple of scenarios for them, like hopping back in their vehicles until further backup arrived with the “less lethal” weapons. But that’s a tough sell. Particularly if they have any pedestrians about.

            I dunno. This one isn’t a slam-dunk. Better men might have avoided shooting…. but they also might have gotten hacked deeply by a machete while trying to do so, given an indistinguishable set of facts.

    2. re: “Nine feet of distance can be closed in less time than it takes to squeeze the trigger”…

      The world record for the 100 meter dash is 9.69 seconds. In other words, once Usain Bolt was up to speed, he could cover 9 feet in 0.27 seconds. But even he was probably a little slower in those first 9 feet. On the other hand, human reaction time to visual stimuli (such as observing someone’s movement) averages 0.19 seconds according to most published reports. And that’s before you consider the physiology (and delay) between the movements required to swing a sword vs pulling a trigger of an already drawn and aimed weapon.

      So, no, not even Usain Bolt could have covered that gap before the police had time to fire.

      1. Assuming they already have weapons drawn, and aimed at the guy, and that their reaction time to whatever movement he made was two tenths of a second.

        Ever consider that is exactly what happened?

        Because, you hesitate much longer and yes he is easily within striking distance.

        My older son does HEMA – both single stick and broadsword with targe. It’s really eye opening to see how fast it can happen.

        1. Unfortunately, they sign up to take the chance. I expect my cops to risk and sometimes endure actual harm, because that is why I employ them. If they think the risk is too great, I won’t fault them for quitting.

          1. ^ This.

          2. Ditto.

      2. In other words, once Usain Bolt was up to speed, he could cover 9 feet in 0.27 seconds.

        Takes him 1.85 seconds to cover the first 10 meters.

        1. Devolving into absolute absurdity, fencers routinely cover 6-10 ft. faster than their opponent, at the ready, can react.

      3. So, no, not even Usain Bolt could have covered that gap before the police had time to fire.

        That’s 9 feet toe-to-toe. Arm and sword takes off 3-4 feet for a short arm and a short sword, so he’s got to travel half the distance you indicated. Further, without getting too much into a caliber pissing match; for pretty much any handgun caliber, the one-shot-stop percentage is below 50% and the rounds-to-incapacitation is above 1, for the 9mm (again not meant to get into a caliber pissing match) it’s above 2. Moreover, the presumption is that the optimal solution is one where we maximize the number of people walking away from the situation rather than one where both the suspect and the officer die.

        1. Which also explains the number of shots – you only shoot when you think the threat real, and once you start you shoot until the guy goes down.

          1. and once you start you shoot until the guy goes down.

            This is a hallmark tactic of a superior force. Inferior and benevolent forces, at the very least, tend not to waste ammo.

            The proper answer is to stay >20 ft. away from the guy and shoot him in the extremities. Double-taps and 2-1s are for when you find yourself in a war zone in Mozambique.

            1. “shoot him in the extremities”

              Really bad idea for anyone.

              I’m alright with a low pelvis shot. But if you are going to shoot it really should be someplace that you can reliably hit and will reliably end the fight.

              Aiming for the small fast moving parts of the body is nuts.

              1. Really bad idea for anyone.

                Better than 7 to the head and upper torso.

                See my cite above. The officer in Utah shot the woman in the upper thigh (IIRC) and procedure called for ‘extremities’ (and, of course, Reason *still* found that to be unacceptable).

                If you’re wearing headphones and someone shoots at you, misses, and you advance, no further communication is necessary.

        2. You’re double-counting the arm+weapon distance, mad.casual. According to the article above, he was 12 feet away. The original comment about covering only 9 feet already assumes the weapon length.

          re: the one-shot-stop percentage, you are of course correct. The legend of the adoption of the .45 as a result of the war against the Moros in the Phillipines is a prime example. However, that scenario is rather distant from the one described above. Despite their self-image, the police are not in a war against the people they supposedly swore to protect.

          re: your comment below about “shoot him in the extremities” – no. Just no. No military nor any police force says “shoot to wound”. It is impractical and dangerous. Arms and legs are small and rapidly moving targets. They are hard to hit and when you miss, those rounds continue on to endanger everyone in the area. I strongly believe that police pull and fire their weapons far more often than they should. But when the situation justifies lethal force, always, always, always aim for center-mass.

    3. and so why not use a taser then?

  9. This one isn’t so clear as the writer would like to suggest.

    “not running around swinging at people” isn’t the proper standard. If you go to the police equivalent of “watch the police” or PNAC you’ll see the videos they are watching. There’s plenty of videos of people seemingly being cooperative who suddenly pull guns and start shooting, or holding a weapon at their side insisting that they are cooperating who really quickly start attacking. That’s the other side of the equation… not “he’s just a disturbed dude who has a plastic toy and isn’t bothering anyone”.

    They didn’t make many of the classic errors you see in these videos. Nobody aggressively closes the distance, forcing a “him or me” shot. They don’t shout random incomprehensible commands that are impossible to follow. They try to maintain a safe distance and he seems to be enjoying the power of being able to make them retreat.

    If they knew it was a toy they could have moved to tasers and batons… so clearly they didn’t have much suspicion that it was just a toy.

    It is a bad situation because dude wasn’t hurting anyone. But once it became “I think you have a machete and are threatening”, it is incumbent upon him to show that he is not a threat.

    1. They try to maintain a safe distance and he seems to be enjoying the power of being able to make them retreat.

      If they knew it was a toy they could have moved to tasers and batons… so clearly they didn’t have much suspicion that it was just a toy.

      This is where I disagree or where the disconnect happens, IMO. They have the upper hand and the ability to deploy non-lethal force and fail to do so.

      Should they lose their jobs? Maybe not. Should we expect more of them? Abso-fucking-lutely.

      1. Which “less lethal” means would you use in that situation?

        It pretty much is exactly the scenario where police told us they needed a taser back in the 80’s when the debate was being had. But department protocols never call for a taser when a lethal weapon (like a knife) is being held.

        Taser would be really risky facing off one-on-one with that knife. Like “life threatening” risky.

        But 2-on-one… they could have pressed their advantage to attack with taser from the rear, having both officers wielding tasers at the same time.

        But that would require them to break my rule… which was to avoid advancing and forcing a confrontation. Waiting would have been best, but he kind of removed that choice….. although I think he could have continued retreating around the car basically indefinitely, given that there were two officers available to cover all angles.

        So yeah,…. not great… but not horrible.

        Police don’t seem to be trained to retreat unless they are actually being shot at. That these guys even put a couple of minutes into a strategic retreat was laudable, in my opinion.

        1. In this situation the taser either works as intended, or becomes an escalation. And if an escalation it also leaves you having to spend more time transitioning to another weapon.

          Pepper spray seems the better non-lethal option here.

        2. Police don’t seem to be trained to retreat unless they are actually being shot at. That these guys even put a couple of minutes into a strategic retreat was laudable, in my opinion.

          As I indicate above, IMO, the hallmark is fire control. 2 guns, 7 rounds on a single target at relatively close range is more “eliminating the threat by any means necessary” than it is “keeping the peace” (or “serving and protecting”).

          With 2-on-1 there’s no reason why one can’t employ less-lethal options and another can’t employ more.

  10. Isn’t it funny (in a morbid kind of way) that police departments can somehow get body camera footage to the press within a day or two in instances like this, but how in so many other instances it takes days/months/court orders/etc. to get them to? funny how that works.

    1. I’d be interested to know if it was the LVRJ that turned the 4 min. incident into a 2 min. video or the police. But I’m fairly certain that this will be standard practice going forward and the media will continue to be aloof as to why people hate them.

  11. Thank you arm chair police offices. You are the reason that middle America hates Libertarians.

  12. The subject was, by your own admission, within 12 feet of the officer with what appeared to be a long bladed weapon.
    Do you know how quickly one can cover 12 feet?
    Do you know how quickly accuracy with a gun goes out the window when an Officer is backing up to put distance between his/her self and a charging attacker?
    Didn’t deserve to die? by what metric do you measure that?
    Are you also implying that the LEO doesn’t deserve to protect himself?

  13. Yup, Reason’s gone progressive left. Instead of listening to ignorant twat waffles with journalist degrees who know nothing about constitutional law, use of force, and the science behind the use of force, you might want to do a little research. Force Science is a good site and then look up US Supreme Court decisions which state you can’t Monday morning quarterback decisions of police which are made in the moment in real time. Also, if you get the chance go to a “shoot – don’t shoot” training seminar. Civilians and politicians taking the course often are reduced to tears at the stress involved (and there is no danger to them). Hey, maybe Setyon can get a lefty ride along program going and when police come across someone with an edged weapon they can take him on with discussion, tasers, and his MMA skills and once disarmed the police can then step in. I’m sure the guy just needed a good hug.

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