Erik Scott, a former army officer and Duke MBA, was shot to death by cops at a Costco on July 10, 2010 while shopping with his girlfriend. Scott was legally carrying a concealed firearm, but this was apparently against Costco policy. The family is suing Costco because they say no “no guns” policy was articulated in any signage in the store or when Erik signed up for a Costco membership, and because according to the family the 911 call placed by Costco’s Loss Prevention Officer, Shai Lierley was inaccurate and led to Scott’s death.
A Las Vegas Sun article reporting on the results of the initial coroner’s inquest (it found the shooting justified, as such inquests usually do) stated that “[p]olice confronted Scott… as he exited the store with other patrons who were being evacuated.” Read that again. The store was apparently being evacuated because of a man with a gun, yet that man was among the patrons being evacuated.
The family initially sued the police department, but surveillance video from the store was missing footage from the time of the incident and the family dropped the federal lawsuit. Police claimed Scott pointed his gun at them, but the gun he was legally carrying was found in his holster. A second, unregistered gun, a semi-automatic Ruger, was photographed at the scene and apparently found on his clothing on the way to hospital; its provenance is hard to gather. Though cops point out carrying that gun is a felony, it wasn’t the gun Costco employees noticed or the ones cops ordered him to drop on the ground while putting his hands up. Details of the lawsuit's allegations, from the Las Vegas Sun:
The suit alleges that when Lierley talked to a police dispatcher, he mischaracterized Scott’s conduct, Scott’s intentions with his firearm and falsely accused Scott of being under the influence of illegal narcotics. Lierley testified during the inquest…
Callister said transcripts of the 911 call show that Lierley stayed on the phone with the 911 dispatcher for six or seven minutes. Callister alleged that Lierley, through his statements, led police who arrived at the scene to believe that the situation was escalating.
The suit filed Friday also said that Costco breached its general duty of care to Scott by failing to follow company protocol in allowing a non-management employee to contact Metro about the situation.
The lawsuit also says that Lierley and Costco’s actions “created the situation which resulted in Erik Scott losing his life.”
Incidentally, one of the three cops cleared of the shooting of Erik Scott was relieved of duty (without pay) last year after being indicted for “disposing a firearm to a prohibited person.” He allegedly gave a felon a Ruger handgun as a gift for working on his car in the summer of 2010. He accepted a plea deal last month that knocked the charge down to a misdemeanor. He's no longer a cop.
Aaron Mathis wrote on Erik Scott’s death last week .