It was Rathergate in 2004 that made possible what I’m doing in writing the Scott series. In 2004, just before the presidential election between George W. Bush and John Kerry, CBS anchorman Dan Rather went on the air claiming the discovery of documents proving that Mr. Bush somehow served dishonorably as a F-102 pilot in the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam Era. Within days, bloggers and independent experts proved conclusively that the documents were contemporary forgeries. The popular Powerline Blog took the lead in serving as a clearinghouse for information, and Rather’s producer Mary Mapes was soon fired. Rather left CBS after a decent interval, and a crude attempt to change the outcome of a presidential election—an attempt that might have worked in the past—was quickly and incontrovertibly exposed.
The Rathergate—AKA “Memogate”—affair established the Internet as a legitimate source of news and commentary and also made clear that never again would the Legacy Media be free of criticism of their overwhelmingly leftward bias. Bloggers had arrived.
I broke the story of Steve Grodin of the Clark County Public Administrator’s Office and his assistance of Metro in carrying out an illegal search and seizure of Scott’s home after his death nearly four months earlier than any media outlet. Even so, the local station’s account—like virtually all media coverage of the Scott Case, was severely lacking in the kind of investigative journalism upon which Americans depend. There was no mention whatever of any potential reason for the search, unlike a compelling reason I outlined in Update 7.
02-26-11: The Las Vegas Media Wakes Up?
Since I began following the Erik Scott case, I’ve been surprised at how little the local Las Vegas media covered the shooting of Erik Scott, and on those few occasions when they did cover it, how shallow that coverage was.
But on 02-24, the local media, My News 3 (NBC Affiliate), “broke” a “new” story about the involvement of the Clark County Public Administrator’s Office. Regular readers may recall that I first covered that story, and in much greater detail, on October 14, 2010 in Update 6 (take the Grodin link above). While the local reporters did actually ask several questions of the right people, they failed to research the applicable Nevada statutes to discover that the PA’s office has no authority to enter or secure a property where a “joint tenant” still exists. That tenant was, of course, Samantha Sterner who lived at Scott’s condo with Scott, whose property was there, who had a key, and who refused the police and PA’s office entry. With the help of a locksmith, they entered anyway.
At least one portion of the local media appears to have a small amount of interest. One step at a time…
In this Update, I continued the process of informing readers of the continuing bizarre and dangerously deadly behavior of Metro. I also provided additional information on the continuing efforts of the Metro police union to threaten, browbeat, and throw sufficient tantrums to prevent their oh-so-sensitive officers from actually having to testify about their actions—or even what they might have witnessed other officers doing—in the killing of citizens.
As always, those interested in reading the comments that accompanied each original article should visit the Confederate Yankee Erik Scott Archive.
03-27-11: The Erik Scott Case, Update 10.2: Similarities and Continuing Mutiny
This update will deal with four issues:
(1) An alleged beating of a citizen by a Metro officer. This incident is not directly related to the Scott case, but has a great many disturbingly similar, familiar elements.
(2) The realities of police recruitment and training.
(3) An update on the taser death of Anthony Jones.
(4) The continuing mutiny against the public and justice system by Metro police.
The civil case filed by the Scott family proceeds at the usual glacial pace of such things. There is, at the moment, no known news as the usual motions, counter motions, and courtroom and paper jousting take place. That there is nothing new to report at this point is neither significant nor insignificant. It is simply the way such things are done and is to be expected.
As has been my practice in analyzing the Scott–and related–cases, I offer a disclaimer: Most of what appears in these pages is the product of my research–using sources available to the public–and my analysis which is the product of my many years of experience. Therefore, I may be incorrect in ways small and large, and may be unaware of errors for some time. I fully expect that a great deal more will be known when the Scott civil trial begins, and I will, of course, report on that information. But for the time being, I rely on my background and knowledge, and the assistance of readers–including residents of Las Vegas–who might have information that could be helpful. Any factual errors appearing here are inadvertent and will be immediately corrected when better information becomes available. Any opinions expressed, if found to be in error, will likewise be corrected when better information becomes available.
Here are pertinent sources for those who wish to read them:
For the complete Nevada Revised Statutes relating to trespassing, go here.
For the Las Vegas Review Journal story about an alleged police beating, go here.
For my Pajamas Media article on police hiring practices and the Obama Department of Justice, go here.
For the Las Vegas Metro Hiring Process, go here.
For the Las Vegas Review Journal update of the Jones taser death, go here.
THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE BEATEN CAMERAMAN:
On Sunday, March 20, 2011 at about 2030, Mitchell Crooks heard police helicopters above his Las Vegas home. Police were answering a nearby burglary call, and noticing several handcuffed suspects on the curb across the street, he walked into his driveway with his new $3500 digital video camera and shot some footage. Not much was happening:
“It seemed totally routine,” Crooks said. “I mean, I didn’t even care. I wasn’t there to record the police.” About an hour later, Crooks noticed Metro officer Derek Collings with several handcuffed suspects in his car, driving in a circle in Crooks’ cul-de-sac. Crooks thought the officer was leaving the area, but he spotlighted Crooks, stopped his car and approached Crooks. At this point, two distinct stories emerge.
CROOKS’ VERSION: Crooks said that Colling “charged” him, shouting “Turn the camera off, turn the camera off! Do you live here?”
Crooks replied: “No. No, I’m just observing.” Crooks said that when he said “no,” he was replying to Colling’s command to turn off his camera. “I was never trying to say, ‘No, I don’t live here,’ ” Crooks said later. “That’s ridiculous. My license with my address on it was in my pocket. I wasn’t just going to put my camera down because I know my rights.”
Crooks said that within seconds of leaving his (Colling’s) patrol car, Colling knocked the camera from his hands and kicked it into the brush. Crooks tried to get his camera, but Colling punched and kicked him at least 50 times. After being handcuffed, Crooks screamed for help. “He hit me at least a dozen more times in the face to get me to stop screaming,” he said. At least one neighbor did hear someone shouting “Somebody help me,” but did not see the incident.
A police sergeant arrived sometime later and crime scene investigators photographed Crooks’ injuries, however apparently none of the police reports mentioned any injuries, despite the fact that paramedics did respond. “They wiped the blood off my face, but that’s about it,” he said.
The police apparently seized Crook’s camera. Crooks watched Colling try to remove the tape. “I have no idea if it’s working, or what it recorded, or where the tape is,” Crooks said. “It may have recorded the beating.”
Crooks was charged with obstructing a public officer and battery on a protected person, for allegedly placing his hands on Colling’s shoulders.
COLLING’S VERSION: Colling’s report, described as “brief,” asked Crooks, in a “very conversational tone, ‘Hey man, what are you doing?’”
Crooks is alleged to have responded that he was filming the officers.
Colling asked Crooks if he lived there and Crooks answered “no.”
From Colling’s report: “Due to the fact that he was standing on private property and stated that he did not live there, I had a reasonable belief that he was trespassing.” Collings wrote that he asked Crooks “numerous” times to turn off the camera, but Crooks would not.
The LVRJ account continues: “Colling wrote that Crooks started to back away, and that he grabbed Crooks by the shoulders to prevent him from fleeing. A struggle ensued, during which Colling said Crooks grabbed him by the shoulders ‘and attempted to take me to the ground. I in turn took him to the ground.’”
PERTINENT INFORMATION: Crooks has been involved in a previous incident of filming police officers of some note. In 2002 he filmed a police beating of a 16-year old boy in Inglewood, CA. When he refused to turn his tape over to prosecutors, he was arrested a week later on “old warrants” for drunk driving and petty theft unrelated to the filming. Authorities obtained his tape and Crooks was jailed in 2002 and released in 2003 and “has not been in trouble since.”
Officer Colling, who has been working at Metro for about 5.5 years, has shot and killed two citizens during that time. One incident was a 2006 shooting, with four other officers, of a man who pulled a gun at a gas station. The second, in 2009 occurred when Colling shot an upset, 15-year-old mentally ill boy in the head as he was holding a knife in front of his mother and was “waving it in the direction of other officers.”
There are initially two things to keep in mind: Absent a specific statute, it is perfectly legal to video and audiotape the police as they go about their public, taxpayer paid business. As long as the person filming is not obstructing the officers, or endangering them or others, officers may not prevent such filming, nor may they seize cameras, film, tape or similar items. Case law is quite clear on this matter across the nation. Officers working in their official capacity in view of the public have no reasonable expectation of privacy. Indeed, professional, honest officers have absolutely nothing to fear and much to gain from such videotaping which should reveal reasonable, professional officers doing exactly what they are hired to do.
In Nevada, there is no statute preventing citizen filming of police. Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel for the ACLU of Nevada said:
“The police should know, and my assumption is most of them do, is that there’s nothing illegal about filming their activities in public. Just as people who are on the street can be filmed by police — and often are — the reverse is also true.”
Statutes regarding trespassing are remarkably similar across the nation, balancing property rights with freedom of movement. Nevada’s statute follows:
NRS 207.200: Unlawful trespass upon land; warning against trespassing.
1. Unless a greater penalty is provided pursuant to NRS 200.603, any person who, under circumstances not amounting to a burglary:
(a) Goes upon the land or into any building of another with intent to vex or annoy the owner or occupant thereof, or to commit any unlawful act; or
(b) Willfully goes or remains upon any land or in any building after having been warned by the owner or occupant thereof not to trespass…
Those wishing to review the entire section should take the link at the beginning of this update, but will find that what I’ve omitted is primarily legal definitions of the statutory language.
What is important in this case is to understand that the police may not arrest anyone for trespassing unless they have probable cause to believe that the person to be arrested was present where they had no right to be present, and had the intent to “vex or annoy the owner or occupant thereof, or to commit any unlawful act, or after being notified they weren’t welcome, knowingly trespassed anyway. Being notified can be done through signs, or simply by the owner telling someone they aren’t welcome.
There are compelling reasons to believe Crooks’ rather than Colling’s version of the incident:
(1) Transportation of Prisoners: Officers transporting prisoners are universally required to attend only to that immediate duty and all it involves, and must ignore all else except the most dire emergencies. All of their attention must be focused on their prisoners. This is so due to safety issues and to protect the police from false claims of sexual assault or other abuse. Handcuffs are considered only temporary restraining devices, and police lore is full of true stories of officers and others severely injured, even killed, by “handcuffed” suspects. Hardened criminals practice escaping from handcuffs and often carry keys, picks and similar devices. Cases of handcuffed suspects escaping from police vehicles are likewise legion. When officers are transporting more than one suspect, the danger is significantly greater.
To avoid these problems, and false charges, officers are required to call in the exact time and mileage (from their vehicle odometer) when they begin a transport, and the exact time and mileage when the transport ends at the jail or other facility. An officer accused of rape thereby has a defense in his recorded five minute, two mile drive to the jail. Smart officers include such information in their reports.
The point is it is virtually unheard of–in professional, non-corrupt agencies–for an officer to stop, mid-transport, for any reason. To confront someone with a videocamera–and all parties agree that is what occurred in this case–would cause any competent police supervisor to inquire of the officer whether he had lost his mind, and would result in a significant attitude readjustment session.
(2) Trespass: Colling said that when Crooks said “no,” he had a “…reasonable belief that he was trespassing.” Such a report should have resulted, at the very least in a supervisor questioning Crooks, and likely, taking large chunks out of his posterior. There is, under the law, no such thing as a “reasonable belief.” There is “reasonable suspicion,” which allows an officer to briefly detain and question someone to determine if they are involved in criminal activity, and there is “probable cause,” which allows an officer to make an arrest because he is aware of facts and circumstances which would cause any reasonable police officer to believe that a specific crime had been committed and that a specific person committed it, but there is no such thing as “reasonable belief.”
This is not a matter of overly picky semantics. Precision in legal language is vital in law enforcement, and every competent officer knows and understands the difference between “reasonable suspicion” and “probable cause” and always uses the terms correctly. That Collings did not might serve to indicate that he knew that he did not have sufficient reasonable suspicion to approach Crooks, and surely did not have probable cause to arrest him.
Even if Crooks did not live on the property where Collings thought him guilty of trespass, absent clearly posted signs or evidence of verbal warnings, merely being there is not trespassing. Most citizens have no difficulty with friends, relatives, or even strangers who walk onto their property for any one of a hundred legitimate purposes, and would think nothing of someone standing on their driveway to watch an interesting or unusual neighborhood occurrence. For Crooks to be arrested, he must have violated the specific language of the trespass statute, and Colling’s report reveals that he did not ask the minimum questions necessary to determine if Crooks had violated those elements of the offense.
In short, when Colling grabbed Crooks to arrest him for trespass, he was making a false arrest, an arrest without lawful authority. It is a well-established fact of the law that any citizen may lawfully resist a false arrest. I would not, however, recommend that in general, and certainly not in Las Vegas. There is some question about whether Crooks actually assaulted Colling, whose report suggested only that Crooks put his hands on Colling’s shoulders. There is no question, from Crook’s account, and from Colling’s report, that Crooks was not in any way obstructing Colling, who actually spotlighted Crooks, stopped and exited his vehicle, ignoring several handcuffed suspects in his vehicle, to approach Crooks who was standing in his own driveway, operating a videocamera.
(3) Injuries: Despite crime scene investigators being called–apparently at the direction of the on-site supervisor–there was no mention in police reports of Crook’s injuries, but there is reason to believe, including his visible injuries a week after the incident, and what was apparently his blood on his driveway, that Crooks was injured.
In most agencies, crime scene investigators may be called out only by a supervisor of Sgt. rank or higher. This is so to prevent unnecessary, costly call-outs of specialists who might be more desperately and legitimately needed elsewhere. That they were called out indicates clearly that the on-scene supervisor believed that there was evidence to be gathered and recorded. This too comports with Crooks’ account, but not with Colling’s.
In any police report, absolute accuracy is essential, particularly where a suspect is accused of attacking an officer or resisting arrest. Officers are, in competent, professional agencies, required to document, in minute detail, any and all force used against a citizen to protect against false accusations and to provide necessary evidence. In an incident like this where force was clearly used to make an arrest, the lack of any detailed mention of that force, particularly where crime scene investigators were involved, reveals an incredible lack of competence and adherence to proper procedure that should have been dealt with by the officer’s supervisor and higher ranking officers as required. Omitting specific documentation of the use of force and any mention of Crooks’ injuries seems to indicate that Colling knew he was wrong and was trying to cover his actions. The alternative is that he is, and his supervisors are, so incompetent as to ignore one of the most basic procedures and responsibilities of all competent officers.
It will be interesting to see whether any of the photos of Crooks’ injuries survive and what, if anything the reports of the crime scene investigators say. It will be likewise interesting to see what, if any, mention of Crooks’ injuries is contained in the run report of the paramedics that treated Crooks on the scene. They too are required to fully document injuries. It will also be interesting to read the supervisor’s report as he too is required to document precisely why he called out crime scene investigators and exactly what he did and observed.
(4) Seizure of Property: As there was no trespass, any action flowing from that initial action by Colling in the furtherance of his false arrest is likewise illegitimate and illegal. Colling had no grounds to seize Crooks’ camera, in any way, ever. In this case it seems clear that Colling took Crooks’ tape, but not whether he took Crooks’ camera. Regardless, the legal and procedural principles are the same.
Colling certainly discovered that Crooks was standing in his own driveway, thus did the trespassing charge that was the cause of Colling’s attack on Crooks (an unlawful arrest is an assault and battery) go away to be replaced by equally laughable and unlawful obstruction and battery charges. Rational police officers do not want to be responsible for any property of anyone they arrest unless there is no choice or unless that property is evidence of a crime. In this case, Crooks’ camera was certainly not evidence of a crime, and as it was clearly a very expensive item, any rational officer would simply allow Crooks to leave it at his home or turn it over to a friend or relative designated by Crooks.
In addition, there is no indication that Crooks filmed anything improper or incriminating. Crooks certainly did not think so, indicating that what he was filming appeared to be entirely routine. The camera played no more role in the false trespass charge than a hat would, and by Colling’s own report, could not have played any role in any charge. Colling was justified only in taking it–or the tape–to protect it because Crooks had it when he was arrested, but in that case, it should never have entered the police evidence system–which is where it (or the tape) presumably remains–but only the jail property system where it would have been released to Crooks when he bonded out of jail.
CONCLUSION: It appears that Off. Colling became enraged at Crooks’ perfectly legal filming of what appears to be an unremarkable, apparently legitimate police action. It is possible that Colling feared that Crooks filmed something he did not want to become public, but if so, Crooks was apparently unaware of this. Ignoring his duty to safely and expeditiously transport his prisoners, Colling approached Crooks, and failing to ask even the most minimal questions necessary to establish the presence of the elements of the offense, falsely arrested Crooks for trespassing.
Colling no doubt quickly discovered that he had violently arrested a man for trespassing on his own property. It’s unknown whether he called the supervisor or exactly how that supervisor came to the scene, but he certainly consulted with Colling, called crime scene investigators and probably paramedics, would have seen everything that happened, and approved–at least by doing nothing and raising no objection–Colling’s lodging of false charges against Crooks when it was obvious that the trespassing charge which was the basis for everything that followed was fatally flawed.
Colling, possibly afraid of what was on the video shot by Crooks, even after he knocked the camera from Crooks’ hands and kicked it into bushes, illegally seized it–or at least the tape–apparently as evidence rather than safeguarding it as Crook’s property.
Whether Metro continues to protect Colling from the consequences of what appears to be the false arrest and beating of an innocent citizen, remains to be seen, but it does appear that officers of greater rank than Colling have already taken significant steps in that direction.
Any responsible supervisor should be very suspicious of Colling’s behavior in this case. An officer who, in 5.5 years has killed two citizens apparently loses his cool and attacks a citizen for doing nothing more than using a videocamera? As I’ve written in past updates, an officer who has killed a citizen is rare in most police departments. Most officers complete a career without ever having fired their weapons, let alone killing anyone. An officer who has killed two in only five years on the job is very unusual. By itself, this fact does not necessarily indicate wrongdoing on the part of the officer, but combined with Colling’s apparently paranoid behavior in this incident, any competent supervisor should have more than sufficient cause to take a very careful look at the case, and at Colling.
WHAT DOES THIS CASE HAVE TO DO WITH THE SCOTT CASE?
The outcome of the Crooks case will likely have no bearing on the Scott case, but the similarities, similarities which may indicate ingrained corruption in all manner of cases, are striking:
(1) In each both cases, officers acted without justification and were not in control of themselves or of events.
(2) In each case, citizens were harmed.
(3) In each case, the involved officers had each previously shot and killed two citizens.
(4) In each case, common professional procedures and practices were abandoned or ignored and mistakes that would cause non-corrupt officers to be fired were apparently overlooked, if they were recognized at all.
(5) In each case, supervisors were involved and had the opportunity, then and there, to hold officers who made serious mistakes accountable, to stop a chain of events that would only make matters worse, but apparently not only did nothing to prevent things from getting further out of hand, but may have engaged instead in a continuing coverup of police wrongdoing.
(6) In each case, evidence was apparently mishandled, perhaps even destroyed. It would appear that whenever there is potential video evidence of possible Metro misdeeds, that evidence somehow ceases to exist. It is likewise remarkable that in this age of ubiquitous video of just about any and everything, so little video of Metro wrongdoing ever surfaces, particularly considering that police cars and helicopters are commonly video equipped.
(7) In both cases, the officers involved were apparently either incredibly incompetent, incredibly corrupt or both and enjoyed what appears to be the support of their superiors, other involved agencies, and the prosecutor’s office.
Keep in mind that similar irregularities did not begin with the Scott case, and it would seem that they have not ended with that case.
THE REALITIES OF POLICE RECRUITMENT:
After posting Update 10 I realized that many readers may be unfamiliar with the realities of police recruitment and training. As this series is fundamentally about proper, professional police training, procedures and practice, and to what degree the Metro Police apparently fail to act professionally, it’s worthwhile to have a working understanding of these issues. In Update 10 I reported that Officer Thomas Mendiola failed to pass his first basic academy class but was apparently allowed to retake the class, and apparently passed on his second attempt. I also noted that many law enforcement agencies do not allow second chances at basic academies. Apparently Metro does, at least in the case of Officer Mendiola.
Police recruitment and training are difficult, expensive and time-consuming matters for any police agency. Most people do not realize that a new recruit is essentially useless as a police officer for, commonly, at least a year from their date of hire. For additional information on this topic, you might want to read an article I recently wrote for Pajama Media. To read Metro’s account of its hiring process, take the link at the beginning of this update.
Metro’s hiring process is similar to that of many large police agencies. To be eligible for hiring with Metro, a candidate must have a high school diploma or GED, must be at least 21, have a valid Nevada driver’s license, and must be an American citizen. Convictions for certain crimes and certain classes of crimes are disqualifying. No prior police experience or higher education is required. The formal process consists of:
(1) A personal history questionnaire. Such questionnaire’s are commonly used to screen out people who are very obviously, frighteningly unsuited to the job at an early stage before additional money is spent on them.
(2) A written examination. Such tests are commonly used to identify those lacking the basic level of potential competence and human social skill necessary in a police officer. Even so, the passing score is a generous 70%.
(3) A physical fitness test.
(4) An oral interview by several police officers. Those who pass are ranked on an eligibility list and the most promising candidates are given a conditional offer of employment while comprehensive background checks are done. Background checks consist of a background interview, written and oral psychological tests, a polygraph and a medical examination.
(5) Those passing all tests are offered employment but have to pass another physical fitness exam prior to beginning the basic academy. Passing the basic academy and field training courses are requirements for continued employment.
All of these steps are common to police agencies across the nation. It is this hiring process, local and perhaps state academies, and a field training officer program– where a recruit rides with officers trained to prepare them to be on their own–that takes as much as a year before a recruit is capable of functioning independently as a police officer. In most agencies, officers in their first year are more or less immune to the political realities of the real world of policing. They are simply too busy learning everything they need to know to be involved in internal politics or, in corrupt agencies, to be involved in systemic corruption.
Even so, it is entirely possible for people who are not truly fit to be police officers to pass through all of these steps and to find themselves in contact with the public. In competent police organizations, there is enormous pressure to quickly identify such people and to remove them from the ranks. In these organizations, good public relations is paramount, and there is a keen awareness of the potential for lawsuits and the bad publicity that accompanies such things, warranted or unwarranted. Professional organizations and officers strive to be professional in all things, and do not for a moment expect other agencies of the criminal justice system to cover for them or to bail them out of trouble. In fact, they expect just the opposite.
On the other hand, incompetent, overbearing, badge-heavy, violence-prone officers flourish in corrupt agencies. They find many people just like themselves, and they tend to feed off each other and to protect each other. Such people, like experienced criminals, tend to be manipulative, and by pulling as many others into their web as possible, make themselves virtually immune from discipline and firing.
It’s important to emphasize again that the mere fact that an officer has shot and killed people is not, in and of itself, an indicator of anything other than that fact. He may have been working in an area where shootings were more likely, or in an assignment where shooting was more likely. He may have simply been unlucky. But when an officer with a background like Colling’s is involved in a violent incident where the real possibility exists that he was violently, criminally culpable, any rational police agency would be very concerned and very careful to investigate fully, dispassionately and with the highest professional standards. There is reason to believe that such care is simply not taken in Metro.
TASER/CORONER’S INQUEST UPDATE:
Updates 9 and 9.2 and 10 covered the taser death of Anthony Jones and the revision of the coroner’s inquest process by the Clark County Commission. This revision was a direct result of pubic outcries over the Scott inquest. Since those posts, the involved officers, Mark Hatten and Timothy English, who were administratively suspended after Jones’ death, have been returned to duty in unspecified positions that don’t require contact with citizens. Those wishing to read the entire updated article on the incident should take the link at the beginning of this update.
According to the Clark County Coroner’s office, Jone’s death was a homicide, which means only that he died “as a result of the actions of others.” The Coroner’s office also indicated that Jones had cocaine and alcohol in his system in unspecified quantities, an enlarged heart from obesity, and mild hypertension. Also contributing to his death was “police restraining procedures.” Assistant Coroner John Fudenberg allowed that being tasered may have contributed to Jones’ death: “It’s safe to say that it could have possibly contributed to his death.” AC Fundenberg apparently has a gift for ironic understatement.
Very disturbing is this news:
“A 2008 study by Amnesty International concluded that Las Vegas led U.S. cities in deaths involving law enforcement use of Tasers. The study found that between June 2001 and August 2008, seven people died after Tasers were used on them. Six of the deaths involved Las Vegas officers, who began using Tasers in 2004.
Update 9 indicated that Jones’ death might be the first test case of new coroner’s inquest procedures, but that has not come to pass. In fact, there is currently a backlog of some six cases awaiting an inquest.
Why is there a backlog of cases involving Metro officers? Because Metro officers, through their union, are still refusing to cooperate with investigators and to testify at inquests. Hatten and English did not cooperate with Metro in the initial investigation of Jones’ death, and it’s not know whether they have rendered any meaningful cooperation since.
What does seem clear is that Metro officers, through their union spokesmen and potentially otherwise, are dictating to the public and to their superior officers what they will and will not do. They are refusing to be held accountable for their official actions when those actions involve the deaths of citizens. They are refusing to submit to the authority of those from whom every iota of their power comes: The public.
It is not surprising, but it is certainly disgusting, that Metro management and the Las Vegas criminal justice system seem to be paralyzed by this undisguised mutiny. There are several obvious possibilities for this apparent paralysis:
(1) Management is incompetent, as is the entire Las Vegas criminal justice system, including the prosecutors and the courts.
(2) Management is corrupt and involved in the alleged crimes, and benefits from keeping such matters under wraps.
(3) Management simply doesn’t care for whatever reasons.
Regardless of the cause, this apparent state of affairs is highly unusual and actually shocking. Virtually anywhere else in the nation, officers would not think of such a blatant refusal to do their duties, to say nothing of actually making the threat or refusing. It is all the more shocking because Metro management and the criminal justice system do not, for a moment, have to abide such mutiny.
As I noted in the aforementioned updates, under Nevada law officers who elect to refuse to cooperate in investigations may be charged with insubordination, which is a firing offense. Officers subpoenaed to appear at an inquest or any other hearing have no choice, just like any citizen, but to appear. Any officer refusing may be arrested and taken before a judge who will demand that they show cause why they should not be held in contempt of court. Any officer found in contempt may be jailed and fined, commonly thousands of dollars and up to a year in jail. This is certainly as true in Las Vegas as it is anywhere else in America. Under such circumstances, state licensing authorities may also revoke an officer’s certification, without which he or she may not work as a public police officer.
The fact that this mutiny is apparently being allowed to paralyze the Las Vegas criminal justice system may reasonably be interpreted to mean that Metro management, the prosecutor’s office and the courts do not want the process to go forward. They do not want officers to testify. They do not want the truth to be revealed. One may speculate on the reasons therefore, but the mere fact that officers are being allowed to refuse to do their duty is potentially damning and should not give Las Vegans confidence in the professional management abilities of the Sheriff or anyone involved.
Remember that even officers who are not directly involved in the death of a citizen, but who may be witnesses before, during, or after such incidents are apparently also refusing to testify. Refusal to testify or cooperate under such circumstances may be done out of a misplaced sense of loyalty or may be due to peer pressure, but the effect is always the same: The potentially improper or criminal actions of others remain unexposed and unpunished. The truth is withheld. The public’s trust is betrayed.
Sheriff Gillespie, DA Rogers and the courts can end this mutiny at will. They can require officers to do their duty and see that justice occurs. To date, it appears that they are content with the status quo.
The final resolution of the Scott case will likely take a year or more, but much sooner than that, Las Vegans will likely be able to reasonably determine whether their police force serves them, or whether they are little more than a uniformed gang, accountable only to themselves.