“No good deed goes unpunished.”
Attributed to Clare Boothe Luce
In reporting on the murder of Erik Scott by three Las Vegas Metro officers on July 10, 2010, and the resulting cover up, more than the usual share of irony has been evident. It is surely a truism that no good deed goes unpunished, but it is equally true that a great many bad deeds are rewarded.
I recorded an instance of just that on April 17, 2011 in Update 11, which was reprised on 12-03-11 with the shuttering of Confederate Yankee and the establishment of this scruffy little blog. The National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) awarded two of the officers that killed Scott–William Mosher and Joshua Stark–“honorable mention” awards for heroism under its “Top Cops” awards program. In investigating that jaw-droppingly insane award, I discovered that the head of Metro’s union, Chris Collins, was also the Sgt. At Arms of the NAPO. Thomas Mendiola, the other officer that shot Scott, was not so “honored” as he had been recently suspended and was about to be prosecuted for giving a firearm to a convicted felon. He was eventually convicted of that offense and became one of the few Metro officers in recent years to be fired. I wrote:
Nominations for the award require a supporting essay. It would be interesting indeed to know what Collins wrote in support of Mosher and Stark. One wonders if the other directors of the NAPO actually know that the Scott case is still being litigated and that there are considerable, compelling reasons for believing that Mosher and Stark’s actions are anything but laudable.
Collins’ statement that the officer’s shooting of Scott was not controversial and that’“What potentially could have been a bad situation they brought to an end with no citizens being hurt,’ is simply stunning. The facts could hardly be clearer, or more disquieting.
Three officers, essentially comprising a circular firing squad, were caught totally by surprise when Costco security guard Shai Lierley pointed Scott out to them after he and Samantha Sterner walked right past them with the rest of the crowd leaving the Costco at the order of Police. Despite looking for a man of Scott’s description, he was obviously unremarkable to them, and certainly did not appear a drug-crazed madman. When they were made aware of him, they drew their weapons, shouted hasty, confused and contradictory commands, and within just a few seconds, began to fire seven rounds. They showed no concern for or awareness of the many citizens surrounding them, or of the huge structural pillars faced with rock–perfect random ricochet generators–also around them. That no one else was hurt is miraculous, not heroic police work. Stark and Mendiola testified that when Mosher shot Scott twice, they had no idea who had fired or why, so Mendiola fired four rounds into Scott’s back and Stark fired once.
There is very good reason to believe that the only thing in Scott’s hand was his Blackberry. It was found on the ground near his body, and there are witnesses to that fact and who also saw no weapons at all in Scott’s hands or at the scene after he was shot and killed. Most of these witnesses were excluded from the inquest, but one such witness actually testified, to the apparent surprise of the prosecutor, who engaged in the bizarre act of savaging his own witness on the stand in a hearing in which he had no adversary.
Were they aware that Mosher had two prior Metro shootings, one resulting in a death and other in the wounding of a citizen? As I’ve mentioned before, the mere fact that an officer has been involved in a shooting is not evidence of anything other than that he has been involved in a shooting. But officers who have been involved in a shooting are rare in any police force. Two shootings? Highly unusual, and certainly something that should give any police administrator pause and encourage them to be very careful in their investigation of additional shootings by that officer.
One wonders too if the NAPO is aware of Thomas Mendiola and his fate? Despite being later arrested on a felony, he contributed four of the seven heroic bullets to the non-controversial shooting. Should not he share in the “heroism,” heroism that took place before he allegedly committed a felony? After all, heroes are only human; they make mistakes. Surely mistakes after the fact should not stain earlier acts of valor?
One would hope that the officers of the NAPO, if they were actually aware of these indisputable facts, would not have awarded even an honorable mention to Mosher or Stark, and that they might wish to reconsider the integrity of a member of their governing board who would presumably fail to mention such facts. Surely they did not have full disclosure about the shooting and hand out honorable mentions anyway? It would obviously be prudent for such an organization to at least wait until all litigation had been resolved before making a decision. Heroism never grows stale; it has no expiration date. If it’s truly heroic, it can wait.
[NOTE: When this article was originally posted, I contacted the NAPO and sent them a copy of this article. I did not receive a reply and of course, their award has not been rescinded.]
In Update 11.2, originally posted on May 15, 2011 and reprised at SMM on 12-04-11, I added additional information:
NOTE: At the time, the Metro Union was trying to sneak a bill through the legislature that would have essentially ended inquests in the deaths of citizens at the hands of Metro. He failed; abysmally.
Collins arrogantly announced the award at a legislative committee hearing on a bill that would have allowed the Clark County DA or Coroner–exclusively the Clark County DA or Coroner (in the entire state of Nevada)–to decide whether to hold an inquest in any police shooting. Collins miscalculated. There is substantial evidence to suggest that his ill-conceived action doomed the bill then and there, and has ensured that it has no hope in the future. I’ve come to understand that this kind of arrogant disdain for the public is common with the PPA and with Mr. Collins, and I’ve documented it in past updates.
I sent the following e-mail to the NAPO on April 17:
Good day. I recently learned that your organization awarded an honorable mention to two Las Vegas Metro officers, Joshua Stark and William Mosher, for their part in the shooting death of Erik Scott in July of 2010. It appears that your Sergeant-at-Arms, Chris Collins, made the nomination that resulted in that award.
I’d like to bring to your attention information that might cause you to reconsider that choice, and hope that you might consider it seriously. There is very good reason to believe that their part in the incident for which they are being honored is not worthy of that honor, not the least of which is that it is currently under litigation.
May I suggest that you visit this article: http://confederateyankee.mu.nu/#314865
It is part of an archive of my writings on this case, which should raise reasonable suspicion about what actually happened. Did you know, for example, that one of the three officers who shot and killed Erik Scott was, only months later, arrested for giving a firearm to a felon? Did you know that Off. Mosher, prior to the Scott shooting, had been involved, in a short time, in two shootings, one resulting in the death of a citizen and one a wounding?
As a veteran of nearly two decades of police service, I urge you to carefully consider this situation. I suspect that you’ll find, as have I, that at the very least, it would be unwise to pronounce these officers heroic, unwise and damaging to the reputation of your organization. There are more than enough examples of undisputed, unblemished police heroism out there.
I suspect that it will not be a surprise to readers to learn that the NAPO has not responded [NOTE: It never responded] and that as of the posting of this article, Officers Mosher and Stark are yet listed as honorees on the NAPO website. As I mentioned in my e-mail, this ‘honor’ would seem to be, at the very least, premature. That the NAPO would issue such an honor under these conditions does not speak well of its integrity and dedication to recognizing and rewarding actual heroism and excellence.
In all of my years in law enforcement, I often saw people richly deserving of recognition passed over and ignored, and people whose only accomplishment was posterior bussing lauded. I’ve seen the same in education, and doubtless, readers can relate many similar situations in every field of human endeavor. However, before the Scott case, never had I seen two officers arguably guilty of murder, and of employing such horrible tactics that they put the lives of hundreds of citizens in imminent deadly danger, rewarded for their blatant incompetence.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Douglas C. Gillespie was named by the National Sheriffs’ Association as the winner of the prestigious Ferris E. Lucas Award for Sheriff of the Year 2014.
Of the 3,080 sheriffs in the country, the award has only been given to 18 people since 1995.
The award will be presented to Sheriff Gillespie on June 22 during the opening portion of the 2014 NSA Annual Conference in Ft. Worth, Texas.
Gillespie, a 33-year LVMPD veteran, was elected in 2007 and leads more than 4,700 sworn officers and civilian employees. He is responsible to the safety of nearly 2 million residents and 40 million visitors a year.
On Thursday, Senator Harry Reid presented Sheriff Doug Gillespie with a Congressional Proclamation for being selected Sheriff of the Year.
This presentation took place in Senator Reid’s office located in the Lloyd George Federal Building.
We are pleased to announce that Douglas C. Gillespie, Sheriff of Clark County, Nevada has been selected as the 2014 Ferris E. Lucas Award for Sheriff of the Year.
Sheriff Gillespie is currently serving his second term as Sheriff of Clark County. He worked his way up trough the ranks at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and was elected Sheriff in 2007. Sheriff Gillespie is a 30-year law enforcement veteran. During this time, Sheriff Gillespie has been an active member of his State Association and has contributed greatly to the law enforcement endeavors of his county and the State of Nevada.
Sheriff Gillespie is the Sheriff of the Year, a man that presides over a police department notorious for an extraordinary number of highly questionable police shootings–and killings–each year. Among his accomplishments is poorly training his officers, and hiring and retaining obviously dangerous cops, cops who not only abuse and beat citizens, but actually kill them. In the hundreds of police shootings in recent years, only one officer has ever been found culpable and fired, and few have suffered any discipline. It has only been the adverse publicity that the Scott case, and several others, has focused on Metro and Gillespie, that has caused him to discipline, even fire, some particularly notorious officers, such as Derek Collings, as I reported in Update 10.2. and Jesus Arevalo.
When the Metro union boss, Collins, threatened that any officer subpoenaed to testify at an inquest would take the Fifth, Sheriff Gillespie did nothing. In a professional agency, no officer would so much as think of saying such a thing. The mere idea that any officer would take the Fifth Amendment on the stand in testifying about his official actions would be unthinkable. It would destroy public confidence in law enforcement, such confidence being very scarce in Las Vegas. Not in Gillespie’s Metro; the unthinkable is policy.
Those familiar with the Scott case know the depth of the cover up: mishandling of evidence, tampering with and intimidation of witnesses, illegally searching Scott’s home and seizing his property–to say nothing of his murder–and the list of malpractice and potential crimes goes on and on. The SMM Scott Case archive is here.
Gillespie’s corrupt support of arguably murderous officers continues to this day, as in the more recent case of Officer Jacquar Roston, who shot an unarmed, unthreatening man in the leg in November of 2012. Roston claimed that he mistook something shiny on the man’s hat for a gun. The man was very seriously wounded, and if not for Roston’s poor marksmanship, would have been killed.
Robert Martinez was skeptical when Metropolitan Police Department leaders asked for help to revamp a review board known more for rubber-stamping police shootings than holding cops accountable.
But he was hopeful.
Martinez, 57, agreed to join the board last year as the civilian co-chairman, serving alongside Assistant Sheriff Ted Moody, who was appointed by Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie to oversee the renewed board.
Martinez also had a caveat, which he shared with Moody and other department leaders early in the process.
‘The first sign of no transparency and no openness, and I’m calling bullshit,’ he said.
It didn’t take long for Martinez, and other board members, to make that call:
Martinez quit the board Wednesday. He was joined by four other board members: Glenn Rinehimer, Sandra Eddy, Jay Shafritz and Miriam Rodriguez.
Their resignations followed Moody’s abrupt retirement last week. Gillespie appointed Assistant Sheriff Joseph Lombardo on Wednesday to replace Moody as chairman of the board, which reviews officers’ actions in shootings and other serious uses of force.
The five members, all volunteers, were disappointed in Gillespie’s decision to save officer Jacquar Roston’s job after the Use of Force Board unanimously recommended his firing in April.
‘I am saddened by what I feel is your inability to maintain the integrity and credibility of the Critical Incident Review Process,’ Martinez wrote in his letter. ‘I can no longer support the department’s consistent effort to minimize openness and transparency.’
Shafritz, a three-year veteran of the board, told Gillespie he no longer could serve ‘in good conscience.
The article chronicles the comments of other board members. This should be no surprise. As I’ve previously documented in the Scott Case series of articles, Gillespie’s review board has long been known as a farce and rubber stamp, allowing the most violent, incompetent and dangerous officers to escape all but the most minimal discipline.
In Roston’s case, Gillespie applied only a weeklong suspension and said Roston would undergo unspecified “retraining.”
The changes to the Use of Force Board came in the wake of a federal review into the department’s use-of-force policies and publication of a Review-Journal series, “Deadly Force,’ a yearlong investigation of police shootings. Both the Justice Department and the newspaper found the board lacked transparency and didn’t hold officers accountable.
That was an understatement. Readers interested in Metro’s deadly past might wish to review Update 18, where I reviewed the Las Vegas Review Journal’s five-part series on Metro’s extraordinary number of police shootings. Reviewing all of the articles linked in this article would also be instructive, as would this article which explains, in part, why Gillespie is not running for sheriff again as he originally planned.
Shortly after Martinez’s resignation, a sixth board member followed:
Robert Le Piere, 60, resigned as a civilian board member Thursday morning, following in the footsteps of the five board members who resigned the day before.
On Wednesday, board co-chairman Robert Martinez and four members quit in protest of Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie’s decision to save the job of Jacquar Roston, who shot and wounded a man in November. The board unanimously recommended Roston be fired.
Assistant Sheriff Ted Moody, who co-chaired the board, abruptly retired last week after Gillespie’s decision.
Le Piere, a retired police officer from New Jersey and six-year veteran of the board, said he wasn’t on the panel that reviewed Roston’s shooting but was troubled by Gillespie’s ruling.
‘I have never been on a panel where people took it anything less than tremendously serious,’ Le Piere said. ‘I can understand their feelings having their decision overturned. It’s offensive. Why are we here?
Pandering to a police union to the detriment of the public, hiring and retaining officers demonstrably unfit and actively dangerous to the public, running a police department whose officers are hated and feared by the citizens they “serve,” and with more than good cause, running a civilian review board as a rubber stamp for indefensible decisions, and ignoring them when they unanimously recommend firing an officer that would have been fired by any professional chief or Sheriff, all of this and more is apparently worthy of high honors in law enforcement in 2014 America. For the NSA, Doug Gillespie is apparently the pinnacle of law enforcement integrity and accomplishment.
In Las Vegas, it’s merely the status quo, what residents have come to expect. God help them; the NSA and Metro won’t.
PS: I’ll contact the NSA and report on what, if anything, they have to say about this. Readers can contact the NSA via e-mail here. I would, of course, be interested in copies of any correspondence to and from the NSA. I’m sure SMM readers will maintain their usual decorum in their writings to the NSA.