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August 4, 2015

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Family critical of process as inquest into police shooting set to start

Erik Scott's Attorney

Erik Scott's Attorney, Seg. 2

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  • Erik Scott's Attorney, Seg. 2
  • Erik Scott's Attorney, Seg. 3
  • Erik Scott's Attorney, Seg. 4
  • Erik Scott's Attorney, Seg. 1

Summerlin Costco Shooting

Metro crime scene investigators, officers and detectives mill about the entrance of the Costco store in Summerlin after the shooting July 10, 2010. Launch slideshow »

A coroner’s inquest into the death of 38-year-old Erik Scott, shot by Metro Police officers July 10 at a Summerlin Costco, is set to begin Wednesday morning at the Regional Justice Center in downtown Las Vegas.

The family of Scott, a West Point and Duke University graduate with a concealed weapon permit, has denied Metro’s version of events and has been openly critical of the inquest process.

At a brief news conference held across the street from the scene of the shooting on the eve of the proceedings, Scott’s parents and brother said they wanted more answers and accountability than the inquest process could provide.

His father, Bill Scott, expressed frustration with the inquest process and said he just wants the truth about what happened that day to come to light.

“This is nothing but theater. This is reality TV. And the sole purpose of this is not fact-finding — it is to exonerate three cops that killed my son,” he said.

He also said he was anticipating attacks on his son’s character from the witness stand.

“Instead of a very short, factual inquest hearing, I think you’re going to hear day after day of attempts to trash my son’s reputation and make him look like he was something other than he really was,” he said.

Police have said officers responded to the store after a Costco employee called 911 to report a man acting erratically, damaging merchandise and carrying a pistol in his waistband.

Authorities said he pointed a gun at officers before he was shot, but some witness accounts have differed with Metro’s version of events.

On Monday, Bill Scott posted an entry on the family’s blog detailing the medications his son had been taking. In it, he writes that his son had been taking a number of drugs, including prescribed painkillers for a back injury as well as steroids. Heart medication, a number of over-the-counter supplements and antidepressants also were found in his son’s system, he said.

“Whatever happened, whatever he might have been taking, whatever treatment he might have had, has absolutely nothing to do with the three to five seconds it took for those cops to determine that he was a danger, and they shot him to death,” he said Tuesday afternoon. He said he posted the information publicly because he knew “what they’re going to hit us with” during the inquest.

He also referenced what he called the attacks on his son’s character that had been leaked to local media outlets in recent weeks. He said the real story about what happened that day would only come to light when surveillance video — video Metro has said can’t be recovered — of the incident was released.

Erik Scott’s mother, Linda Scott, called the process unfair and one-sided.

“This should never have happened. This was a tragedy that should not happened in the United states of America...The way it was handled, it’s like something that happened in a Third World country,” she said. “We’re going to fight for justice, as long as it takes.”

Within weeks of the shooting, Erik Scott’s family had launched a campaign to raise awareness about the incident at both the local and national level, including purchasing ad space on Las Vegas billboards and flying banners over California beaches.

Erik’s younger brother, Kevin, said the inquest, which is expected to last through the end of this week and could spill into next, marks the start of his family learning some important details surrounding his brother’s death.

“Although this is going to be an extremely trying few days and probably some of the worst days of my life, we’ll finally get some evidence,” he said. “The optimist in me is looking forward to hearing 911 calls and hearing more about Costco (video) recordings.”

Through their attorney, Ross Goodman, the Scott family had requested to view the evidence that will be presented to the jury before the inquest began. That request was denied last week.

Family members said they didn’t believe that surveillance video, even if it had been recovered, would be shown to the jury. They also said they wanted federal investigators to get involved.

Metro has identified the three officers involved as William Mosher, 38, who has been with the department since June 2005; Joshua Stark, 28, with the department since September 2008; and Thomas Mendiola, 23, with the department since March 2009.

The men have been on paid administrative leave since the shooting, in accordance with department policy. All three are patrol officers assigned to the Northwest Area Command.

A jury of seven will determine whether the officers’ actions were justified, excusable or criminal. Coroner’s juries do not have to be unanimous in reaching their decisions.

The inquest will be broadcast live on the Clark County cable television station, Channel 4.

Erik Scott’s girlfriend, who was with him at the Costco store, is expected to be among the dozens of witnesses called to testify. Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Tony Abbatangelo will be the presiding officer.

The inquest originally was scheduled for Sept. 3 but was postponed because of time constraints and to permit investigators time to gather more information in the case.

The inquest into Erik Scott’s death comes on the heels of an inquest into the controversial shooting of Trevon Cole, who was shot to death in his apartment during the execution of a narcotics warrant. Cole was later found to be unarmed.

Jurors determined that Metro Police Detective Brian Yant was justified in that shooting.

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