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April 25, 2015

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Vigil marks anniversary of fatal Erik Scott shooting


Jackie Valley

Friends and supporters mark the one-year anniversary of Erik Scott’s death outside the Summerlin Costco, where he was fatally shot by Metro Police officers.

Click to enlarge photo

At a candlelight vigil Sunday evening to mark the one-year anniversary of Erik Scott's death, friends and supporters vowed to continue seeking justice. Scott was shot by Metro Police on July 10, 2010, at the Summerlin Costco after authorities say he pointed a gun at an officer. A coroner's jury ruled the fatal shooting justified.

To mark the one-year anniversary of Erik Scott’s death after he was fatally shot by Metro Police, his family laid his ashes to rest in the Pacific Ocean.

In Las Vegas, his friends and supporters made sure that wasn’t the last chapter to his story. Instead, they gathered outside Costco on Sunday evening to remember him with a moment of silence and vows to continue seeking justice.

“Erik’s death was not in vain,” the Scott family wrote in a statement read at the vigil. “It was a turning point for Las Vegas, a singular event that galvanized this community.”

The 38-year-old West Point graduate was killed by police July 10, 2010, after authorities say he pointed a gun at an officer, prompting them to shoot.

In September, a six-day coroner's inquest found the three Metro officers involved — William Mosher, Joshua Stark and Thomas Mendiola — justified in the shooting.

The seven-member panel came to the decision following 90 minutes of deliberations.

At the time, the Scott family responded by saying the inquest "failed miserably" and followed by filing a lawsuit Oct. 28 in U.S. District Court for Nevada against Metro, Sheriff Douglas Gillespie, the three officers involved as well as Costco Wholesale Corp. The family later dropped Costco from the lawsuit.

The uproar surrounding the shooting and subsequent inquest triggered a quest to make changes to the coroner's inquest system. Clark County commissioners approved changes in December that would include the establishment of an ombudsman to represent victims' families, the release of key investigative files and the restructuring of meetings before the inquest hearing.

The changes, however, remain a contentious issue with the police union, which calls them unconstitutional. The Las Vegas Police Protective Association filed legal action in June to halt the changes before the first scheduled inquest occurred using the new guidelines.

County officials announced Friday that inquests would be postponed pending the court proceedings.

The couple dozen people who attended the candlelight vigil Sunday evening came for a variety of reasons — friendship, solidarity, hope — but they all want to see Scott’s death spur more accountability on behalf of police.

“I hope something good comes out of it all,” said Dustin Deguevara, a friend of Erik’s brother who drove in from California. “As an outsider looking in on the community, it really boggles the mind.”

Deguevara said changes to the coroner’s inquest system satisfied the Scott family, but their overarching goal is “fixing the corruption in Vegas.”

The family’s statement echoed that sentiment, which used fiery language against police to describe what they called a “murder in cold blood.”

“Soon those responsible for Erik’s murder will be held accountable,” the family wrote.

It’s a challenge Heather Spaniol plans to continue supporting. She befriended Scott’s family and friends after his death.

“I came to his vigil last year because I was sick of seeing Metro shootings,” she said.

She went on to attend his coroner’s inquest and the County Commission meetings about the inquest changes.

“We will not stop,” she told the vigil attendees. “We will keep fighting until the coroner changes are through and fair.”

Click to enlarge photo

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

Andrew Martin-Smith attended the anniversary vigil for similar reasons. He never met Scott.

As a former British police officer and California reserve officer, he’s lobbying for changes to reduce the number of officer-involved shootings and how they are investigated afterward.

“People are starting to be aware that it’s time for Las Vegas and surrounding areas to move into the 21st Century,” said Martin-Smith, a member of the Las Vegas Liberty Club. “Some of the ways of operation here are way out of date and need to be reformed.”

Marianne Bonifazio, who had been friends with Scott for eight years, said the most difficult aspect of the past year has been hearing attacks on his character.

“Erik was the kind of guy you wanted to know,” she said. “He was a good friend … He was disciplined. He was a guy who had his act together.”

Even so, Bonifazio said it’s unlikely everyone will agree about what actually happened one year ago.

“It’s a heated thing,” she said. “It has been and I think it will continue to be.”

Metro's policy is not to comment on cases involving litigation.

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  1. Chunky says:

    Mr. Scott created his own problems and initiated the actions that day that ultimately resulted in his death.

    Chunky is also saddened to see one of his associates, a local security consultant and firearms instructor in the photo above. Did those around you realize you were likely carrying a legally concealed weapon tonight and that you train others in the proper use of firearms in self-defense? Maybe you open carried tonight? Why would you teach and espouse one thing yet support someone like Mr. Scott who was a prescription drug addict and high while he was carrying?

    That's what Chunky thinks!

  2. Dipstick beat me to it, but as this anniversary passes I, too, remember how crucial the girfriend's role was in this matter. Her initial recollection at the scene of the shooting (recorded on videotape inside the security office) did not match that of the many independant witnesses who were also in the entryway. In addition, while she was adamant to the point of great emotion on tape that Mr. Scott was executed (my word, not hers), when it came time for her to testify at the inquest, she was a no-show. Now, the independant witnesses who represented neither the cops, the Scotts, or Costco thought the inquest was important enough to appear and testify freely. The cops and the Costco employees testified, too-they didn't refuse. But when it came time for her to appear to answer questions she was nowhere to be found. Plenty of rumors as to why ran rampant, but whatever the reason, everyone else could appear to testify as to what happened under oath, but she could not be bothered to swear.

    The Scotts complain about the cops and Costco all the time, but until they clear up the questions around their kid and his girlfriend their will always be suspicions that surround what Erik and his girlfriend did that day.

  3. Chunky says:

    He agrees with Mr. TomD1228 and others that this was a family problem that should have been solved at the family level. Now it's a community problem and We The People are left to foot the bill cleaning up for the Scott family.

    That's what Chunky thinks too!

  4. I'm with dipstick and WilliamHill. The girlfriend's testimony was CRUCIAL to shed light on what really happened. Why didn't she? To me, when a witness of that importance can't show up to defend her boyfriend's honor and to prove the police were wrong, means one thing: the police were right in their actions and Erik Scott wasn't the choir boy his family and all those cop-hating Scott supporters THINK he was. There was a reason why she ran and no one allegedly has not heard from her since that time. (I can hear the cop haters now thinking Metro paid her off not to testify - give me a break. There was more money in it for her NOT to run and narc on the cops who tried to pay her off.)

    Let it go already. People should spend half the time keeping the memory of our brave soldiers who died in these ridiculous wars alive then keeping the memory alive of this macho guy who lost his life foolishly. Yeah, his family should remember him, but the public?

    KillerB: Come on, don't be a wuss. Tell us your run in with the cops. You were just minding your own business and the cops started hassling you, right? Why can't I believe that?

    And mred: your theory that the media is in the pocket of Metro is stupid, really stupid.

  5. "KillerB: Come on, don't be a wuss. Tell us your run in with the cops. You were just minding your own business and the cops started hassling you, right? Why can't I believe that?"

    Det_Munch -- already asked and answered and provided the link for you on that previous Discussion. Since you didn't respond there, nothing to exchange with you here. And since I see you've degraded this Discussion to name calling, expect to be ignored and disrespected.

    People -- Det_Munch and his ilk here seem to suggest it should be an attaboy-fest when Metro kills one of us in our names. I'd like to see their posts when Metro's bullies come for them.

    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!" -- Benjamin Franklin

  6. <<People -- Det_Munch and his ilk here seem to suggest it should be an attaboy-fest when Metro kills one of us in our names. I'd like to see their posts when Metro's bullies come for them>>

    At times, cops EVERYWHERE have attitudes. They cannot always act like "Mr./Ms. SUnshine" every minute that they are working (and basically - neither can most people). Also, add in smart assses, and of course they will respond in kind and come off as bullies.

    One of the problems Vegas has is it's police force is young. How many veteran, ie 15-20 yrs+ - cops does Metro have to guide and mentor the younger ones? The younger ones come in with attitudes and carry it with them when the finally get on the "job". Veteran officers would temper those attitudes, show them how to act towards the general public and in the different situations they encounter.

    I have no fear of ANY cop, anywhere. I have respect for what they do since I lived with it for 18 years; I was privy to some things most people do not, including you and all the other cop haters on this board. Their job is NOT easy contrary to what you all may think. And it has been said before - if you have nothing to hide, why do you hate the cops so much? You obey the law, you should have nothing to fear and no nasty things to say about the police. Also, NOT having a smart mouth will always get you far with the police.

    I'm sorry I missed your answer to my query; I guess I missed it.

    Also - it is "Det_Munch and HER ilk". You haven't figured that out yet???

  7. "Nice try KillerB."

    Dislikes -- OK, so I'm busted on that one. Usually I'm more specific. But there's just so many quote engines out there and that sure looked good. This should make up for it -- it's actually lifted right out of the case, hence the citation.

    "Indifference to personal liberty is but the precursor of the State's hostility to it." -- United States v. Penn, 647 F.2d 876 (9th Circuit, 1980), Judge Kennedy dissenting

  8. who cares if has two or even three guns? would it better to be irresponsible and leave the 2nd gun in his vehicle that is one of the highest theft vehicles? to allow a car burglar to take it while unattended? he doesn't need your permission to carry two nor is it a given for a battle to ensue. reaching for straws and still coming up with the short one eh PPA?

  9. i should reiterate on the supposed 2nd gun that most likely was produced at a latter time. how does the arresting officer who killed him and others who searched Erik miss an additional gun and two clips when searching him? aren't metro officers trained well to search an individual? especially one who is just lying there dead? this is just one of the many problems. first it was the exit camera there were problems with and wouldn't show video but then later the whole system compromised and no inner video of any witnesses walking around nor that show Erik behaving/not-behaving. the large amount of witnesses that either work for metro or in training for metro. some witnesses perjured and the DA didn't point it out at the inquest. the list just keeps growing on these huge mistakes and series of bad luck with star witnesses being that of the corporation also responsible that cannot tell the color of the object in Erik's hand which tells me she didn't see what it was yet her testimony of it being a gun cannot be cross examined and given benefit of it actually being that of a gun though this woman was also standing in a spot where her vision was blocked. not enough room here for the list.

  10. why not call them racist also while making the false claim of them being 'cop haters'
    when all else fails resort to name calling that doesn't even fit the bill. by the way... what happened to tanker1978? he was very respectable here. you guys flagged him out or what?