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May 25, 2015

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Metro begins releasing reports into all officer-involved shootings

Metro Police have begun releasing reports about nonfatal officer-involved shootings, a move guided by the department’s commitment to be more transparent.

Earlier this year, in the absence of the controversial coroner’s inquest, Metro started releasing reports about deaths resulting from officers’ use of deadly force. Those documents — a criminal investigation report and an Office of Internal Oversight review — coincide with decisions released by Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson regarding each incident.

Metro officials said reports about the nonfatal incidents would be released when they become public record — in other words, when they do not affect pending criminal cases.

Metro’s first nonfatal report, released Wednesday, dates to mid-March, when an officer was shot while entering a home where a domestic shooting had occurred earlier. Metro’s Use of Force Review Board noted several errors on behalf of officers and a commander during the incident.

Officers responded about 10 p.m. March 16 to 1213 Wyatt Ave. after an 8-year-old child arrived at University Medical Center with a gunshot wound. A shot fired during a domestic disturbance had gone through a wall, striking the child.

At the direction of Metro Sgt. Leo Aguilar, officers forced entry into the home, at which point the suspect, Sammie Clay, opened fire from deep within the house. Three officers — Jacob Legrow, Larry Miles and Brian Walter — returned fire.

In the process, police determined Officer Brian Jackson had been struck on the top of his head by a round fired by Clay. Jackson, who was transported to UMC by police vehicle, survived.

SWAT members eventually entered the home later and found Clay dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. None of the bullets fired by officers hit him, police determined.

Even so, Metro’s Use of Force Review Board found officer safety was compromised after officers “failed to take time and ask further questions,” which resulted in them entering a residence with an armed suspect.

Officers entered the home before receiving updates with “critical information” obtained from officers talking to victims at the hospital, according to the report.

The review board found errors on behalf of the following four department members:

• Aguilar misinterpreted data in this situation, leading to decision-making errors.

• Legrow, under the leadership of his field training officer, committed errors during attempted entry into the home. At the time, Legrow was in his fifth week of Metro’s field training and evaluation program.

• Miles was found to be partly responsible for the unsafe tactics used by Legrow, who was his trainee.

• Medina discharged three rounds into the northwest corner of the home without having an identifiable target, which is outside of Metro’s policy.

Aguilar has since completed 40 hours of critical incident review training, according to the reports. The officers involved attended reality-based training sessions, specifically about ambush situations, at the Advanced Officer Skills Training Center. Officers also completed training for high-risk entries.

Full reports about non-fatal officer-involved shootings are posted on Metro’s website.

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