Saturday, March 15, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Two weeks before David Robinson was shot dead by a North Las Vegas police officer, his mother assured him they would soon meet again despite living 1,500 miles apart.
Unemployed for seven years, Robinson, 38, was feeling dejected. He missed his mother, who moved away from the Las Vegas Valley to Monroe, La., decades ago to care for an ailing relative.
“I told him God would make it possible for him to find a job. That he know God was with him,” Geneva Robinson said. “I told him I'd see him again soon, but I never thought it would be under these circumstances.”
Officer Raymond Lopez, a five-year veteran of the department, reportedly shot David Robinson several times in the head after trying to stop him in the 800 block of Tonopah Avenue early Monday. Before Lopez opened fire, David Robinson was allegedly uncooperative and backed away from the officer during an encounter that lasted less than two minutes. Homicide detectives recovered a knife after the shooting, but they don't know whether Robinson wielded it.
Department officials, citing the ongoing investigation, have offered no other details about what led to the brief, predawn confrontation.
“There are a lot of questions in that time frame: Did the suspect present the knife? Did the suspect threaten the officer with the knife? What caused the officer to react the way he did? We're in a position where we're going to take as much time as we need to do a thorough investigation and not jump to conclusions,” police spokeswoman Chrissie Coon said. “We don't want to assume anything in a case like this.”
But David Robinson's relatives, furious over the shooting, want those answers now.
“This was unjustified,” said his uncle, Ivory Robinson. “My nephew, he wasn't no aggressive person. He was a humble person. He ain't going to hurt you.”
David Robinson, who is survived by his estranged wife and their 16-year-old son, had apparently been living on the streets and was in and out of the Clark County jail since 2000 for a litany of charges that include drug possession, vagrancy and obstructing a police officer. Before he was unemployed, he worked odd jobs at fast food restaurants and hotels.
Ivory Robinson drew a parallel between his nephew's death and that of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, who was shot while unarmed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.
“This is another Zimmerman case right here, because apprehending a person is not killing a person,” Ivory Robinson said. “What was the motive that (Lopez) had? Don't nobody know what was going through his mind. Don't nobody know but God and him.”
Monday's incident was the police department's first fatal officer-involved shooting since January 2011.
Any time a North Las Vegas officer is involved in a fatal shooting, a two-pronged investigation is launched. Internal Affairs looks into whether the officer violated departmental policies or procedures during the shooting and, as a result, whether any punishment is needed. Homicide detectives, meanwhile, investigate whether the officer was justified in his firing his or her duty weapon and, consequently, if any laws were broken.
Per department protocol, Lopez has been placed on paid administrative leave until that investigation is completed.
“Somebody's life was taken, and we owe the public answers,” Coon said. “In order for us do a thorough investigation as to what happened out there, we need time. But I can understand from the family's perspective how us taking the time to do that thorough investigation will probably frustrate them because they answers right now.”
Geneva Robinson plans to travel to North Las Vegas on Monday to take care of her son's funeral arrangements. Her last memory of him was the phone call in which she ominously predicted their final reunion.
She called her son's shooting an “unjust murder.”
“You can't tell me (Lopez) shot him several times in the head and didn't intend to kill my child,” she said, her voice raising with anger. “It's tearing me apart, but I've got to be strong in this. I've just got to trust God. The truth will prevail, you know.”