Las Vegas Sun

August 15, 2018

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Metro Police shoot, kill suspected shoplifter

A suspect who allegedly robbed a Walgreens drug store of some CDs and led Metro Police officers on a car chase was shot and killed by police on Tuesday, marking the eighth police-involved shooting since October and the third fatal shooting by Metro officers in less than three weeks.

Tuesday's killing, which took place on East Flamingo Road several hundred feet from the U.S. 95 overpass, involved at least three officers, all of whom were said to have fired at the suspect, Metro Police Capt. Jim Dillon said on Tuesday.

The dead man, whose identity is being withheld pending notification of his family, had shown a handgun to employees of the Walgreens when they tried to stop him at the store and had pointed the gun at police, which prompted them to shoot him, Dillon said.

Investigators at the scene of the shooting had not determined if the suspect had fired at the officers, Dillon said Tuesday afternoon.

About 12:45 p.m., Metro had been called about a robbery at the Walgreens at 5011 E. Sahara Ave. near Nellis Blvd., about a mile and a half from the shooting, Dillon said.

The suspect was allegedly stealing CDs from the store and showed employees a handgun when confronted, he said.

Police on route to the incident spotted the alleged getaway car, a green older-model four-door Plymouth, at East Flamingo and Nellis Boulevard, and attempted to pull him over. The suspect allegedly refused to pull over and the police pursued him.

The chase continued westbound on Flamingo until police rammed the back end of the suspect's car with a police cruiser, causing the suspect's Plymouth to spin around 180 degrees and stall. It's a technique that police are trained to use to stop vehicles.

One of the officers reported that the suspect pulled out a handgun and pointed it at him, and the three officers shot and killed the suspect. It was not known how many shots were fired, or where the suspect was shot.

The police found a handgun at the scene, Dillon said.

The officers involved will be placed on paid administrative leave following an investigation, and their identities will be released 48 hours after the shooting, as is Metro policy.

The manager at the Walgreens on E. Sahara and Nellis boulevards refused to comment on the alleged robbery, and four employees interviewed declined to comment on the prior incident.

Mark Pfeiffer, an employee at a Kinko's copy store across the street from the Walgreens, said that he had never experienced any robberies or other crimes at the store.

"I'm here 'til 10 (at night), and I would see things," he said.

But another individual, an assistant manager at a nearby Carl's Jr., said the fast food restaurant had been robbed twice in the past year.

The most recent robbery was two or three months ago, said Joe, the assistant manager who declined to provide his last name.

The police-involved shooting on Tuesday was the fifth in a little more than a month.

The most recent Metro Police shooting, on Dec. 30, involved Metro Sgt. Dan McGrath and Officer Redell Moore. The two officers shot and killed 38-year-old Placido Torres after Torres allegedly shot at them.

In that incident, police had responded to a call about a man overdosing in a bathroom at an Ameri-Suites Motel on Paradise Road.

The alleged drug user, who was later identified as Torres, left the bathroom and was seen by police in the parking lot of the motel.

Police approached Torres but he fled from the officers. The two officers then attempted to stop Torres with a Taser, but could not subdue him. Torres then allegedly pulled out a gun and shot at the officers, who returned fire, knocking him to the ground.

Torres allegedly fired again at the officers, so the officers shot him again. Torres was transported to UMC Trauma, where he died of his injuries.

Less than two weeks prior to that gun battle, Metro Officer Raul Rodriguez shot and killed a 48-year-old David Higgins on Dec. 17 at 4629 Calderwood Street.

Higgins was brandishing a sword and attacked Rodriguez when Rodriguez shot and killed him, police allege.

Rodriguez, who has been a Metro officer for five years, works out of the Southwest Area Command.

A police inquest is scheduled for Jan. 14 to determine if Rodriguez was justified in shooting to death Higgins. As per Metro police, all of the officers involved in fatal shootings are placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of coroner's inquests in which a coroner's jury determines whether the use of lethal force was justified.

Not all of the police shootings have been fatal, however. Just a day before Higgins was killed, Metro Sergeant Kathy Komides shot and wounded Toni Card, 47, at the Avila Park apartment complex, 1800 N. Decatur Avenue, on Dec. 16.

Card was allegedly threatening to kill herself with a knife when officers arrived on the scene. Card became aggravated and approached the officers in a threatening way, police allege.

The responding officers shot her with a Taser and a "bean bag" shotgun but that allegedly did not stop her.

Komides then shot Card in the leg. As is the case with all non-lethal shootings, the case will be reviewed by Metro's use-of-force board.

That holds true for a Nov. 25 shooting, for example. Metro Officer James Breed and Officer Sasha Kaster shot and wounded David Martin during a foot chase.

Fatal police shootings in recent months have not been limited to Metro. On Oct. 12, North Las Vegas Police officer Mike Carmody shot and killed Antonio Carona-Mendoza after Carona-Mendoza shot at the officer. A Clark County Coroner's Jury found Carmody was justified in shooting Carona-Mendoza.

In a separate incident on Oct. 12, Metro Officer Gary Torsky and Officer Joey Hernandez shot and killed Archangelito Contreras at Contreras' house. Contreras, who was suffering from a terminal illness, pulled out a .44-caliber revolver and pointed it at the officers, who shot and killed him, police said. A coroner's jury also found that shooting to be justified.

A total of 13 people died at the hands of Clark County law enforcement officers in 2004. Of those, 10 involved Metro officers, two involved North Las Vegas Police officers and one was in Henderson.

In Metro's jurisdiction, which consists of Las Vegas and unincorporated Clark County, six were shot and two died of heart attacks brought on by narcotics after they were shocked with officers' Taser guns.

Seven people were shot and killed by Metro officers in 2003.