Monday, Sept. 27, 2010 | 11:30 p.m.
- Unidentified caller from within Costco talking to dispatchers
- Shai Lierley on the phone with dispatchers
- Metro Police radio traffic during the July 10 officer-involved shooting that left Erik Scott dead
Peter Calos, the Metro homicide detective who oversaw the investigation into Erik Scott’s July shooting death outside a Summerlin Costco, testified Monday that Scott had a high number of prescriptions for pain medications from different doctors, one of whom never treated Scott as a patient.
Calos said the doctor, whom he identified as “Dr. Pierce,” told investigators after Scott’s death that “he did not know Erik Scott and had not treated him professionally.”
During the investigation, Calos learned that Scott’s girlfriend, Samantha Sterner, used to work for Pierce but was no longer employed there.
A state database of prescription drugs, cross-checked with Scott’s medical records, yielded evidence that Scott had been prescribed “an inordinate amount of pain medications,” Calos said.
In addition, Scott’s and Sterner’s prescription histories seemed to match.
“What I noticed was some tremendous similarities” in the medications prescribed to both Scott and Sterner, Calos said on the stand.
Testimony at different points throughout the inquest indicated Scott took prescription narcotics to treat pain from injuries that flared up after a car accident, but Calos said no injuries were reported in crashes that involved Scott.
In 2010, Scott was involved in three traffic accidents: One in January, one in April and one within days of the July 10 shooting.
According to a police report, in his most recent traffic accident, Scott told investigators he didn’t see the car he struck because he was adjusting a medical device in his car. Scott, a West Point and Duke University graduate, was a medical device salesman.
Calos also testified about the weapons found after Scott was shot to death. He showed the jury a Ruger .380 semi-automatic handgun and a .45-caliber Kimber single action pistol.
The Kimber was found in its holster not far from where Scott’s body landed after he was shot. The Ruger was found in Scott’s clothing as he was being taken to the hospital.
Jurors also were shown copies of Scott’s concealed carry permit for the weapons, as well as copies of gun registrations, which Scott carried in his wallet.
It wasn’t clear if Scott was licensed to carry one of the guns because the manufacturer’s name was different than what he was carrying, although the two guns were similar, Calos said. Scott’s concealed carry permit indicated he was authorized to carry a number of weapons; however, what was on the permit for the .380 was a Kel Tec, not a Ruger.
Under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Chris Owens, Calos said it was a crime to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.
He also said it was a felony to be in possession of a firearm while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Outside of eyewitness accounts of the shooting, much of the testimony has centered on Scott’s use of prescription painkillers.
Bullet fragments and casings were found at the scene, Calos said. The casings show that Officer William Mosher fired twice, Officer Thomas Mendiola fired four times and Officer Joshua Stark fired once.
Neither of Scott’s weapons had been fired, Calos said.
One witness Monday – the fifth day of proceedings in the coroner’s inquest – said the second and third officers who shot at Scott used “gratuitous violence.”
Howard Brooks, a criminal defense attorney, said he had finished shopping when he noticed three police officers as he left the store. The first officer had his gun out.
“He seemed very nervous and aggressive,” Brooks said.
He then noticed two more officers with their guns out.
Brooks said he took his purchases to his car, then returned to the front of the store to see what was happening.
He saw a large crowd of people leaving the store and was told by another customer they were evacuating because of a man with a gun inside.
He said Scott walked out, then he heard the first officer yell “drop it” and instantly fire his gun.
“It is absolutely immediate,” Brooks said.
He said he heard part of the 911 tape of the shooting played on the news and he knows his story doesn’t match. It is possible he didn’t hear everything since he was 25 feet away, he said.
“Obviously I didn’t hear everything, but what I heard was the officer say ‘drop it’ and bam, bam, bam,” he said.
Brooks also insisted Scott was shot in the back, despite every other witness saying he was shot in the chest.
“All I see is the officer shooting him three times. And it looks to me like he’s shooting him in the back,” he said, adding that Scott was already falling on his face when the other two officers fired.
“I couldn’t see any reason in the world why these shots were being fired,” he said.
Brooks also said he looked for a gun but never saw one.
“I don’t see a gun anywhere around him, but I see bullet holes in the back,” he said. He said if the officers would have followed Scott to his car and “had a conversation with him … none of this would have happened.”
"I never saw Erik Scott do anything out of the ordinary at all, except get shot," Brooks said after a question from an interested party, which includes Scott’s family and the family’s attorney.
Owens pointed out that Brooks said in his statement to police that he was watching the officer, not Scott.
However, Brooks said he wasn't happy with the way the police officer took his statement. Brooks gave his statement, but the recorder didn't work, so he had to give it again and he didn't give as thorough a statement the second time, Brooks said.
Owens said it sounded like Brooks had a bias against police. Brooks insisted he didn't, but he said he thinks officers do a bad job taking witness statements.
Owens pointed out that Brooks found the officer in a different position than every other witness. He also had other inconsistencies between his testimony today and his statement to police, Owens said.
Employee Clayton Phillips had a different take on what happened.
He had finished his shift at Costco and stayed to do some shopping with his wife when they were told to evacuate.
He saw Scott in the store, and then again outside. Phillips testified that an officer ordered Scott to “get down” and to “drop your weapon,” but when Scott reached for his gun, Phillips said he knew it wasn’t going to end well.
“Here we go, we’re going to have a shootout,” Phillips said he thought to himself.
An interested party asked if Phillips felt threatened by Metro since he was standing behind Scott and potentially in the officer’s line of fire.
“My concern was not with Metro, my concern was with Erik Scott,” he said, explaining that he couldn’t see the officer, but he saw Scott pull a gun. “I knew there was a threat and I felt Erik was the threat,” he added.
Ralph Smithwick, another Costco employee, also testified that Scott looked threatening. Officers had to shoot, Smithwick said.
Ronald Montgomery, a Costco customer, also said officers had no choice but to shoot.
Montgomery works in law enforcement for the Department of Homeland Security. He said he saw Scott holding the handle of a gun, raising it from his waist to shoulder level in front of him, pointed at the officer.
“He wasn’t complying with the commands,” Montgomery said.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Christopher Laurent asked Montgomery how he expected the officer to react.
“The only way they could, in my opinion,” Montgomery said. Since Scott failed to obey commands and brought his weapon up, they had to shot him, he said.
But another customer, David Seidlitz, disagreed.
“He just was walking toward the parking lot like he was leaving like everyone else,” he said.
Bettie Lou Travis, who works at Costco distributing food samples, said she was afraid as soon as she saw the gun.
“He was holding the gun in a shooting position,” she said, adding that she ducked away as soon as she saw it. “I didn’t wait to see him drop it or whatever he was going to do.”
Michael Dye, who was shopping with his wife, Christine, who also testified, said he didn’t understand why Scott didn’t comply with officer’s orders.
In response to a question from an interested party, Dye said, "it seemed surreal what was happening. I couldn't imagine someone wouldn't comply (with the officer's commands) ... especially finding out later that he was a concealed weapons (permit) holder."
William Carlston, who was shopping at the store with his wife, said Scott looked agitated and was glancing around before he was shot. Shopper Lee Mendell said she was surprised with what happened.
Also Monday, the district attorney’s office played recorded statements from witnesses David Warner and Sherri Dorsey.
Firefighter Chris Thorpe explained emergency responders’ actions to try to save Scott.
Scott wasn’t breathing and had no heart rate when firefighters arrived, Thorpe said, but they loaded Scott onto a gurney and into an ambulance, then headed for a hospital.
Paramedics gave Scott oxygen, performed CPR and gave him medication to try to restart his heart, but they weren’t able to revive him, Thorpe said.
After the day’s testimony ended, Scott family attorney Ross Goodman told reporters no one has testified they felt threatened by Scott’s actions.
“Nobody said that he was acting in a threatening manner when he was leaving Costco; when he was outside Costco nobody testified that he was acting erratically,” Goodman said. “Instead, people testified that Erik was like a deer in the headlights, he was caught, he was frozen in time, he had three to four seconds to react and in that time he attempted to hand the holster over to the police officers when they decided to shoot.”
The inquest proceedings will resume at 10 a.m. Tuesday, the sixth day of the inquest at the Regional Justice Center in downtown Las Vegas.
- Witnesses give conflicting accounts of Costco police shooting (9-25-10)
- Day 4 blog: Witnesses recall fatal police shooting at Costco (9-25-10)
- Shoppers recount police shooting outside Costco (9-24-2010)
- Day 3 blog: Witnesses back officers’ decision to shoot Erik Scott (9-24-2010)
- Officer in Costco shooting says man raised gun, didn't know it was in holster (9-23-2010)
- Day 2 blog: Officer in Costco shooting: ‘He was a deadly threat with that weapon’ (9-23-2010)
- Inquest testimony focuses on Erik Scott’s use of prescription drugs (9-22-10)
- Day 1 blog: Witness says Erik Scott appeared 'dazed,' aimed gun at officer (9-22-10)
CORRECTION: This story originally had the wrong name of a gun. Caltech was corrected to Kel Tec. Also, this story originally said Officer Mosher fired three times, but it was corrected to twice. | (September 28, 2010)