Las Vegas Sun

May 16, 2021

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2 at Metro removed from task force after freeing violent felon from jail

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Raul Gonzalez

A Metro Police supervisor and a detective have been removed from a gang task force after an internal investigation showed they improperly orchestrated the release of a convicted killer from jail weeks before he allegedly killed another man.

The probe, launched after five Metro officials requested the release of Raul "Sparks" Gonzalez, also resulted in more stringent protocols for members of the FBI-led Las Vegas Safe Streets Task Force, Metro Deputy Chief Al Salinas said.

Gonzalez, a criminal informant for Metro, pleaded guilty in a January 2011 armed robbery case as part of a Metro-backed deal that guaranteed his freedom from the Clark County Detention Center in December and greatly reduced his charges.

The plea bargain was offered even though the suspect is a purported member of the 28th Street gang and has a violent criminal history that includes a voluntary manslaughter conviction in 2002.

Three weeks after his release, Gonzalez allegedly killed his girlfriend's uncle, Eric Montoya. According to a police report, the suspect told officers he was afraid Montoya was planning to retaliate against Gonzalez for leaking information to police.

Metro has refused to release the names of the officers involved in Gonzalez's release, including the two disciplined.

In court documents, Salinas cited the agency's concerns for the officers' safety.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Danielle Pieper, who requested the defendant's release on behalf of the Metro officers, did not return a message Friday seeking comment.

FBI officials, meanwhile, have denied using Gonzalez as an informant or helping to free him.

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