Las Vegas Sun

July 16, 2019

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Mother alleges Metro wrongdoing in death of teenage son during standoff

Mother Files Lawsuit Against Metro

Steve Marcus

Taccara Brooks, center, is surrounded by family members during a news conference outside the Brent Bryson law office Friday, April 5, 2019. Her sister Traniece Seymour is at left. Brooks filed a lawsuit against Metro Police in connection with the death of her 16-year-old son Anthony Garrett in 2017.

Mother Files Lawsuit Against Metro Police

Attorney Brent Bryson, left, and Taccara Brooks, center, talk with reporters during a news conference outside the Brent Bryson law office Friday, April 5, 2019. Brooks filed a lawsuit against the Metro Police Department in connection with the death of her 16-year-old son Anthony Garrett in 2017. Launch slideshow »

Coming up on two years, Metro Police officers stood outside Taccara Brooks’ front door.

A trio of young suspects reportedly burglarized a home in the east-valley neighborhood that summer afternoon. An 11-year-old boy was already in handcuffs, but two remained on the lam, including the woman's oldest child, Anthony Garrett, police said.

Authorities learned where the 16-year-old boy lived and they wanted to enter to look for him, according to Brooks and an account provided by police, who said the area had been plagued by a series of burglaries.

Brooks allowed them in, not knowing an hours-long search would turn into an hours-long barricade that would conclude with her son being hauled off with a fatal gunshot wound to the head.

Metro Police and the Clark County Coroner’s Office maintain that the blast was self-inflicted and that the teen took his own life, but Brooks and her attorney, Brent Bryson, who on Friday filed a multimillion-dollar federal civil rights lawsuit against the police department, said many questions remain unclear, including “how the shot occurred.”

Police at the time said they’d found evidence from previous burglaries inside his house.

It wasn’t until hours after police pulled up to the 4900 block of Miners Ridge Drive, near the Clark County Wetlands Park, on July 12, 2017 — with officers still inside and outside Brooks’ house — that she heard a “whole bunch of commotion,” Brooks said tearfully Friday, outside her attorney's west valley office, surrounded by her siblings, family members and friends.

Then she looked out her back door and saw a rifle-wielding officer standing on a brick wall and heard a yell announcing a suspect was on foot, which compelled her to scream: “Don’t shoot my son — he’s 16!”

“My son then runs up the stairs,” she said.

Officers had given chase to Garrett, who’d been found hiding behind a bush in the backyard, police said at the time.

He ran into a bathroom, where an officer said Garrett was seen tinkering with a gun, as if he was loading it, Metro spokesman Officer Jay Rivera said that night.

He didn’t comply with police orders and ran into a bedroom, police said. “A second later, a gunshot went off,” Brooks said.

The blast prompted the two officers to deem the incident a standoff and immediately clear the house, including Garrett’s family, and call SWAT officers, Rivera said.

Rivera said police made entry about four hours later, after failed attempts make contact with a suspect, which included not being able to safely look inside the room, which had the door locked. He was transported to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, where he died two days later.

Brooks contests the timeline, saying her son was hospitalized about seven hours after the shooting. She questioned how he could have grabbed a gun if they'd thoroughly had searched the house.

The lawsuit alleges that SWAT sent a police dog inside the room, where it dragged Garrett — who was already “incapacitated” — by his neck and face, Bryson said.

“Clearly it’s not the desired outcome that we had,” Rivera said in the briefing broadcast online. “We would have hoped that the negotiators would have been able to establish contact with him, would have been able to reason with him, and he would have come to his senses and come out peacefully,” he added. “That would have been the ideal outcome. Unfortunately that’s not what we had here tonight.”

Rivera initially said Garrett had died that night and that a gun had been found in close proximity his wounded body.

The six-part lawsuit, filed at the U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, alleges violations of civil rights, wrongful death, negligence, and negligent supervision and training. It seeks a monetary compensation of $7 million, including $2 million from an unidentified officer who “allowed the misconduct to occur,” Bryson said.

Metro spokesman Officer Aden OcampoGomez said Friday that the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

Bryson alleges Metro used “excessive and unreasonable force” against Garrett, who received delayed medical attention, which “led to his death,” he added.

Brooks said police treated her and her loved ones like “animals.” She alleged they told her Garrett wasn’t even inside the house, and would not tell her he was shot.

But from “down the street,” she could see her son on a stretcher with a “bandanna” around his head. “He had been shot in the head,” Brooks cried out.

Medics would not allow her into the ambulance, and police shut down the entrance to the hospital. Officers “had surrounded it like soldiers.” After an hour, she was finally allowed in, but couldn’t bring herself to see her wounded son, she said. Then she was kicked out, she alleges.

Since her son’s death, she’s had to deal with his young siblings asking every day when their older brother was coming home. The family has had to deal with the loss of a teenager, whom they described as smart, good at math, great with children, and an avid basketball player.

Garrett's loved ones cried throughout Friday's news conference. As Brooks welled up, one of her sisters took hold of her hand, as another gently wiped the tears away.