It’s been two weeks since three Las Vegas Metro cops shot and killed 38-year-old West Point graduate Erik Scott as he exited a Costco store in the upscale suburb of Summerlin on July 10.
So far, the incident has generated more questions than answers.
If officials lock up the evidence so you can’t get the answers, print the questions.
Erik Scott had a permit; he could legally carry a firearm either open OR concealed.
Any Nevadan can carry a gun openly on the hip, no permit required. It’s a right. Mr. Scott was under no obligation to demonstrate a “need” to carry his firearms to the store (as some letter-writers have suggested), any more than you must demonstrate a “need” to go to church more than once a week, if you so choose. 9-1-1 operators called because a Nevadan is carrying a gun in a holster should respond the same way as if someone calls in a free-roaming coyote: “Just moved here recently, have we? This is an open carry state, dear; get used to it.”
Nor do I agree with those who would say, if police a shot up a luncheon meeting of the Jaycees or the Rotary Club, that “Cops are getting edgy in this town; people are just going to have to be more cautious about how they exercise their right to assemble.”
Apparently Mr. Scott, who was shopping with his girlfriend, broke the plastic wrap on a carton of bottled water so he could check to see if the bottles would fit in his backpack. He shouldn’t have done that. But is it a capital crime?
If I go to Costco with a perfectly legal gun in a holster, either concealed or open, even though I never present my weapon or threaten anyone with it, will employees there call the police, report a “crazy man with a gun,” and have me killed?
Talk about “customer relations”! How many front-door ambushes (complete with fake bomb scares to beat the game under the hunters’ guns) do you have to set up to win “employee of the month”?
Will the 9-1-1 operator closely question such a caller, asking, “Wait a minute, this is important: Do you mean there’s a man who’s behaving oddly and he’s brandishing a firearm, threatening people with a firearm? Or do you mean there’s a man who’s behaving oddly, and you’ve noticed he’s carrying a handgun in a holster, which is perfectly legal? This is a real important distinction for me to be able to explain to the officers we’re sending”?
I hope the 9-1-1 operator in the Erik Scott bottled-water killing asked that question; they ought to be trained to ask that question. The Review-Journal has tried to get the recordings of the 9-1-1 calls to find out, but the G-men won’t release them.
I also can’t find the part of the state or U.S. Constitution that says “You can be killed at any time for failing to obey a policeman’s order,” even though letter-writers keep telling me it’s in there.
Will only one officer give me orders? Or will all three shout conflicting orders in order to confuse me, especially if I was recently in a traffic accident and my doctor has me on painkillers that already make me a little fuzzy, as was reportedly the case with Erik Scott?
Will they have their guns out and leveled at me, at that point? If I point a firearm at someone it’s considered to be a crime, called “assault.” If I shoot a police officer simply because he puts his hand on the butt of his sidearm while it’s still in the holster, I’ll go to prison (at best.) How come cops don’t go to prison if they shoot someone simply for touching a gun? I suppose people will say, “You’re not in danger if a policeman puts his hand on his gun, because they don’t go around shooting people.”
How many this year, Sheriff Gillespie? Trevor Cole, unarmed, got shot in the head with a combat rifle while kneeling on his bathroom floor with his hands up. The charge? Selling an ounce or two of pot.
Why not arrest him on the street? Why put his nine-month-pregnant girlfriend at risk? Did some sloppy police work allow the author of the warrant to claim Cole had a violent criminal record, when he really didn’t? Was that work done by an officer who’d already shot and killed other suspects, and told stories that didn’t match the physical evidence?
How about if we count people like Ivan Carrillo, an apparent drunk driver killed when his car was rammed by a Metro police cruiser on May 20? Isn’t that a lethal use of force? How come there’s been no coroner’s inquest in that death?
If the police tell me to put my gun down on the ground, and I reach down to remove my holster from my belt or waistband so I can follow that order, will they shoot and kill me for following that order, later explaining they had to shoot me because I didn’t follow one of their other, simultaneous orders — to put my hands up, to lie down, to do any number of things that can’t all be done at once?We don’t know whether that’s what happened outside the Costco on July 10, because Metro hasn’t released the Costco video disc. Some of it may be shown to a coroner’s jury on Sept. 3, the first day of the long Labor Day holiday weekend, in a little courtroom downtown holding about 46 people.
Maybe. If it isn’t “lost or damaged.”
Oh, was that gratuitous? I don’t think so. After Officer George Pease killed Henry Rowe by slashing his throat, Metro said tests of both men’s clothing would reveal whether Rowe grabbed the officer’s gun and shot at him in the dark, like officer Pease said. But when they got to the coroner’s inquest, Metro said it hadn’t bothered to have those tests performed, since they would have been “costly and inconclusive.”
Yeah. Good one. And don’t even get me started on the “justifiable” killings by Southwest 11’s “Baby’s Daddy Removal Team,” which always seem to cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece when they finally, quietly settle the civil suits. Can I at least have one of the T-shirts? Has Officer Bryan Yant, who most recently notched his gun with Trevor Cole, been issued his?
If I show up for that Sept. 3 inquest, will I find my entrance blocked by two armed bailiffs, maybe even shaved-heads K.P. Ross and Sgt. R. Wright, who will rest their hands on the butts of their Glock .40s and tell me “It’s not open to the public,” the way they did when I tried to attend the Henry Prendes inquest, in March of 2006?
Why do they not let us in the room, even after we’ve let them disarm us? Why does the hearing master then state for the record that any member of the public is free to come forward with any new evidence — when they know darn well the bailiffs are turning the public away, telling them “It’s not open to the public,” even when there are empty seats?
Do they think we’re going to shoot them during the inquest? Isn’t that a bit paranoid? Why don’t they just hold the inquest in a big, 500-seat auditorium or theater, somewhere, and let anyone in?
What are they afraid of, with their carefully arranged dog-and-pony show, presenting only the evidence selected by the government, with no cross examination, and then instructing jurors so they later say they felt they had no choice but a finding of “justifiable,” even if they believe the officer in question should never be allowed back on the street, as was the case when Bruce Gentner emptied his pistol magazine at John Perrin, armed only with a basketball?
Will it ever be time to tell Metro’s cowboys to go join some other rodeo?