“Welcome to Vegas, where [white] cops can kill a defenseless [Black] human being, brag about it & get away scot free” - victim's mom.
From [HERE] A former Las Vegas police officer avoided a grand jury indictment Thursday, but the criminal case in the death of an unarmed Black man on the Strip might not be over.
On May 14, 2017, former Metropolitan Police Department officer Kenneth Lopera shocked Tashii Brown with a Taser seven times, punched him in the head repeatedly and placed him in a chokehold for more than a minute. Lopera’s case marked the first time in nearly three decades a Metropolitan Police Department officer has faced charges in connection with a police shooting or in-custody death. Both charges carry sentences of one to four years in prison.
Brown died after the encounter outside The Venetian. Lopera was arrested and retired from the force.
“Welcome to Vegas, where police can kill a defenseless human being, brag about it and then get away scot free,” Brown’s mother, Trinita Farmer, said in a statement. “I hope the public is as outraged as our family is at the killing of our son, father and brother.”
Lopera [in photo] bragged about his actions to other officers after the encounter, according to a federal lawsuit filed in May on Farmer’s behalf by attorney Andre Lagomarsino.
“Trinita wanted the maximum punishment to be applied to Kenneth Lopera for his actions that caused her son’s death,” Lagomarsino said. “She’s extremely disheartened that a grand jury that operates in secrecy would absolve Lopera of criminal liability.”
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson [racist suspect in photo below] told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that his office is “exploring further options.” Lopera still has pending criminal charges in Las Vegas Justice Court.
“We’re hopeful that the district attorney will accept the grand jury’s decision,” said David Roger, who represents Lopera in the criminal case.
Lopera is due back in court Aug. 2.
Brown, a 40-year-old Las Vegas resident, died by asphyxia due to police restraint, the Clark County coroner’s office said. Methamphetamine use and an enlarged heart contributed to his death, which the coroner’s office ruled a homicide.
Body camera footage shows Lopera chased Brown through The Venetian and outside, where the former officer said he suspected Brown was trying to steal a truck.
That’s when the fatal encounter occurred.
The district attorney’s office charged Lopera with involuntary manslaughter and oppression under color of office last year, but in March the case was referred to a grand jury. District attorneys are reluctant to prosecute officers because the two agencies work so closely, Los Angeles-based civil rights attorney Lisa Holder said. As a result, district attorneys tend to prosecute officers only when they are “extremely confident” in the case, she said. But here, Wolfson flip-flopped. White DA's are reluctant to prosecute white cops who kill Blacks & Latinos. What is white collective power?
Steve Grammas, president of the union that represents Metro’s rank-and-file officers, said Lopera never intended to kill Brown.
Grammas said the defense argued that Brown’s enlarged heart and drug use, coupled with the totality of the event, caused his death - not the chokehold.
“The grand jury saw it the same way, that Ken Lopera did not kill this man,” he said.
Lopera's legal and union representatives gave the grand jury the results of a defense investigation, including testimony from medical and police use-of-force experts, and a former mixed martial arts fighter.
Lopera was dismissed from the police department last September after police said he violated department use-of-force policies.
Another white police officer on the scene told officer Kenneth Lopera to release his chokehold on Tashii Brown, but the officer continued his hold for another 46 seconds, a Metropolitan Police Department report on the officer’s arrest shows.
Lopera places Brown in a chokehold 2 minutes and 58 seconds into the struggle, the report shows.
“Is he out yet?” the officer asks 15 seconds later. He then repeats the question twice.
Another officer arrives on the scene 3 minutes and 25 seconds into the struggle.
“Let him go, Ken,” the officer is heard saying.
“Are you sure?” Lopera said.
“Yeah,” the officer replies 3 minutes and 26 seconds into the struggle. Lopera released the hold on Brown at 4 minutes and 11 seconds, the report shows.
The exchange between the two officers can be heard clearly when the sound from previously released body camera footage is enhanced.
Brown initially approached Lopera and another uniformed officer having coffee about 1 a.m. May 14 inside The Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South. The arrest report shows he was sweaty and told the officers it was because he had run from people who were chasing him.
He asked the officers if they knew the location of a drinking fountain, and he ran off when Lopera tried to grab him. Lopera then inexplicably fervently chased the man out of the hotel - as if he had committed a crime and ordered him to stop. [Under arrest or seized for what crime at this point? Under arrest for Sweating? In order for the police to stop you the Supreme Court has ruled that police must have reasonable articulable suspicion that there is criminal activity afoot and the person detained is involved in the activity. Clearly, these rules are only intended for white people.]
During the chase Officer Lopera, who caught up to Mr. Farmer behind the hotel, said he believed Farmer was trying to carjack a pickup truck. As he ran behind him, the Loopera later claimed he saw Farmer try to open the tailgate and then driver’s side door of a truck parked near the rear of the property.and stunned him with a Taser when he saw the man trying to open the tailgate of a truck parked near the property’s rear.
The arrest report shows the men in the truck did not feel threatened by Brown and notes Lopera did not have “reasonable suspicion or probable cause” to chase him. The video also does not appear to show Farmer touching the car. He appears to run past the vehicle. He is about 10 feet from the vehicle when the cop orders him to stop and when the first stun gunshot comes. [MORE]
Lopera stunned Brown with a Taser seven times — engaging the stun gun for five seconds six times and for nine seconds the final time, the report shows. Police Department policies are to use the Taser three times, for five seconds each cycle, and then move on to another type of force.
The Taser’s prongs attached to Brown’s lower back, causing “neuromuscular incapacitation” that would have made it difficult for Brown to move, the report shows.
Throughout the encounter, Lopera was screaming at Brown to get on his stomach so he could be handcuffed. But the longest time between stuns was six seconds, so Brown never had a reasonable opportunity to do so. The arrest report also notes that Brown was positioned on his stomach several times as the officer yelled at him to comply.
Lopera’s commands also contradicted each other. He told the man, “don’t move” and “get on your stomach.” The report also notes that several
commands for Brown to lie on his stomach were issued while Brown was on his stomach.
Brown was struck in the head 10 to 12 times after he was stunned with a Taser, even though he was not displaying aggressive resistance. Detectives investigating the case concluded the man was trying to pull the Taser prongs out of his back, trying to avoid being handcuffed and protecting his face from the punches, the report shows.
The report first describes the chokehold the officer used on Brown as the lateral vascular neck restraint, the only neck hold allowed under Metro policies, but later describes it as a rear naked choke based on statements Lopera made to other officers after the struggle.
“I tased him, fought a little bit and choked him out,” Lopera told an officer.
A lawyer for the Las Vegas Police Protection Association, the Metro officers’ union, stopped Lopera from giving detectives a walk-through of events that night. The union bailed out Lopera from jail for $6,000 immediately after he was booked into the Clark County Detention Center and defended him through the case. [MORE]
The report obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal last year details numerous violations of department policies and training, beginning when the officer first began to chase Brown, also known as Tashii Farmer, on the night of May 14. Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said Monday that the department would arrest one of its own on charges of involuntary manslaughter and oppression under the color of office in connection with Brown’s death
The officer chased Brown through restricted employee hallways and outside the Venetian resort, where video from the officer's body camera and casino security views showed Lopera using a stun gun on Brown seven times, punching him more than 10 times and putting him in what police supervisors called an unapproved chokehold for 73 seconds.
Brown's death spawned protests and a federal excessive force and wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Brown's children.
Sheriff Joe Lombardo, elected head of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, changed policies to stop routine use of neck holds.
The grand jury decision still leaves the prosecutor with several options in a state that moves felony cases from local to state courts either through grand jury action or by a judge's decision after a preliminary hearing.
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson's office could ask for a local judge to hold a preliminary hearing or he could drop the criminal charges. That would let him air the case in a public forum used after police-involved deaths.
Wolfson could refile charges if new information emerges in that non-court venue.
Wolfson has not said how he will proceed.
"I would like for the public to eventually learn all the information and all the evidence," he told The Associated Press.
He plans to meet with Trinita Farmer's lawyer, Andre Lagomarsino, who said he wants a judge to hold a preliminary hearing, or he'll ask the FBI to take over the case.
"We believe it's a civil rights violation," the attorney said. "Trinita Farmer wants Kenneth Lopera prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Roxann McCoy, president of the NAACP in Las Vegas, said the public is entitled to see the evidence that led the grand jury to reject criminal charges.
"I'm very, very curious as to what they saw that we didn't," McCoy said. "I don't know why, when it's a black man, there's always a reason — no matter what we see — that there's something he did to cause his own death."