Gunned Down in Vegas: What Really Happened to Erik Scott?
An accomplished young man is killed by police outside a Vegas Costco, and bystander accounts starkly contrast with official reports.
September 16, 2010 - 12:00 am
Erik Scott was a West Point graduate, Army veteran, MBA graduate of Duke University, and a medical sales rep for Boston Scientific. He was gunned down by three Las Vegas police officers after they responded to a 911 call by Costco store employees reporting a man with a gun, possibly on narcotics, behaving erratically.
Scott was 38 years old, shopping with his girlfriend for items they needed as they moved in together. Unfortunately, those are the only details of the story on which anyone agrees.
To hear the side of the story presented by Scott’s family, friends, and some eyewitnesses, Erik Scott’s death was the result of ignorance and embellishment on the part of the Costco staff, and a combative, deterministic mindset from responding officers.
Other witnesses and the police claim that Eric Scott was armed and acting irrationally, and that his own actions led to his shooting.
What we know for certain is that Scott was in the camping section of the store taking bottles out of their packaging, attempting to determine how many of the bottles would fit in a cooler he was thinking of purchasing. At some point he bent over and his shirt rode up, exposing the pistol he had concealed at the small of his back.
A Costco employee saw the holstered sidearm and told Scott he was not allowed to have the weapon in the store. Scott replied that he had a permit and the right to carry his weapon. He then went back to shopping. The employee called over a manager, who informed a 20-something security guard, who made a 911 call to police.
We do not know precisely what was said in that important call, because the police have refused to release it. We do, however, know from police radio traffic picked up by a scanner that the guard had told police that Erik Scott was armed with a gun, was acting aggressively and erratically, and that he may have been under the influence of drugs.
It must have been a frightening tale: over a dozen police officers responded, along with a helicopter, ambulance, and competing incident command teams.
As the police began to form a massive perimeter outside, Costco managers began evacuating the entire store without apparently explaining why to anyone. As Scott and his girlfriend exited the store he was identified to police officers, who were waiting with guns drawn outside the front door.
A blog from Erik’s family described what happened next:
Erik turned to find three officers facing him, guns drawn, and all three shouting different commands: “Get on the ground!” “Drop your weapon!” “Keep your hands up!” Erik held his hands up, spoke calmly, told them he DID have a concealed firearm and a legal CCW and was an ex-Army officer. His girlfriend was screaming about Erik being a West Point grad, former Army officer, etc. Erik leaned to his left, hands still up, to expose the pistol, and repeated, “I am disarming; I am disarming.” Witnesses say he started to lower his right hand, palm OUT, perhaps intending to remove holster and gun together — but never got the hand below his shoulder, when one of the cops (believed to be William Mosher, who had committed a fatal shooting in 2006) shot Erik in the chest with a .45-caliber semi-automatic weapon. Erik dropped to his knees, clearly in shock, his face a picture of disbelief. He was shot a second time and collapsed. The rest is ugly. The three officers unloaded again, firing a total of seven hollow-point rounds. At least four, possibly five, hit Erik in the back, after he was on the ground and dying.
Two experts hired by Scott’s family examined his body. They claim that of the seven .45 ACP hollowpoint bullets fired into Scott’s body, one was fired through his armpit, suggesting his arm was raised at the time. Four remaining shots were fired into his back. There were no exit wounds, making it all but impossible for police to claim that investigators misread through-and-through wounds.