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
Metro Police Captain Patrick Neville claimed a different series of events, based in part on the 911 call that police have not released:
I could clearly hear the officers giving commands to the individual to get him on the ground, hear people yelling and screaming in the background. You could hear the shots being fired. When you listen to that, it definitely sends a chill down your spine.
There are no commands or communications between Erik Scott and police captured on a nine-minute audiotape during which the shooting occurred. Officers not directly in front of the store are heard over the radio establishing a perimeter and trying to block off access to the store’s parking lot. The first indication Scott and the police have made contact is when a officer breaks in to call “shots fired” after Scott is on the ground, already dying or dead.
In another interview, Captain Neville claimed Scott did not listen to police commands:
He does not comply with that order. He reaches for the weapon, pulls the weapon out … uh, at which time the weapon was out of the waistband, the officers — three officers — discharged their weapons.
Others on the scene did not see it that way. Robert Garcia directly conflicts the reports of police:
I was close enough to see this guy’s face, and to see his hands, and to see his body go down.
Walking just ten feet in front of Erik Scott, Garcia exited the Costco to see officers with guns drawn. He heard an officer yell: “Put it down! Get down!”
Then he claims four shots were fired, and he instantly turned towards the victim:
After hearing the shots I see the guy going down. I looked at — I saw his hands. His hands had no gun in it. I looked on the ground because — just, I just did that. I looked down and I didn’t see a gun. I saw what I thought were maybe sunglasses. And a pen.
This matches up with several other eyewitness claims that officers William Mosher, Joshua Stark, and Thomas Mendiola fired nearly immediately after shouting conflicting commands at Scott, giving him little or no time to respond. Four other witnesses within 20 feet of the store’s entrance all agree that Scott never brandished a weapon or made a move that could be interpreted as brandishing a weapon.
A coroner’s inquest is to be held next week, but the outcome seems foreordained. In the past 34 years, only one Metro officer has ever been found to have acted improperly out of at least 190 inquests, and that officer wasn’t charged with a crime.
For the record, the Costco did not have signs posted prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons. Scott did not violate any laws in carrying his weapon in the store. It is quite possible that Erik Scott was gunned down without having committed so much as a misdemeanor crime, and that the officers who shot him will be merely the latest exonerated in a long line from an apparently unaccountable police force.