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Bodycam Video: Nevada Deputy Unnecessarily Shoots Pet Dog; Jokes “Maybe I’ll Get Time Off Now!”

Nye County Nevada Pahrump Dog ShootingOn April 10th, Deputy John Tolle of the Nye County Sheriff’s Office responded to what turned out to be a false panic alarm at a residence in Pahrump, NV. (Located just Northwest of Las Vegas.) Soon after Deputy Tolle entered the fenced in yard of that residence and knocked on the door, he shot the pet dog of the owner. According to Tolle, that dog, a pit bull named Blu, was barking, growling, and attacking him at the time. So, obviously he had no choice but to shoot it.

However, Deputy Tolle was wearing a body camera at the time and the footage from that camera tells a completely different story. While the dog does come running from the back of the house much like any dog would when a stranger enters its yard, it never appears to attack Tolle or even try to on the video. Rather than charging toward him “full on, growling and snarling,” as he described, the dog’s action would more properly be described as a quick jog without any sort of aggression being shown at all.

In addition to the discrepancies in Tolle’s description of the shooting of the dog, the body camera footage also highlights numerous issues with the way he responded to the call from the start. Had Deputy Tolle followed proper procedure regarding those issues, he would have never been in a position to shoot Blu in the first place. Among other things, Tolle never tried to contact the owner, Gary Miller, prior to entering the gate of the fence surrounding the yard. Nor does he check first to find out if there is a dog within that yard. Both of those precautions would have prevented any perceived confrontation with Blu from happening.

Furthermore, once the dog was approaching Deputy Tolle he never attempted to use any non lethal deterrents prior to shooting it. As of 2015, state mandated (NRS 289.595) law enforcement training is required to include a course on how to handle situations involving encounters with dogs. Part of that training is that non-lethal methods, such as tasers, batons, or mace, be used prior to resorting to deadly force. Tolle had every one of those options available at the time and never even attempted to use them. There was even enough time after the dog had initially barked for Tolle to simply walk back out of the gate, had he chose to do so. Instead, he just shot the dog and then lied about it attacking him to try and justify having done so.

This video is also pretty telling in relation to the mindset and attitudes of the officers involved. Beyond the simple act of unnecessarily killing the dog and then lying to rationalize it, Deputy Tolle’s body camera also caught a few other things afterwards. First, as an unnamed detective and Tolle’s supervisor, Sergeant Deutsch, discuss the shooting with him, they can be heard making disparaging remarks about Miller and joking about him being angry because his dog was shot.

Deputy Tolle really takes the cake when he is informed that he will have to fill out a “use of force” form for the incident. His response is to break out in laughter and state, “Maybe I’ll get time off now!” It’s almost like getting a free paid vacation is in the forefront of police officers’ minds when they kill.

In the end, the Nye County Sheriff’s Office quickly cleared Deputy Tolle after assigning him to take a 24 hour training course (that presumably teaches cops not to murder non-threatening dogs). Meanwhile, Gary Miller was disrespected even more when the animal shelter cremated his beloved pet without even notifying him first. They then added insult to injury later when they brought him ashes that they claimed were Blu’s, but that were in fact not from his dog. (It’s not clear where the “fake ashes” actually came from. However, unlike Tolle, the animal control officer responsible has been suspended, as a result.)

Full Unedited Body Camera Video

Local News Coverage

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Police Violence and Gentrification in Las Vegas

Ballentine speaking during the May Day march in 2012

Ballentine speaking during the May Day march in 2012

Note: This was originally posted by   at the Seattle Free Press on . I’ve added a picture of Ballentine, who wrote this essay, made the original first sentence a section header, and added a caption to the picture that originally accompanied the Seattle Free Press’ post.

Otherwise, it has been reposted in its entirety as it originally appeared, which you can view here. Ballentine is one of the three members of the Sunset Activist Collective (along with Gail Sacco, who is not a member but has been a long time associate and supporter of both the Sunset Activist Collective and Nevada Cop Block, as well as other local activist groups, such as Food Not Bombs Las Vegas) that filed a lawsuit against the LVMPD over the August 2013 arrests of four people associated with Nevada Cop Block last week.

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Trevon Cole’s family attending the Coroner’s Inquest for his murder by Bryan Yant

I never knew Trevon Cole. I have never met his girlfriend, and, like Trevon Cole himself, I have never met his child. This is because he was murdered by Officer Bryan Yant of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department during a drug raid.

Cole, unarmed, was shot in front his girlfriend while on his knees in his bathroom. His girlfriend, Sequoia, gave birth to a baby girl only five days later.

The pig that shot Trevon Cole was punished with a desk assignment. Cole was the third fatal shooting he was involved in.

I shouldn’t even know who Trevon Cole is. I shouldn’t know about Stanley Gibson, a gulf war vet who accidentally went to his old apartment building one night by mistake and paid for it with his life. Officer Jesus Arevello put 7 rounds from an assault rifle into Gibson’s head.

Stanley, like Cole, was unarmed. He and his car were boxed in, unable to be a danger to anyone.

In the last 10 years over 150 people have been shot by the Las Vegas police. A dozen stories I have heard detailing unarmed people shot by the police, some in cold blood.

Erik Scott was armed but by most accounts was not holding the pistol he was legally entitled to carry when he was shot outside a crowded wholesale super market. The police tried to blame his murder on prescription drugs and the store’s security camera footage was mysteriously never found.

Adding fuel to fires of police violence are businesses in the are which encourage a larger police presence downtown.

The Zappos Shoe Corporation, for example, has duped the local government into letting them “revitalize” the downtown area. Working with the city’s blessing and assistance, the company is spearheading gentrification in the area many of us have lived our whole lives in.

The media of course promotes this effort as though Zappos were some prophetic savior, come to rid us of the “dirty” and “unsafe” downtown, and, as usual, the police are front and center in this mafia-style protection racket.

Companies with more than one hundred patrons are now required by law to hire Las Vegas Police Officers as security, to aid in cleaning up the downtown corridor.

Of course, we don’t need corporations like Zappos to save our city.

We don’t want them having the ear of the mayor.

We don’t need the police to patrol our neighborhoods and escort Zappos employees to their cars after work because “they’re scared to be downtown.”

I am of the opinion that the police are an occupying force doing the bidding of the corporate state. And if you protect the rich, then you should be counted among them, as their willing puppet. Anyone with this desire is in effect the bloodied arm of the corporate overlords with its hand clasped around the throat of the people.

Small response to a big problem:

In response to the Gibson shooting, we in the Sunset Activist Collective created a list of demands against the city and the police department which listed, amongst other things, justice and compensation to the families of the murdered, resignations of the district attorney as well as that of Sheriff Doug Gillespie.

We called for an end to the militarization of the police force, who are now equipped with AR-15 rifles and an armored car that they proudly displayed during the last two MLK day parades.

We demanded an end to the tactic of “neighborhood saturation” which pours dangerous, steroid-amped police freshly home from Iraq and Afghanistan into the poorest neighborhoods and leaves the affluent suburbs pig-free.

Part of our outreach has included “chalking” against the Clark County Government Center, the county seat of authority and the main police head quarters a short distance away.

A few times a month, we sweat in the cold. We write the stories of victims most of us never knew.

As I took a bruised knee, dirtying my work pants to write “F@@K Pigs” upside down so that those pigs could read it from their office window, I notice Rhonda Gibson looking down and reading it. She doesn’t seem to mind the language.

I hope these actions help her cope with her loss, and give her some sense that not everyone is awful. Writing like mad on the sidewalk.

So, if you ever find yourself in Las Vegas, you might take a moment to ignore the neon and look down at your feet. The sidewalk is our horizontal, traveling monument to the victims of police repression.

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Free Screening of “If a Tree Falls” Sept. 12th in Las Vegas

September's Radical Movie Night Features a Free Screening of "If a Tree Falls"
September’s Radical Movie Night Features a Free Screening of “If a Tree Falls”

Sept. “Radical Movie Night”

September 12th marks the debut of Las Vegas’ own Radical Movie Night, hosted by the Sunset Activist Collective, co- Sponsored by Nevada Cop Block and Food Not Bombs Las Vegas, and officially endorsed by the Las Vegas A-Cafe. This will be a monthly free showing of either a documentary or a movie with significant social value. The main purpose of Radical Movie Nights will be to connect local community members and encourage active participation within the local community by those within it to promote and empower those wishing to make positive grassroots-based improvements where they live and within their personal workplaces.

The location where Radical Movie Nights will take place is The Sci Fi Center, which many locals already know from its longstanding tradition for showing independent movies and cult classics that are often not available in a large screen setting. (Disclaimer: the Sci Fi Center is not actually involved in the Radical Movie Nights, outside of permitting us to use it as a venue for showing movies.)

In order to coincide with actions against the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (for more info about the AETA and local actions in response to it, see:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/07/animal-enterprise-terrorism-act_n_5659893.html) beginning in September, the first movie that will be shown is ” If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front,” a documentary about the Earth Liberation Front, in general, and one of its members, Daniel G. McGowan, who was characterized as a terrorist by the US government after his arrest for environmental activism actions, in particular.

Radical Movie Nights in Las Vegas will take place every second Friday at the Sci Fi Center

Radical Movie Nights in Las Vegas will take place every second Friday at the Sci Fi Center

The movie, which was nominated for an Academy  Award and won numerous other awards, shows the history and personal reasons why those involved in the ELF actions did what they did and how they became “radicalized,” during previous less militant actions. In addition it addresses issues involving the declaring activists, who never actually harmed or ever tried to harm people, terrorists, based solely on property damage.

However, it also interviews and discusses the perspective of the targets of those actions and the effects they had on them. As a result, it is a fairly even handed presentation of the facts involved, which allows viewers to decide for themselves who was right or wrong and why.

 

About the Movie (via http://www.ifatreefallsfilm.com/):

“In December 2005, Daniel McGowan was arrested by Federal agents in a nationwide sweep of radical environmentalists involved with the Earth Liberation Front– a group the FBI has called America’s “number one domestic terrorism threat.”

For years, the ELF—operating in separate anonymous cells without any central leadership—had launched spectacular arsons against dozens of businesses they accused of destroying the environment: timber companies, SUV dealerships, wild horse slaughterhouses, and a $12 million ski lodge at Vail, Colorado.

With the arrest of Daniel and thirteen others, the government had cracked what was probably the largest ELF cell in America and brought down the group responsible for the very first ELF arsons in this country.

IF A TREE FALLS: A STORY OF THE EARTH LIBERATION FRONT tells the remarkable story of the rise and fall of this ELF cell, by focusing on the transformation and radicalization of one of its members.

Part coming-of-age tale, part cops-and-robbers thrilller, the film interweaves a verite chronicle of Daniel on house arrest as he faces life in prison, with a dramatic recounting of the events that led to his involvement with the group. And along the way it asks hard questions about environmentalism, activism, and the way we define terrorism.

Drawing from striking archival footage — much of it never before seen — and intimate interviews with ELF members, and with the prosecutor and detective who were chasing them, IF A TREE FALLS explores the tumultuous period from 1995 until early 2001 when environmentalists were clashing with timber companies and law enforcement, and the word “terrorism” had not yet been altered by 9/11.”

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