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Tashii Brown’s Mother Calls For Murder Charge Against Las Vegas Cop At “What Happened in Vegas” Screening

Tashii Farmer Brown Family Mother Trinita What Happened in Vegas ScreeningLast week, following a screening of “What Happened in Vegas,” Tashii Farmer-Brown‘s mother, Trenita Farmer, addressed the media in attendance. The statement, quoted below, represents the first time that Brown’s family had spoken publicly since he was murdered in May (2017) by Las Vegas Police at the Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip.

Over 200 people attended the July 20th screening at the Anthem Film Festival, which is part of Freedom Fest inside the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The screening was very well received (it was later awarded the film festival’s grand prize) and the majority of those people stayed for the press conference. In addition, a question and answer panel followed featuring director Ramsey Denison, producer Randy Wiles, and Neill Franklin of LEAP.

Las Vegas Metro LVMPD Police State ChalkDuring the screening, Trinita and other members of Brown’s family left the room after becoming emotional and were unable to watch the film. There were others in the audience, including family members of other people featured in it, that also began crying. The four cases that “What Happened in Vegas” focuses on, those of Brown, Trevon Cole, Erik Scott, and Stanley Gibson, are some of the most controversial killings by police in the history of Las Vegas.

Tashii Brown’s murder, which was caught on both Lopera’s body camera and casino surveillance footage, was so graphic and so obviously unnecessary that his story was added to the video just prior to this screening. In the months since, Lopera’s actions and the response of the LVMPD’s leadership has been questioned heavily, both locally and nationally.

As is typical for crimes committed by their officers, Metro immediately began attempting to blame the victim by smearing Brown’s character. Also, even though Officer Lopera eventually became the first Las Vegas area police officer to be charged with a crime as a result of killing someone while on duty, he was only charged with Involuntary Manslaughter.

Within her statement, Farmer addressed that low level charge and called for Clark County District Attorney Steve to charge Lopera with the appropriate one. While she didn’t specify it herself, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out that the crime Officer Kenneth Lopera committed that day was murder.

Here is the full text of Trinita Farmer’s statement. Below that is video of the press conference.

“I’d like to thank everybody for coming today. I’m happy that the police officer that killed my son has been charged, but it’s not enough. If it was a regular person, a citizen, they wouldn’t have been so lenient on them. Because it was an officer, he was given special treatment. I call on District Attorney Wolfson to re-examine the case and charge this officer appropriately.

Tashii was my heart. He was a good son, a good father. And he had a lot of dreams. They never gave him a chance. He didn’t deserve this. I thank you guys for coming.”

Statement by Tashii Brown’s Mother Trinita Farmer

Tashii Brown’s Mother and “What Happened in Vegas” Q&A Panel Discussion

On May 14th, Tashii Brown was beaten, tased at least seven times, and then choked to death by LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera. Brown had approached Lopera and another officer inside the Venetian Casino asking for help, stating he thought someone was chasing him. Instead of receiving that help, he was treated like a suspect by the officers, then chased into a parking area after he became afraid and tried to run away.

The choke hold that Ofc. Lopera used to kill Brown was not authorized by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, nor is use of a taser more than four times. Metro has also publicly admitted that Brown was not suspected of any crime at the time and in fact would not have been charged with a crime had he survived Lopera’s attack.

Therefore, Lopera had no legal reason to detain him in the first place. At the time that he began illegally choking him, Brown was also already being held down by at least two hotel security guards and did not represent a threat to anyone. Officer Lopera also refused to relinquish that “rear naked” choke hold when other officers that arrived at the scene told him to.

Body Cam Video of Tashii Farmer-Brown Murder by Officer Kenneth Lopera

“What Happened in Vegas” Trailer

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“What Happened in Vegas” Didn’t Stay in Las Vegas; Police Brutality Documentary Premiers at Cinequest

Last week on March 4th, “What Happened in Vegas” had its world premier to rave reviews at the Cinequest Film Festival, which is held annually in San Jose, CA. (This year there were also additional screenings held in Redwood City.) The documentary by Ramsey Denison is primarily focused on three very questionable shootings of Las Vegas residents by members of the LVMPD (AKA “Metro”) and the lack of any resulting consequences for the officers involved in those killings.

Within Las Vegas all three cases were very prominent incidents that received widespread local coverage and generated significant criticisms against the LVMPD and their handling of them. The inadequacies of the investigations into the questions surrounding those cases and outright cover-ups, as well as the reasons behind them also play a major role in the film.

Trevon Cole and Bryan Yant

The first case featured in the movie is that of Trevon Cole, who was caught on camera selling a very small amount of marijuana to an LVMPD detective. Cole very easily could have been arrested right then or at virtually any other time he stepped out of his house and there was no indication that Cole was or would become violent.

Instead, in order to create a dramatic confrontation intended to be used in a proposed reality show the LVMPD was hoping to create, they decided to conduct a full SWAT raid on his apartment. During that raid, Sgt. Bryan Yant, who had intentionally used falsified information from another person (that actually lived in Texas) with the same name as Cole to attain the search warrant, shot Cole in the head with an AR-15 in front of his pregnant girlfriend, while Trevon was on his knees in the bathroom.

Later, in an attempt to justify their actions, Metro police officers showed up at the house belonging to Cole’s in-laws, where his girlfriend, who was literally within days of having their baby, was staying. They then conducted an illegal search of Cole’s belongings hoping to find something that would incriminate him and provide justifications for the murder.

Not only was nobody held accountable in any way whatsoever for the falsified search warrant, the illegal search afterwards, or the murder itself, Bryan Yant, for whom this was his third deadly shooting, was recently hired by the Las Vegas Police Protective Association as the union representative that advises police officers when they are involved in shootings.

Erik Scott and Costco’s (Conveniently) Malfunctioning Camera

The second and most well known case featured in the movie is that of Erik Scott, who was shot by LVMPD Officers William Mosher, Joshua Stark, and Thomas Mendiola as he walked out of a Costco located in a suburb of Las Vegas known as Summerlin. The original reason that the police were called was because an employee at the Costco had noticed that Scott was wearing a holster under his shirt. Erik Scott was legally registered to carry the concealed weapon that he was armed with that day. However, Costco has a policy against firearms within their stores. After having a discussion about that with Scott, a Costco security guard, Shai Lierley, called Metro and reportedly exaggerated his behavior. (Erik had asserted his legal right to be armed, but had not acted in a threatening manner.)

After an evacuation order was given at the store, Lierley pointed Scott out to Mosher, Stark, and Mendiola. Those officers then proceeded to give contradictory, confusing, and aggressive orders to Scott. Shortly after, Mosher shot Scott and after he had already fallen to the ground Stark and Mendiola followed suit firing numerous rounds into his body as he lay already mortally wounded.

Like most large retail stores, that Costco location had security cameras throughout the inside and outside of the store. One of those was situated where it should have recorded the entire confrontation. By some amazing “coincidence” that one surveillance camera just happened to be malfunctioning that day and all the footage from that specific time was unrecoverable.

In the movie, Erik Scott’s father, Bill, also describes how the police soon realized that a report by the EMT in the ambulance that transported Erik to the hospital where he was pronounced dead had noted that there was a gun on his body still within the holster. the problem with that was that the police had at some point retrieved that gun and placed it at the scene of the shooting to corroborate their story that Scott had pulled his gun as a justification for it. The next day, even after they were denied permission to do so by Erik’s brother, who lived with him at the time, Metro officers conducted an illegal search on his apartment under the pretense of securing his property. Not long after, the narrative became that Scott had actually been carrying two guns at the time of the shooting.

As was the case with those involved in the Trevon Cole murder, Erik Scott’s killing was ruled justified. In fact, Mosher and Stark were given awards for bravery during the murder of Scott shortly afterwards. (Mendiola had been fired by that point for giving a gun to a felon.) Both of them are still employed with the LVMPD.

Stanley Gibson and Jesus Arevalo

The third case featured in the movie is that of Stanley Gibson, a Gulf War veteran who had cancer and PTSD, both of which were caused by his military service. Partially as a result of his medication being cut off by the Veteran’s Administration and partly because of the effects of the cancer on his memory, Gibson entered the wrong apartment complex after having just moved. Police were called after someone saw him attempting to open the door to the apartment he thought was his and soon after they had blocked his car in inside the parking lot.

In spite of the fact that Gibson’s car was completely blocked in by two unoccupied police cars (see embedded video below) and would not have been able to move, the police at the scene decided they could not simply wait him out. Instead, they concocted a plan to break out Gibson’s back window with a bean bag round and then shoot pepper spray into the car (which is against Metro’s policy) to force Gibson, who at the time was unresponsive, to come out of it. However, once the bean bag round was fired, Officer Jesus Arevalo fired seven times with his personal AR-15, later claiming that he thought the firing of the bean bag round was Gibson shooting at them.

While the investigation was still ongoing Arevalo’s soon to be ex-wife was recorded stating that, among other things, he had said before Gibson’s killing that he wanted to shoot someone so he could get paid time off, had referred to Gibson using a racial slur and expressing disdain for him, and had bragged about how fast he was able to fire off those seven rounds. Not surprisingly though, Stanley Gibson’s shooting, like every other police shooting in the entire history of the city of Las Vegas was ruled justified. Not only that but Arevalo was placed on disability as a result of stress from the shooting and given a monthly payment of $23,000 to $28,000 (plus cost of living increases) for the rest of his life.

Beaten and Arrested for Reporting Police Brutality

Several other non-fatal incidents are also featured in the movie, including an unarmed and innocent man who was shot at a local 7-11 after he was mistook for a murder suspect and a man who used a hidden GoPro camera to film himself being assaulted and falsely arrested by a “saturation team” after he refused to provide ID as a passenger at a traffic stop (which he legally was not required to do). The video in the latter case also captured audio and video of those officers stating as they searched his car that they “had to find something” to justify his arrest, after the fact.

The other incident featured within the movie is director Ramsey Denison’s own arrest by Las Vegas Police Officers Mark Belanger, Kyle Frett, and Jared Casper. While on vacation in Vegas, Ramsey saw those three officers both verbally and physically abusing a man they had already taken into custody and successfully handcuffed.

Not having seen that type of behavior from cops before and having a positive opinion of the police from working on “true-crime” shows as a film editor in Los Angeles, Denison made the rookie mistake of calling 911 and reporting the officers. The 911 operator responded by calling Belanger, Frett, and Casper to let them know someone had called to report misconduct by them. They then promptly came over and beat, then arrested, Denison.

Later, both the supervisor who had responded to Denison’s 911 complaint and the Internal Affairs “investigators” rubber stamped their approval of his treatment by the trio of Metro officers. Also not terribly surprisingly, he was later told that none of the cameras at the club where his assault took place were turned on that night, effectively precluding him from being able to file a lawsuit to attain some sort of justice. That, along with his experience in the jail and during court, prompted Denison to begin looking into the history of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and eventually to make “What Happened in Vegas.

Shining a Light on the Darkness within the LVMPD

Ramsey contacted me a couple months after his arrest, which was also not long after I and several other members of Nevada Cop Block were arrested for the ridiculous charge of graffiti (and even more ridiculous “conspiracy” charges) for writing with chalk on public sidewalks during protests over the murder of Stanley Gibson, whom I was friends with in high school, and Metro’s many other victims, including Erik Scott and Trevon Cole.

After meeting with him and getting the feeling that he was genuine in his intentions, I agreed on doing an interview, much of which was included in the movie. Also, while I was limited on what I could discuss about our arrests for chalking, due to lawsuits we had filed (which are still active to this day) as a result, that is discussed in general terms within the film. In addition, several scenes shot of me chalking were included in the movie.

Due to the connections I had built working with Nevada Cop Block and during those demonstrations, I was able to point Denison toward several people within Las Vegas that I felt would potentially be helpful, including some who knew or were related to Erik Scott, Trevon Cole, and Stanley Gibson. I’m happy to say that Ramsey did a great job of seeking those people out, building trust with them, and presenting them in a convincing, professional, and impactful way within the movie.

He also did a great job of researching the background of those featured in the movie and portraying them as real people, as well as separating their true characters from the smear campaigns that the LVMPD uses to deflect blame from the department after they kill someone. What Happened in Vegas does a very equitable job of showing who Scott, Cole, and Gibson were and the impact their murders had on those they left behind.

I was fortunate to be able to attend the movie’s premier screenings at the Cinequest Film Festival last week and it turned out as good as I could have ever expected, if not better. Audiences, as well as critics, attending those screenings were very responsive and positive about the movie. I very much appreciate the work that Ramsey and his crew did both in making a great movie and shining a light on the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department that I expect will not go unnoticed and that was much overdue.

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Join Us For the 2nd Annual “Chalk the Police State” – July 18th

A year later, not much has changed.

A year later, not much has changed.

Background

Every day brings with it more and more examples of the increasing militarization of the police and encroachment of the police state onto everyone’s lives. At the same time, accountability for police abuses and governmental crimes is becoming harder to find. This month on the 18th of July, the one year anniversary of the original “Chalk the Police State” event, members of Nevada Cop Block invite everyone nationwide to send a message that we won’t accept this within our communities and demand that accountability.

One year ago on July 18, 2013, three members of the Sunset Activist Collective, who were at that time being threatened with citations claiming that drawing on a sidewalk with washable sidewalk chalk constitutes graffiti, called for a nationwide solidarity rally on the day that was supposed to be our court date. While the city of Las Vegas had enough common sense not to even file those charges, this event (along with a previous “Second Saturday” chalk protest) ultimately led to the arrest of three members of the NVCopBlock and the filing of ridiculous charges of writing graffiti (with chalk marketed, sold, and primarily used to write on sidewalks) and “conspiring” to write graffiti against another two members (AKA the “Sunset 5”) by Steve Wolfson, the county district attorney.

*Note, if you’ve been following along at home, you may have noticed the number of people involved has changed from the original “Sunset 3” to the current “Sunset 5.” The “Sunset 3” consisted of the original three individuals that were cited in June of 2013. After the arrests the “Sunset 4” was used because one of the arrestees was a minor at the time. The “Sunset 5” consists of the three original members and two additional members that were charged after July 18th’s action last year.*

Of course, those ridiculous charges, which amounted to nothing more than a vindictive attempt to intimidate people who were bringing attention to the murderous record of Las Vegas area police and nonexistent history of accountability for those crimes, were dropped shortly afterwards. In the process, the actions of the bullies within the LVMPD, who had pushed for the charges, backfired in a big way. Realistically, all they accomplished was to draw way more attention to the issues of police brutality we were protesting than those protests had ever actually done. The ridiculously inflated clean up costs that they used to justify those arrests also shined a huge spotlight on the wasteful and unnecessary spending habits of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department at a time when they were in the process of begging Las Vegas area residents for more money by way of a county sales tax increase.

A Year Later, What’s Different? (Spoiler: Not Much)

This Offer Still Stands

This Offer Still Stands

In spite of those original charges being dropped amid a pretty large uproar, those very real and important issues that we were protesting in the first place remain. The police brutality and outright murders continue and the complete lack of accountability for such have not disappeared or even, on any discernible level, been addressed. If anything, in fact, they’ve only gotten worse.

Over the course of just the last year, there have been numerous egregious examples of misconduct and abuse by Las Vegas area police. In one instance, Sheriff Gillespie refused the recommendation of the department’s use of force board to fire Officer Jacquar Roston, who shot Lawrence Gordon after he mistook his hat for a gun, which would have actually been the first time any LVMPD officer was fired for shooting someone in the entire history of the department. Similarly, Officer Jason Evans shot Antoine Hodges inside a local 7-11 store, in spite of the fact that he was unarmed and backing away from him at the time, after mistaking him for a wanted suspect. In yet another instance, a man attempting to flag passersby down and asking for water was accosted and then eventually killed by BLM agents and a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper after concerned cyclists reported that D’Andre Berghardt Jr. may have been in need of assistance.

The most blatant and telling example of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s absolute refusal to institute any sort of accountability involves Jesus Arevalo, who murdered disabled Gulf War vet Stanley Gibson as he sat unarmed within his car, that had been immobilized by police vehicles. Even though Arevalo was technically the first person to be fired (or in any other way held accountable) for killing someone on duty, regardless of whether the person killed was unarmed and/or completely innocent, he was actually rewarded for his deadly actions that day with a lifetime of disability payments totaling $30,000 a year, based on the stress he felt because people began calling him a murderer after he murdered an innocent, unarmed person (shortly after stating that he wanted to kill someone in order to get payed time off).

It couldn’t be much more obvious that the LVMPD and other Las Vegas area police have no real (or even feigned) interest in holding any of their trigger happy gang members accountable for there actions, no matter how questionable or downright blatant those actions might be.

 Join Us – Wherever You Are

Chalk the Police State Wherever you Are.

Chalk the Police State Wherever You Are.

As a result of all those things already mentioned and so much more that there’s hardly room to list it all, Nevada Cop Block will be holding a second annual “Chalk the Police State” celebration (which was actually inspired by Cop Block’s original “Chalk the Police Day” and so technically could be considered a fourth annual event.) at the Regional Injustice Center in Las Vegas. However, since police brutality and the absence of accountability isn’t something that’s limited to Las Vegas, we’re calling for groups (and individuals) across the country to join us in a little summer time arts and crafts display.

Ideally, we would prefer if you chose somewhere symbolic of the police state, such as a courthouse, local government building such as a city hall, or police station to chalk some messages. However, it’s obviously up to you to choose the most appropriate place to do so in your own city. Please join us and help seek justice in a peaceful, public manner against those who have made injustice a part of their job description and have some fun at the same time.

One of the many advantages of chalk protests and reasons we found them to be effective is that they are fairly easy to organize and carry out. Contrary to the claims made for the silly charges from last year, it takes very little “conspiring” to set up such actions. Also, because those participating can each draw multiple messages without too much difficulty, a relatively small group can create a large impact within a small amount of time. Basically, all you need is a few boxes of chalk, some dedicated friends, and a desire to seek accountability for local officials and their hired goons.

Confirmed Cities Thus Far

Las Vegas Flyer for the 2nd Annual "Chalk the Police State" event.

Las Vegas Flyer for the 2nd Annual “Chalk the Police State” event.

Currently we have six cities that have already confirmed that they will be participating. As many as six other cities may also be chalking that day, but we don’t have solid confirmations from them yet. The cities that definitely will be “Chalking the Police State” on July 18th are listed below, along with contact information for people in those cities to use in order to coordinate with them:

Las Vegas, NV.

Members of Nevada Cop Block will, of course, be chalking that day. No amount of retaliation or intimidation will be stopping us from seeking accountability from the LVMPD. We’ll be going back to the Regional Injustice Center, the original location of the inaugural Chalk the Police State Day.

Olympia, WA.

Seattle, WA.

Kansas City, KS.

Hosted by KCK Cop Block

Kansas City, MO.

The "Chalk the Police State" Flyer for Olympia, Wa.

The “Chalk the Police State” Flyer for Olympia, Wa.

Hosted by MO/KS Cop Block

Portland, OR.

Specific schedule/location info is pending.

Poughkeepsie, NY.

Specific schedule/location info is pending.

Celebrate “Chalk the Police State” Day in Your City

It's tragic when anyone is murdered, even if it isn't one of the rare occasions when that person is a cop.

It’s tragic when anyone is murdered, even if it isn’t one of the rare occasions when that person is a cop.

We hope that other cities will join us July 18th to make a statement about police brutality and demand accountability when police victimize people in their communities. Police corruption and misconduct is a nation-wide (international actually) problem and it’s only getting worse as time goes by. In addition, in spite the prevailing (and false) rationalizations for that increase in violence against citizens, police work is safer than it has ever been and is becoming safer all the time.

The mistreatment and abuse of you and your neighbors is inexcusable and needs to be stopped. Their record speaks for itself, though. They won’t regulate themselves or even hold the criminals in their midst accountable, after the fact. You need to take a stand and demand an end to the police state and its abuses before it’s too late.

A FaceBook event page has been set up to coordinate all of the different cities planning actions. If you have questions about setting up a chalk protest in your city, potential statements/slogans to write, questions of legality (it’s completely legal), etc. you can post them there. We would also like to have any local event pages link to that page, so we can keep track of who will be participating and allow people in those cities to coordinate with each other. That event page is located here: (National) Second Annual Chalk the Police State with the “Sunset 5” and in Solidarity with the Victims of Police Brutality, Repression, and Murder. Alternatively, you can also contact NVCopBlock.org’s contact page, if you are not on Facebook or just want to cutout the middle man.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Departments' Pathetic History of "Accountability"

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Departments’ Pathetic History of “Accountability”

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