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Grand Jury to Review Manslaughter Charge Against LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera in Tashii Farmer-Brown Murder

LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera Grand Jury Manslaughter

A Las Vegas grand jury will review the involuntary manslaughter charge against LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera, who used an unauthorized choke-hold to murder Tashii Brown in May 2017.

Lawyers for Las Vegas Police Officer Kenneth Lopera (he didn’t personally attend) were in court Thursday (Jan. 25) for a preliminary hearing. It was described in a story by the local Fox affiliate as a date-setting hearing.

In May of 2017,  Lopera used an illegal choke-hold to murder Tashii Farmer-Brown, who had approached Lopera and another officer at the Venetian Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip asking for help. (See description below) Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department statements have referred to it as a “unauthorized restraint technique” in order to try and make it sound less violent than it actually was.

During the hearing, it was announced that prosecutors will have a grand jury review Officer Lopera’s involuntary manslaughter charge. Lopera has also been charged with one count of “oppression under the color of law.” That too will be reviewed by the grand jury.

The LVPPA, the Las Vegas police union, is providing legal defense (and has set up a fundraiser that violates the GoFundMe rules, but GoFundMe has refused to take down) for Lopera. Steve Grammas, their president is quoted as saying that they “welcome the review.” But then he’s also on record stating that he thinks hiring a cop who has murdered three people to officially advise cops that shoot someone is a good idea because “he has a lot of experience with that.”

The Clark County District Attorney’s Office was given until March 26th to seek an indictment against Lopera by the judge. The grand jury can choose to endorse those previous charges or could revise them.

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

Ploy by Police & Prosecutors to Drop the Charges?

Of course, that last part about “revising” the charges is something that likely will cause people who have followed this case to take notice. Grand jury hearings are usually just a formality within the process of filing charges. The old saying, “any good prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich” is often used to illustrate just how easy it is.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Officer Kenneth Lopera

LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera

However, as has been pointed out before here at NVCopBlock.org, prosecutors often use grand juries to justify not indicting police officers after they kill someone. District attorneys are in full control of the proceedings and decide what evidence is presented (or not). Essentially, they throw the case then use the fact the grand jury didn’t issue an indictment to claim they did everything they could but the case just wasn’t strong enough.

They are also ostensibly the representatives of the victims during the grand jury proceedings, although they really work for the other side. Much more often than not, that carries over to when cops are accused of criminal behavior. The fact that grand juries are by law a secret hearing, with criminal penalties for anyone that discusses what transpired, ensures that no one (including even the jurors) can expose or even criticize their lackluster efforts.

The fact that Officer Lopera is only facing a manslaughter charge (involuntary at that) is itself a point of contention among locals. Most who have seen the body camera footage (embedded below) of Lopez repeatedly tazing, beating, and then choking Tashii Farmer-Brown to death feel it was a pretty clear cut case of murder.

If a grand jury somehow decides not to uphold even those charges, things are going to get hot early this year in Vegas.

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 Farmer-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.

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LVMPD Documentary “What Happened in Vegas” Premieres in Los Angeles on Friday (Dec. 1st) at Laemmle Music Hall

Documentary What Happened in Vegas Ramsey Denison Laemmle Los Angeles Premier

What Happened in Vegas” by Ramsey Denison, the documentary about police brutality and corruption at the LVMPD, premiers in Los Angeles at Laemmle Music Hall 9pm Friday Dec. 1st.

Los Angeles Premier

What Happened in Vegas,” the award winning documentary by Ramsey Denison, is set to open in Los Angeles tomorrow. The official West Coast theatrical premier of the documentary about corruption, coverups, and police brutality at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is being held at the Laemmle Theater in Beverly Hills (a “Secret Path to Oscar Qualifying” for independent films, short films, and documentaries) at 9pm on Friday, December 1st. (Purchase tickets here.)

As has been detailed numerous times here at NVCopBlock.org, What Happened in Vegas explores the extremely controversial killings of Trevon Cole, Erik Scott, Stanley Gibson, and Tashii Farmer-Brown by Las Vegas police and the cover ups that followed. Several other instances of violent, racist, and/or outright criminal acts by members of the LVMPD are also featured to illustrate the overall systemic corruption within the department.

In the run up to the official opening, What Happened in Vegas has already received positive reviews from the Los Angeles media. In a preview article in the LA Weekly (originally published at the Village Voice), Daphne Howland writes:

Denison’s documentary What Happened in Vegas is more than a revenge project. He unveils a pattern of police malfeasance, including cover-ups and lies, through disturbing stories of unjustified deaths.

It’s a damning takedown of the city’s powers that be — casinos cozy with a sheriff willing to protect their interests, and a constabulary infected with a Wild West mentality, armed with military weaponry and prone to lies. He argues that those powers even abet a law enforcement debacle surrounding the recent mass shooting at an outdoor music festival that left 58 concertgoers dead and nearly 500 injured.

Denison keeps up the pace — those television skills coming in handy — and unpacks a lot. But he also allows in some light. There are plenty of Las Vegas police officers who want things to change, and Denison gives them, and the victims’ families, a voice.

(As mentioned within the review, What Happened in Vegas also addresses several questions and issues about the investigation surrounding the shootings from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas by Stephen Paddock during the “Route 91 Festival” on Oct. 1st.)

Last week, What Happened in Vegas premiered in New York City at the Cinema Village Theater in East Manhattan on  Black Friday. Subsequent New York showtimes after the official theatrical premier can be found here. The New York opening represented the first showing of the movie within commercial theaters. Prior to that, What Happened in Vegas enjoyed a very successful run of screenings at film festivals throughout the country.

After premiering to rave reviews at Cinequest in San Jose in March, What Happened in Vegas won several awards in subsequent festivals. Among those awards was Best Documentary at the Las Vegas Black Film Festival and the Grand Prize award at the Anthem Film Festival, which is hosted by FreedomFest here in Las Vegas.

In addition, What Happened in Vegas is currently available for pre-order on iTunes.

Police Interference with Las Vegas Showings

Incidentally, outside of the two festival showings previously mentioned, audiences within Las Vegas have yet to see What Happened in Vegas. The reason for that is very much not because of a lack of interest. In fact, three different commercial theater chains had at one time expressed interest in showing the movie here in town.

However, in all those cases that initial interest waned due to the controversial nature of the film and potential fallout from it. It’s even been reported that they received visits from representatives of the LVMPD to help them make that decision. Sources I’ve been in contact with have also told me that Metro has issued a memo to all of their officers directing them not to discuss What Happened in Vegas publicly.

Once you see the movie, you will very much understand why Metro desperately doesn’t want it to be shown theatrically within the city of Las Vegas. It very clearly, convincingly, and dramatically lays out the criminal nature of Sheriff Lombardo and others at the top of the LVMPD and the real consequences of it for the residents and visitors of Las Vegas.

“What Happened in Vegas” Trailer

“What Happened in Vegas” Filmmaker Intro

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

The LVMPD’s Shifting Timeline for the Oct. 1st Las Vegas Mass Shooting

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Police Brutality Documentary “What Happened in Vegas” Set to Premier in New York on Black Friday (Nov. 24th)

New York Premier What Happened in Vegas Cinema Village Theater

“What Happened in Vegas,” the documentary about corruption and police brutality within the LVMPD by Ramsey Denison, premiers in New York at Cinema Village on Friday, Nov. 24th.

New York Premier

What Happened in Vegas,” the award winning documentary by Ramsey Denison, is set to open in New York City this week. The first showing of the movie about police brutality within the city of Las Vegas takes place at the Cinema Village Theater in East Manhattan on (Black) Friday, Nov. 24th at 7:00pm. Subsequent showtimes after the official theatrical premier can be found here.

As has been detailed numerous times here at NVCopBlock.org, What Happened in Vegas explores the extremely controversial killings of Trevon Cole, Erik Scott, Stanley Gibson, and Tashii Farmer-Brown by Las Vegas police and the cover ups that followed. Several other instances of violent, racist, and/or outright criminal acts by members of the LVMPD are also featured to illustrate the overall systemic corruption within the department.

In the run up to the official opening, What Happened in Vegas has already begun receiving positive reviews by New York media. In a preview article entitled “A Filmmaker Reported Police Brutality in Las Vegas. So the Cops Arrested Him,” Daphne Howland of the Village Voice wrote:

Denison’s documentary What Happened in Vegas is more than a revenge project. He unveils a pattern of police malfeasance, including cover-ups and lies, through disturbing stories of unjustified deaths.

It’s a damning takedown of the city’s powers that be — casinos cozy with a sheriff willing to protect their interests, and a constabulary infected with a Wild West mentality, armed with military weaponry and prone to lies. He argues that those powers even abet a law enforcement debacle surrounding the recent mass shooting at an outdoor music festival that left 58 concertgoers dead and nearly 500 injured.

Denison keeps up the pace — those television skills coming in handy — and unpacks a lot. But he also allows in some light. There are plenty of Las Vegas police officers who want things to change, and Denison gives them, and the victims’ families, a voice.

(As mentioned within the review, What Happened in Vegas also addresses several questions and issues about the investigation surrounding the shootings from the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas by Stephen Paddock during the “Route 91 Festival” on Oct. 1st.)

The New York opening represents the first showing of the movie within commercial theaters. Prior to that, What Happened in Vegas enjoyed a very successful run of screenings at film festivals throughout the country.

After premiering to rave reviews at Cinequest in San Jose in March, What Happened in Vegas won several awards in subsequent festivals. Among those awards was Best Documentary at the Las Vegas Black Film Festival and the Grand Prize award at the Anthem Film Festival, which is hosted by FreedomFest here in Las Vegas.

Los Angeles Premier, Las Vegas Showings, and Beyond

Next month, What Happened in Vegas will make its West Coast theatrical premier when it opens in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Theater in Beverly Hills on December 1st. BTW, word on the streets is that playing at the Laemmle Theaters is a “Secret Path to Oscar Qualifying” for independent films, short films, and documentaries that normally haven’t received the attention that big-budget, studio films are afforded. So, Joe Lombardo and the rest of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in theory could really get their ivory tower shook up by a cameo with a guy named Oscar come February. (#JusSayin)

Speaking of the LVMPD and appearances they desperately don’t want to happen, outside of the two festival appearances previously mentioned, audiences within Las Vegas have yet to see What Happened in Vegas. The reason for that is not a lack of interest. In fact, two different commercial theater chains had at one time expressed interest in showing the movie here in town.

However, in both cases that interest waned due to the controversial nature of the film and potential fallout from it. It’s been reported that they even received visits from representatives of the LVMPD to help them make that decision. Sources I’ve been in contact with have also told me that Metro has issued a memo to all of their officers directing them not to discuss What Happened in Vegas publicly.

Regardless of that, plans are for the movie to show theatrically within the city of Las Vegas, one way or another, at some point after the New York and Los Angeles premiers. In the meantime, What Happened in Vegas is currently available for pre-order on iTunes.

“What Happened in Vegas” Trailer

“What Happened in Vegas” Filmmaker Intro

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

The LVMPD’s Shifting Timeline for the Oct. 1st Las Vegas Mass Shooting

Posts Related to What Happened in Vegas

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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In Nevada, the Most Distinctive Cause of Death is the Police

Map of People Killed by police in Las Vegas

So many people were killed by Las Vegas police between 2015 and 2017 the list has to be continued on another map. (Link to original source: https://goo.gl/44uUPE)

This week, the Las Vegas Review Journal wrote about a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which outlined the “most distinctive” cause of death for each of the 50 states. Something that’s not a giant shock to anyone living in Las Vegas and especially those who have watched and dealt with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (and other Las Vegas area police departments) over the years, was that “run ins with police” was declared the most distinctive cause of death for those living in Nevada. (I’ll let you make that joke about the police being officially classified as a disease.)

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

From the LVRJ article:

Nevada’s most distinctive cause of death — though not its most frequent — isn’t a disease.

It’s encounters with law enforcement, according to a new state-by-state report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Encounters with law enforcement in this case does not include executions.

The study maps out how geography factors into the prevalence of rare killers. For 22 states, the total number of these types of deaths was under 100.

The Silver State falls into that group, with deaths by so-called legal intervention at 82, a rate 2.8 times the national average, said Francis Boscoe of the New York State Cancer Registry and the lead researcher in the study.

Researchers couldn’t identify a clear reason why death by legal intervention garnered the most distinction in Nevada as well as New Mexico and Oregon.

Beware of the World's Biggest Gang!

Beware of the World’s Biggest Gang!

Since it’s actually not real clear in the original article, the criteria for “most distinctive cause of death” needs to be explained a bit. As stated in the first paragraph, the most distinctive cause of death isn’t the most frequent cause of death. What it actually represents is the cause of death for which a state ranks highest compared to the rest of the country. So, in essence, it means your state excels in a certain specific way of dying, when compared to the nation at large. In Nevada’s case, summary executions by police happen at almost three times the rate of the rest of the United States. Interestingly enough, these stats for deaths that are preceded by the arrival of a cop don’t actually include executions involving a judge and jury. I don’t doubt that brought Texas’ ranking down in a big way. (You saw what I did there.)

As far as those CDC researchers not being able to identify the reason why coming into contact with a cop is especially dangerous in Nevada, they should come with me some time and talk to some of the people living in Las Vegas, especially those in poor and/or minority neighborhoods. The heavy-handed and violent tactics of the police, along with their shoot first mentalities, utter lack of accountability, and retaliatory practices toward anyone that tries to hold them accountable all play a part in the “distinctive” level of danger interacting with Las Vegas area cops represents. In fact, in a city that not only encourages, but often glorifies unhealthy habits, such as smoking and excess drinking, it takes a lot to distinguish yourself as an accomplished killer. As people here are all too familiar though, the LVMPD has a long history of striving to be the most distinctive in that regard.

“Las Vegas Police (and Security, BLM) Brutality Compilation via Jason Nellis at “The World as seen by Jazoof.”

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