Tag Archives: LVPPA

“What Happened in Vegas” Documentary; LVMPD Racial Profiling, False Arrest Case Featured on Las Vegas’ Local ABC Station

As I reported yesterday, Silk Galloway will be in court at 1:30pm today (Wednesday, June 28th) for a motion hearing regarding his case within Municipal Court Department 2, room 5B. During that hearing, he will be asking that the ridiculous and false obstruction charge that he is facing be dropped.

Last night, “KTNV Channel 13 Action News,” Las Vegas’ local ABC affiliate, featured a story about his case. Within that coverage they also mentioned that Galloway’s assault and false arrest by a “Saturation Team” from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department was included in an anti-police brutality documentary that will be opening in theaters in August.

In addition to the racial profiling of Galloway, “What Happened in Vegas,” by Ramsey Denison, focuses on the murders of Erik Scott, Trevon Cole, Stanley Gibson, and Tashii Brown, as well as other abuses and the cover up of those abuses by the LVMPD.

Via KTNV.com:

Galloway, who was a passenger in the car, has been charged with obstruction in the case that dates back to 2015.

His attorney, Stephen Stubbs, is asking those charges be dismissed.

That motion is set for a hearing on Wednesday afternoon.

It all started when Las Vegas police pulled over the car Galloway was in.

“The officer looks over at me and says, ‘do you have your Id?’ and I said yes. He said, ‘may I have it? and I said no you may not,” Galloway said in an interview for the documentary “What Happened in Vegas”.

Stephen Stubbs says his client was correct there.

“They demanded the ID and he said no. Rightfully. Silk was right on the law,” Stubbs said.

It was just after that point that Galloway started recording with a GoPro camera on his dash.

It eventually captured him being pulled from the car.

“I’m going to give you to the count of three or I’m going to pull you out,” an officer is heard saying in the video.

Stubbs points out the officer didn’t start counting like he said he would before pulling Galloway out, but says he was more disturbed by what followed.

“The police did not act right here, and my clients rights were violated,” Stubbs said.

When they didn’t find anything, the officers, apparently unaware the camera was recording, are overheard talking about the results.

“Do what you got to do, because we gotta find something,” an officer is heard saying on the GoPro video.

Officers eventually took Galloway to jail on obstruction charges.

“They treated him like an animal. They took him to jail. They arrested him and they cavity searched him,” Stubbs said.

Various groups within the community have called for courtroom support for Galloway during this hearing. In addition, there will be a short rally outside, beginning at noon, to show that support and bring attention to the issues involved in this case. Afterwards, people will be encouraged to attend the hearing as well, in order to show that the community stands with Silk Galloway and will not stand idly by during this miscarriage of justice.

People are welcome to bring signs or other relevant materials to the rally, although you won’t be able to bring them to the courtroom. There should be enough time in between to put them away.

Preview of “What Happened in Vegas”

Video Featuring Police Body Camera Footage and GoPro Video

Original GoPro Video

Related Posts Submitted By or About Stephen Stubbs:

Stephen-Stubbs-CopBlockThose of you that have followed CopBlock.org over the past several years are probably already aware that Stephen Stubbs has been a frequent subject of posts on  NVCopBlock.org. He often represents bikers and motorcycle organizations, whom are frequent targets of harassment from the police. In addition, I have personally worked with Stephen in the past on several occasions through Nevada Cop Block on issues or cases involving his clients or on know your rights seminars he has done within the Las Vegas area.

Therefore, there is a pretty lengthy (and growing) list of posts on the Nevada Cop Block site involving Stephen Stubbs, his clients, and/or people or groups he is associated with. Included below are links to those posts.

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Update: Demonstration and Courtroom Support for Silk Galloway; LVMPD Racial Profiling, False Arrest Victim

“Do what you gotta do ’cause we gotta find something.”

That quote comes from the instructions that LVMPD Lt. Connell gave to one of the officers working as part of a “Saturation Team” just after they had pulled over Solomon “Silk” Galloway (Galloway commonly goes by his middle name), then assaulted and falsely arrested him in February of 2016.

Realizing that they didn’t have any actual crime to charge him with, they quickly came to the conclusion that they had to “find something” to retroactively justify that arrest. Unbeknownst to them, the entire illegal search, including those instructions to just “find something,” was being recorded by a GoPro camera inside the car.

Prior to that, Galloway and a co-worker had been pulled over under the pretense they had been speeding. However, as reported here previously, the body camera footage released later (embedded below) actually shows the speedometer in the police vehicle that pulled them over, proving that they weren’t speeding at the time. Instead, it appears to simply be a case of racial profiling which they then unnecessarily escalated into the eventual false arrest.

Racial profiling is pretty much what saturation teams were created to do, so that kinda goes without saying. When Galloway refused to cooperate with their unlawful orders to present ID, even though he as the passenger of the vehicle was under no obligation to do so, they decided they would arrest him and “find something” later. Unfortunately, they were never actually able to “find something.” There were no drugs or anything else illegal on him or within the car.

Instead, they decided to charge Galloway with “obstruction,” which is otherwise known as “contempt of cop.” Over a year later, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Clark County County District Attorney Steve Wolfson continue to push forward with this ridiculous charge. Tomorrow, Wednesday June 28th, Galloway will be in court at 1:30pm for a motion hearing regarding his case within Municipal Court Department 2, room 5B.

Various groups within the community have called for courtroom support for Galloway during this hearing. In addition, there will be a short rally outside, beginning at noon, to show that support and bring attention to the issues involved in this case. Afterwards, people will be encouraged to attend the hearing as well, in order to show that the community stands with Silk Galloway and will not stand idly by during this miscarriage of justice. People are welcome to bring signs or other relevant materials to the rally, although you won’t be able to bring them to the courtroom. There should be enough time in between to put them away.

Among the many issues already discussed previously, some members of the community have questioned whether the judge in the case, Susan Roger, has a conflict of interest since her husband, David Roger, works as the lawyer for the Las Vegas Police Protective Association (LVPPA). As a result, they are asking for her to recuse herself from this case. While that won’t happen (because she would then have to recuse herself from any case involving the police) it serves as a good reminder of David Roger’s own conflicts of interest.

For those not aware, David Roger was the District Attorney during the “investigations” of the murders of Erik Scott and Trevon Cole by Las Vegas police officers. He resigned shortly after the murder of Stanley Gibson by Officer Jesus Arevalo while that “investigation” was still underway to accept a position as the LVPPA’s lawyer. So, he went from the head of the department that absolutely refused to file any charges against police officers when they kill someone on duty to the guy who officially defends them for the police union.

Video Featuring Police Body Camera Footage and GoPro Video

Original GoPro Video

Related Posts Submitted By or About Stephen Stubbs:

Stephen-Stubbs-CopBlockThose of you that have followed CopBlock.org over the past several years are probably already aware that Stephen Stubbs has been a frequent subject of posts on  NVCopBlock.org. He often represents bikers and motorcycle organizations, whom are frequent targets of harassment from the police. In addition, I have personally worked with Stephen in the past on several occasions through Nevada Cop Block on issues or cases involving his clients or on know your rights seminars he has done within the Las Vegas area.

Therefore, there is a pretty lengthy (and growing) list of posts on the Nevada Cop Block site involving Stephen Stubbs, his clients, and/or people or groups he is associated with. Included below are links to those posts.

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Masturbating Janitor Case Exposes Cover-Up of Las Vegas School Cop’s Sex Crimes

CCSD Police Officer Masturbation Sgt Mitch Maciszak

In December, a complaint by a Las Vegas elementary school teacher led to the arrest of Michael Timothy Skelton, an overnight custodian, for masturbating on school property. However, within the course of researching that story Darcy Spears, a local news reporter, uncovered information that shows the school police officer in charge of investigating the allegations against the custodian has his own sordid history of sex related incidents and, unlike Skelton, the Clark County School District Police Department didn’t prosecute him and has actually covered up that criminal history.

In fact, Sgt. Maciszak was himself caught in the act of masturbating at a local middle school and has a history of sexually explicit transgressions dating back years. He was reported as having engaged in sex acts with a department employee both in his patrol car and within the same office that he was discovered going to town on himself while watching Asian porn on a department computer. For good measure, he was also accused of getting really drunk and using his cell phone to take photos up the skirts of women during a police department Christmas party.

The greatest moment contained on the videos below is within the second one, consisting of an interview between Darcy Spears and Sgt. Maciszak regarding the charges against Skelton. She’s doesn’t bring up Maciszak’s own history until after she’s already got him to discuss how seriously the CCSD police take cases involving masturbation on school property. She also gets him to say that the department’s ultimate goal for such cases is “always jail time.”

Up to that point, Maciszak is pretty relaxed and happy to discuss how inappropriate the janitor’s behavior was. That changes quite a bit shortly after, though, when Spears begins to discuss Maciszak’s own behavior. Suddenly, he doesn’t want to discuss it because it’s a “personnel issue.” Shortly after, Captain Ken Young, who was monitoring the interview, agreed that it’s a personnel issue and declared the interview over as Maciszak stands up and starts taking his microphone off.

So, it’s okay to discuss a school janitor’s dirty hands, even though it’s not just a personnel issue but also a criminal matter. However, the interview is over as soon as someone brings up the fact that the cop in charge of investigating that case has left some stains of his own on school property.

Via KTNV 13 Action News in Las Vegas: (emphasis added)

Darcy Spears: The ultimate goal in cases like this is what?

Sgt. Maciszak: Well, we always like — like to see some type of outcome to where some type of sentence is imposed.  Either jail time — always jail time.

Skelton cut a plea deal, putting him behind bars for two years.  Then, he’ll have to register as a sex offender.

Darcy Spears: Safe to say that CCSD Police takes this type of incident–masturbating on school property–very seriously?

Sgt. Maciszak: Absolutely.  We take all incidents seriously.  Any type of incident that could impact our children, our staff, our visitors of the school district, we want to make sure–like I said–they’re safe when they come to our property.

Though Maciszak says the Skelton case is unique, our research suggests that this might not be an isolated incident.

We asked Maciszak to flash back to when he was a detective stationed at Garside Middle School.

Darcy Spears: This was a case that our research tells us involved you personally, and an Internal Affairs investigation and masturbation at Garside and pornography.

Sgt. Maciszak: You’re speaking of a personnel issue and I’m not comfortable speaking with that.

It’s something the CCSD Police Department has kept secret… Until now.

Contact 13 obtained an audio recording from a 2012 School Police Internal Affairs investigation.

Internal Affairs Investigator Courtney Purcell of the Bureau of Professional Standards says, “A couple of years before that, while Det. Maciszak was working Adult Education at Garside, Art Sturdivant, who used to be one of our officers but now works for Henderson Police, walked into the police office at Garside and caught Maciszak masturbating while watching pornography on his work computer.

Officer Mike Thomas: That’s what Art Sturdivant told me, yes.

Darcy Spears spoke to Officer Sturdivant, who recounted what he saw that day.

He said he tried to use his key to get into the police office at Garside, but the chain lock on the inside blocked him from opening the door all the way.

He saw Maciszak jump back, bend over to cover himself and run into the back office.

Maciszak’s belt was lying on the desk and there was Asian pornography on the computer screen.

Officer Mike Thomas on the audio tape says, “The tech over at Garside had constantly–it was kind of like common knowledge — had constantly — that computer was always crashed.  It had so much pornography on it that they had to constantly go in there and fix the problem.

When we asked the District about the incident, they sent a written statement, which says, “Concerns were brought forward, which were investigated administratively. Appropriate action was taken.”

But in two cases, which both involved masturbating on school property, custodian Michael Skelton was arrested, charged and sent to prison. 

Because no one blew the whistle on Mitch Maciszak, his case wasn’t even investigated for years. 

That investigation started on the very day Maciszak was promoted to sergeant. 

The outcome, our sources say?  A letter of reprimand in a personnel file.

“As far as I know, this was a reprimand in the file and no criminal charges were filed?” Darcy Spears asked Sgt. Maciszak.  But before he could answer, CCSD Police Captain Ken Young, who was supervising the interview, said, “At this point, like I said, we talked about that, this is a personnel issue.  So at this point we would have to conclude the interview.”

Maciszak takes off his microphone, and leaves the room.

Contact 13 learned this was just the tip of the iceberg with Sgt. Maciszak.

Sgt Mitch Maciszak CCSD PoliceAs detailed in the video, Sgt. Maciszak was not held accountable for his inappropriate sexual activity while on duty at a school in any way criminally, even though they exactly matched the actions of Michael Skelton for which he was charged with felony crimes. Instead, Maciszak was given a meaningless reprimand and then actually promoted to sergeant, even as he was being investigated for the masturbation incident.

And it gets better.

The third video embedded below details even more of Sgt. Maciszak’s “personnel issues:”

But Contact 13 discovered the cop who headed up the investigation had a dark secret of his own.

“How would it look it if got out that he was involved in the same type of activity that he was investigating?” CCSD Police Officer Mike Thomas asked during a March, 2012 Internal Affairs investigation.  Contact 13 obtained the audio recording of that interview…

Darcy Spears: Is it fair for you, with a background like that, to be investigating a case like this? Do you see a possible conflict of interest?

Sgt. Mitch Maciszak: There is no conflict of interest.

Maciszak is no stranger to allegations of sex acts on the job.  What is strange for him is having to answer publicly for his actions…

Other officers were not comfortable speaking out about Maciszak’s behavior until sources say it became impossible to ignore.  They came to Officer Mike Thomas, who heads the police union’s grievance committee.

“Taken as a whole, I think there’s a pattern that did give me some concern,” Thomas told Internal Affairs.

Specifically, sex on the job at school police headquarters.  Investigators were told Maciszak was getting oral sex from another department employee in his assigned school district vehicle.

“And on at least one occasion, he allegedly took her into his work office and had sex with her,” the Internal Affairs investigator repeats during the interview with Thomas.

Thomas added, “I think if you have impulses that you can’t keep in check and you bring them into the workplace, then I think that’s an issue.”

The other issue Internal Affairs investigated is something Officer Thomas witnessed first hand on December 18, 2010 at the Police Officer’s Association Christmas party, which was attended by about 125 department employees and their guests.

IA investigator: And that you saw Det. Maciszak, who you felt was obviously intoxicated, taking his camera phone, sticking it up women’s skirts and taking pictures up their skirts?

Mike Thomas: Yes.

Multiple people who were at the party tell Contact 13 they saw it too.

Officer Thomas told investigators, “To say he was out of control was an understatement.”

The behavior described is a clear violation of the School Police code of conduct.  Sanctions are supposed to get stricter with each additional offense.

According to an internal memo Contact 13 obtained, the complaints against Maciszak were “fully investigated and the appropriate administrative action” was taken.

We don’t know what that action was, but we do know Maciszak was promoted to sergeant during the investigation and even acts as a department spokesman, including in the case of custodian Michael Skelton.

When we asked him about Skelton, he said, “This employee chose, consciously, to do the wrong thing and make the wrong decision.  Therefore, he has to face the consequences that have been dealt to him.”

So, after a school janitor “chose, consciously, to do the wrong thing and make the wrong decision,” he had to “face the consequences” of a felony record, prison time, and being forced to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, the cop investigating Skelton has a history of sexual crimes longer and even worse than him. However, instead of having to face the consequences of his actions, Sgt. Maciszak’s conscious and chosen wrong decisions are treated as a personnel issue and swept under the rug without any meaningful consequences, whatsoever. In fact, according to the CCSD Police Department, the “appropriate administrative action” was for him to be promoted and made a spokesperson for the department, not to be criminally charged or even fired.

This is hardly the first recent case of a CCSD cop getting arrested or of sex crimes being committed by members of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Nor is it even a rare example of Las Vegas police covering up for their fellow employees or other government officials. It’s hardly shocking that people living in Las Vegas have such little trust of the police or faith in police “investigators” with that type of sterling history for accountability among area police departments.

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Jesus Arevalo, the LVMPD Cop Who Murdered Stanley Gibson, Ends Up in Jail (For 10 Days)

Jesus Arevalo LV Police Murder Stanley GibsonThe former Las Vegas cop, who in December of 2011 fired the shots that killed Gulf War vet Stanley Gibson as he sat unarmed in a car, has been sentenced to 10 days of jail for contempt of court by Las Vegas Municipal Court Judge Heidi Almase. This particular sentence is related to a subsequent charge in which Jesus Arevalo was found guilty of harassing his ex-wife and her new boyfriend. Arevalo was seen and heard by numerous witnesses making death threats against Steve Delao, who is now married to Arevalo’s former wife Catherine, in public at a church.

It’s not exactly clear what constituted that charge of contempt. However, one of the stipulations of his sentencing was that if he violated the protection order his wife has against him after his release he would have to serve the 179 day suspended sentence that he received from that conviction. This would imply that the contempt charge involves some sort of violation of that protection order.

stanley_gibson_shootingAt the time that Jesus Arevalo shot him, Stanley Gibson was not even suspected of being armed (as testified by other officers at the scene), was suffering from a panic attack precipitated by a mental illness and PTSD related to his wartime military service, and was merely sitting in a car that had been blocked in and completely immobilized by police vehicles (see video embedded below). He was incoherent, unresponsive and not in any way threatening or even capable of harming anyone. The police had responded to a suspected break in after Stanley became confused and went to the wrong apartment thinking it was where he lived after having just moved.

Arevalo was a problem cop with an extensive history of complaints and internal discipline, who should have been fired long before he got the opportunity to kill Stanley Gibson. Instead, he was moved from one unit to another and eventually put on the graveyard shift. According to his ex-wife, he had in fact stated that he wanted to kill someone in order to get paid time off, as well as making disparaging and racist comments about Gibson to her after the shooting. Arevalo is just one example of the LVMPD’s abysmal history of refusing and even actively working to prevent accountability for the criminals within their ranks.

Jesus Arevalo's Court Record

Jesus Arevalo’s Court Record

Although on paper he was punished by being fired, Jesus Arevalo was never held accountable or punished in any real way for the murder of Stanley Gibson. Instead, he was effectively rewarded for his deadly actions that day. First, he was given two years of paid vacation while his former coworkers at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department “investigated” the shooting. Then former Sheriff Gillespie dragged his feet long enough before “firing” Jesus Arevalo to allow him to put in for disability (for the stress of being called a murderer after he murderer someone).

He was approved for that disability just one month before his “firing” by the LVMPD. Among those on the board that approved his disability were Chris Collins, who at that time was the president of the LVPPA (the police union for departments within the Las Vegas area). Collins stated that he didn’t feel it was a conflict of interest because they “didn’t hang out together.” As part of his “disability,” Arevalo now receives just under $30,000 (plus future cost of living increases) per year for the rest of his life. Unlike Social Security disability, people receiving government disability are also not precluded from working, they are just not allowed to be employed in the same field. So, Arevalo will receive that $30k/year Killer’s Bonus on top of whatever he makes in another job.

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Click Banner to learn more about filming the police

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Did Las Vegas Police Retaliate Against Nevada Cop Block for Local Activism?

Kelly W. Patterson. NVCopBlock.org editor and local activist, shortly after a hit and run "accident."

Kelly W. Patterson. NVCopBlock.org editor and longtime local activist, shortly after a hit and run “accident.”

A Week of Oddly-Timed “Coincidences”

Two months ago, on March 5th, I was struck by a hit and run driver while walking in downtown Las Vegas. Anybody that’s familiar with Las Vegas traffic knows that in itself isn’t exactly an unusual event. However, a string of incredibly oddly timed and interconnected events surrounding my own incident, including another local activist being hit by a car the previous day, have made many within the local activist community wonder if there wasn’t more to it than just a random car “accident.” In fact, some have even classified it as an assassination attempt by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

Personally, I’m putting this out there because I feel that it’s important that people know about it and that there be a public record of it. Because of my injuries, which included a broken back, and the medication that I was taking for those injuries, it did take me a while to get this written, but once again, I think it is important to get this on the record. Not unlike other issues involving Cop Block related activities, when those activities make you a target, visibility and transparency are important not just to ensure accountability but to provide protection for those involved. I really don’t want to see any other “coincidences” happen to any of my friends or other activists within the Las Vegas area and making it public makes it difficult for it to happen again without people connecting the dots.

This account is rather long, but I don’t think I could have condensed it much more and still shown all the various connections and commonalities between the incidents of the week in question and the past two years that establish the possible motives and “likely suspects.” To make things a a little easier to follow, I did create a timeline that lays out most of those connections in a visual manner, which you can find a thumbnail to below.

A Timeline of Events Surrounding the Week of Oddly Timed “Coincidences”

Click for a larger, more readable version

Click for a larger, more readable version

That week actually consisted of four separate incidents involving members or associates of Nevada Cop Block and the Sunset Activist Collective (a local activist group that several members of NV Cop Block also belong to). All four of those involved members with ties to anti-police brutality activism, in general, and protests using chalk, in particular. That detail is fairly significant because last August the LVMPD dedicated an entire task force and two months of their time to investigate, charge, and arrest four people (the “Sunset 4“), including myself, for conducting chalk protests relating to police killings in the Las Vegas area and the lack of accountability for questionable shootings or even several that amount to outright murder.

When the cops in Las Vegas kill people their ONLY "punishment" is paid leave.

When the cops in Las Vegas kill people their ONLY “punishment” is paid leave.

The first of these incidents, on March 4th, 2014, was when one of the “Sunset 4” arrestees was stopped by Metro police for the rather arbitrary reasoning of supposedly following the car in front of her too closely. To further complicate this incident, just prior to the stop, she had dropped off Ballentine, who had also been among those of us arrested in August of 2013, prior to being stopped.

During the stop, the cops brought up the fact that she had been arrested for chalking and questioned her about her involvement in protesting. At the time, it was considered harassing, but because it was the first incident, it was assumed that they had just noticed the arrest on her record and wasn’t widely believed to be a targeted act.

Later that same evening, the second incident took place, this time involving local activist Jen Harney, who had organized a widely publicized protest shortly after the chalking arrests. Similar to my own incident, while crossing the street downtown she was hit by a car. Later, it was determined that the person driving the car she was hit by was not only an ex-cop, but that he currently works for a company that sells weapons and equipment to police departments.

The very next night, on March 5th, I was walking to the bank down Charleston near Las Vegas Blvd. As I (legally) crossed 8th street, a car made a right turn off of Charleston, ran into me, and kept going. During the collision, I suffered a concussion, and as is often the case in accidents, I don’t remember much beyond the initial point where I saw the car was going to hit me. However, I do have some hazy memories of afterwards and I’m pretty certain that the car didn’t make any effort to stop at all.

Finally, the last incident happened two days later on March 7th, 2014, during a “First Friday” art festival, which is held every month in downtown Las Vegas. Once again, this involved Jen, who was holding the official grand opening for a gallery and art supply store she owns. Late in the evening, a group of uniformed LVMPD officers came to the store.

While there, they displayed no actual interest in shopping, but instead stood together outside looking through the window. Soon after, they approached the doorway and again just stood watching as Jen’s partner, who is not particularly involved in activism, spoke to some customers. She asked them if there was anything she could help them with and subsequently asked them if they would like her to give them a tour of the gallery. They refused both those requests and continued for some time behaving in a way that made her feel very “freaked out” and intimidated, in general.

The Connections

Metro Doesn't Like When people Bring Attention to All Those Murders

Metro Doesn’t Like When People Bring Attention to All Those Murders

As previously stated, taken separately none these incidents are particularly unusual in Las Vegas. Even those clearly involving intimidation and harassment are pretty standard behavior for Las Vegas area police departments. While it gets a little more suspicious, even the two incidents involving people being run down by cars within less than 24 hours could conceivably just be wild coincidences. However, taken as a whole and factoring in all the common connections paints these as a rather unlikely and most oddly timed set of “coincidences.”

First of all, as has already been pointed out, all four of the incidents involved someone with both a connection to anti-police brutality protests and the previous chalking arrests. Secondly, three of those four incidents involved obvious, direct, and provable connections to the police and even to the LVMPD. The lone exception to that is the hit and run against me, in which the driver has not been identified. Thirdly, the limited time frame itself casts suspicion on the randomness of these events. All four of these incidents happened within a 96 hour period and three of the four took place within 24 hours of each other.

Expanding beyond that, there are even more common connections than those simple, obvious ones. On February 14th, 2014 officers from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) abused and subsequently murdered a man after cyclists called 911 to report that he was attempting to flag people down and appeared to be in need of assistance by Red Rock Canyon, just north of Las Vegas, and instead of offering that assistance they sent police to arrest him. In response, members of Nevada Cop Block conducted a protest involving chalking at the headquarters of the Nevada Highway Patrol, which had also had an employee present at the shooting, a few days later.

This particular protest took place roughly two weeks prior to the beginning of the four incidents. In addition, an undercover police officer in an unmarked vehicle was parked across from the NHP headquarters when those taking apart arrived, even though it hadn’t been announced publicly until about thirty minutes before it was scheduled to take place. This clearly shows that the police are still closely monitoring (the justification for those earlier illegal arrests involved surveillance by the LVMPD, both online and in person, which was detailed in the arrest reports) the activities of NVCB and the Sunset Activist Collective.

Yet another “coincidence” is that these incidents all took place during the week prior to the second Saturday of the month. This is significant because “Second Saturdays” are the days on which the regular monthly anti-police brutality protests that lead to the arrests for writing things the cops didn’t like with chalk are typically held. And a protest at the headquarters of the BLM was in fact scheduled for that day, although it was postponed by one day (see below) due to the four incidents that week.

The Motives and Previous Examples of Retaliation

Arrested for drawing with Chalk

Arrested for drawing with Chalk

There are no shortage of clear motives for Las Vegas police to go after members of Nevada Cop Block and the Sunset Activist Collective. Members, both individually and as a group, have a long history of being very active within local grassroots organizations. This has often involved acts of civil disobedience and many times has involved direct criticism of the police and their historical lack of accountability. After the murder of Stanley Gibson in December of 2011, a regular, sustained pattern of such protests began.

Metro showed their willingness to engage in retaliation and intimidation against those who would dare to criticize them and their policies by engaging in a targeted and concerted effort to justify arresting us on trumped up charges. Not only did they attempt to characterize drawing with chalk as a graffiti crime, but they also threw in the old standby for “stacking” charges of conspiring to commit the non-crime. In order to do so, they created an actual task force dedicated to investigating, charging, and arresting some people writing stuff with chalk. Also, as detailed in the police arrest reports, they engaged in surveillance of those they wished to arrest. This included monitoring of online and social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc), as well as actual, physical surveillance.

Additionally, even the bogus graffiti charges only allowed for a citation to be issued, which the city had already refused to prosecute, unless the “damage” caused amounted to more than $250. So, in order to arrest the “Sunset 4” they had to convince the county District Attorney to actually prosecute it and they had to inflate the clean-up costs for something that throwing a little water on would remove. All of that (once again) was for some people writing stuff with chalk on sidewalks.

Not surprisingly, there was a rather large uproar within the community once the ridiculousness of the charges and the outrageous $1550 clean up bill was made public. This led to the charges being dropped shortly after and was yet another in a long string of embarrassing incidents that would eventually lead to Clark County Sheriff Gillespie announcing that he would not be running for office again in the upcoming election. The story also got picked up by the AP and received national press coverage, which had the inverse effect of shining a bright light on all the questionable killings and complete lack of accountability toward them that we had been protesting in the first place and which they were trying to intimidate us into not bringing attention to.

Political Prisoners

Political Prisoners

Those arrests were, of course, not the first time Metro has abused their authority or retaliated against someone. In a pretty well publicized incident, they came to the house of the widow of a man they murdered and held her brother hostage until she agreed to allow them to search that house in an (unsuccessful) attempt to find a weapon or some other incriminating evidence to justify their killing of him. Another well known case involves a woman who was arrested while appearing in Family Court after she reported having been sexually assaulted by one of the marshals working at the court. Similarly, a Las Vegas Constable was recently placed under investigation for stalking and sexually harassing a woman and then shooting her dog when she refused his advances. In yet another case, the lawyer for a group of bikers involved in a harassment lawsuit against Metro was himself arrested.

The LVMPD doesn’t limit themselves to retaliating against and harassing everyday citizens, either. It was recently reported by a former Metro captain that the top brass within the LVMPD held an internal meeting to coordinate an effort to dig up dirt on Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak. The reason that they wanted to do so was in order to discredit him after he opposed a proposal to raise Las Vegas area sales taxes to finance the hiring of additional cops (more on that later).

Why Would They Come After Me Specifically?

PointingAtGillespieYT

Pointing at Gillespie

This is something that people not familiar with local police issues and the people involved in those issues might ask. One of the more obvious reasons why I would be chosen is a simple matter of convenience. I’m pretty well known around town for being an avid bike rider and prior to being injured I rode on the average about three hundred miles a week between commuting and recreational group rides. So, if you were going to pick someone to target with a car “accident,” picking the guy who’s on a bike in traffic at least two or three hours every day is a pretty easy choice to make.

However, anyone familiar with Nevada Cop Block‘s and my own actions over the past two years probably already has a pretty good idea of the deeper reasons. I founded NVCopBlock.org shortly after Officer Jesus Arevalo, who was at that time an employee of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police department, murdered (on video) a friend of mine from high school, named Stanley Gibson, on December 12, 2011. While I had been involved for quite a while in activism and anti-governmental abuse issues locally and informally with Cop Block on a national level, this unnecessary, and in my opinion intentional, killing of an innocent, unarmed person that I actually knew made things personal for me.

During the arrest that has already been discussed there were several indicators that things soon became personal toward me for the cops, as well. Not only were several references made to Cop Block or “that Cop Block guy” by people during our booking, but I personally overheard a phone call (once again during booking) in which one of the members of the task force they created to arrest us stated “we got Kelly.” The fact that he mentioned me by name shows that there was some effort to target me personally. (I was actually rather pleased that they displayed such an awareness of Cop Block, since I think it’s important that they know we’re watching them and it showed that we were doing an effective job.)

At the same time, the LVMPD and their lobbyists within the Clark County government were busy undoing reforms that had been created to address the glaring lack of accountability that the much criticized Coroner’s Inquest process allowed. They were, in fact, working to replace those reforms with a new system for reviewing police fatalities that was even worse and less transparent than the original Coroner’s Inquests that had failed to hold even one single cop accountable for shooting someone, even when that person was unarmed and/or completely innocent in the entire history of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

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

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

Knowing that they intended to ensure Stanley Gibson would join Erik Scott, Trevon Cole, Orlando Barlow, and Henry Rowe on the long list of people blatantly murdered by local police for which no accountability would be afforded or even pursued. I and others involved with Nevada Cop Block and the Sunset Activist Collective began staging demonstrations against the circumvention of the inquest reforms and police brutality, in general. This soon evolved into regularly scheduled protests held every “Second Saturday” of the month and came to include writing with chalk as a regular method of exposing police abuses and paying tribute to their victims.

This continued for about nine months before police first tried to intimidate us by issuing us citations for writing on sidewalks with chalk that is specifically sold for the purpose of writing on sidewalks. While those bogus tickets were never even filed, they set into motion the chain of events that led to the even more bogus arrests about two months later. That in turn led to even more embarrassment for Metro after public outrage at the ridiculousness of the charges and inflated clean up costs required to justify them led to those charges being quickly dropped.

MoreCopsFlyerShortly after that, Sheriff Gillespie announced amidst an almost constant barrage of scandals involving the LVMPD that he would no longer be seeking reelection for the next term, but that he would instead be putting his full efforts into passing the “More Cops” tax, which would increase the county sales taxes in order to fund the hiring of additional cops, and that getting it passed would be considered his legacy as sheriff.

Lines Out the Door Against "More Cops"

Lines Out the Door Against “More Cops”

I don’t normally get very involved in the formal political process because it usually amounts to nothing more than a waste of time and resources that could be better spent elsewhere. However, partly because of my desire to connect with and support some very cool people and groups that had supported me while I was in jail and partly because it presented me with an opportunity to bring even more public attention to Metro’s abuses and personally confront those enabling and even encouraging it, such as Sheriff Gillespie and Las Vegas Police Union spokesman Chris Collins, I did become very involved in the fight against the More Cops tax.

Although they kept trying to bring it back hoping to outlast the opposition, ultimately Sheriff Gillespie’s “signature proposal” was defeated and in the process those that spoke out against it were able to bring a lot of attention to the waste and abuses within the LVMPD. Our “graffiti” arrests and the inflated clean up costs used to justify them, were often cited as examples of both those things. During the first time I spoke against the tax, a picture of me pointing at Sheriff Gillespie and calling his decision to refuse a recommendation to fire a cop that had shot an unarmed man because he thought his hat was a gun disgraceful was posted in the local paper as part of the coverage of the Commission’s vote against it.

Also by chance, during the public comments for the final vote a few months later, when the tax was ultimately defeated (until the next sheriff gets into office and brings it back), I actually ended up at the podium at the same time Chris Collins, head of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association – the police union – and was able to reference a previous comment he had made that all the money being wasted and all the people being wrongfully killed “had nothing to do” with the More Cops tax.

Conclusions

That'd be great Metro

That’d be great Metro

Those two instances of public defiance of the two biggest mob bosses in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, along with the ongoing protests and the public embarrassment caused by their previous attempts to bully us into stopping with citations and arrests, would by themselves be enough motive for someone to want to send a message to members of Nevada Cop Block and the Sunset Activist Collective and to want to personally retaliate and try to intimidate me. As was shown by their plan to discredit Clark County Commission Chairman Sisolak, the defeat of the tax increase that was so coveted was enough to make them want to strike back at those involved in opposing it.

Furthermore, their attempts to have us arrested and jailed for four years (contrary to the single year that was widely reported, we actually potentially faced one year for each of the four charges against us) for drawing on a side walk with something that would take a couple minutes to clean up with some water and a broom (and in fact didn’t need to be cleaned up unless someone didn’t want people reading the things written about them), shows their vindictiveness toward us.

Even with all of those reasons to potentially want to go after NVCopBlock in general and myself in particular, it might still seem a bit farfetched that they would actually try to assassinate me with a car. In fact, I hadn’t been on the look for that sort of tactic and wasn’t entirely convinced it was the case until after the “First Friday” incident, simply because it’s so incredibly easy for Las Vegas area police to get away with murder that I always figured if they wanted to come after us they would just shoot at us.

This Offer Still Stands

This Offer Still Stands

However, within the past few days a story surfaced in which a Muslim that the FBI was trying to pressure into becoming an informant actually recorded a federal agent warning him that he “might get hit by a car.” So it’s not exactly a foreign concept to them.

For decades, law enforcement agencies have employed “COINTELPRO” type programs to intimidate, falsely imprison, disrupt, and even kill activists and members of activist groups. On a federal level, the FBI used such tactics against MLK, Malcolm X, Jerry Rubin, Fred Hampton (who was drugged by a police informant and then murdered by Chicago police in his sleep), and even Albert Einstein, based primarily on their political activities and perceived threat to the power that those in authority at the time held. On a side note, while I don’t actually suspect that the Feds were involved in our incidents, someone self-identifying as a member of military intelligence did show up to our chalking actions at the Regional Injustice Center, one of the actions for which we were later arrested.

The “Aftermath” – AKA: Did It Work?

Not gonna Stop

Not Gonna Stop

If that question is taken literally, then it did almost work. As a result of the hit and run, I suffered a pretty severe concussion, a very badly bruised shoulder, and worst of all a compression fracture to my spine (which necessitated the ridiculously uncomfortable brace in the picture at the top of this article that I had to wear nonstop, including while sleeping, for an entire week). While I’m much better and at this point it’s just a matter of some residual pain, I am still recovering from that broken back two months later. I’m also quite certain that had I been hit even a fraction of a second earlier and been more to the center of the car, rather than toward the right corner, I probably would have been killed rather than injured.

However, since I wasn’t killed, the answer is an unequivocal no. If anything it makes me more determined to expose them for the criminals they truly are. Not only did they not intimidate me into stopping, the “Second Saturday” protest that we had scheduled to bring attention to D’Andre Berghardt Jr., the person the BLM murdered out by Red Rock Canyon in February, 2014, went on as planned with just a one day postponement to Sunday. Personally, I think that the fact they felt they needed to take me out just shows that what we’ve been doing is working and getting to them. Plus, I think we owe it to the people that have been murdered in the past without any justice or accountability to keep at it.

Although, both the arrests and the recent incidents have actually caused some of the people who originally came to our demonstrations to back off, the LVMPD and other Las Vegas area police departments can count on the fact that I won’t be going away anytime soon and nothing they do will ever be enough to intimidate or scare me away from demanding true accountability from them.


Still chalking

Support NVCopBlock – Because We Always Support You

Front and Back Examples of Cop Block Press Passes

Front and Back Examples of Cop Block Press Passes

Nevada Cop Block T-shirt

Nevada Cop Block T-shirt

In somewhat unrelated news, Nevada Cop Block recently had personalized Cop Block t-shirts created bearing the fancy new NVCopBlock logo, which is awesome (and I’m not just saying that because I’m the one that designed it). And of course, as always you can still order the Official Cop Block Press Passes via the Nevada Cop Block Site shop.

Additionally, the entire shop has been updated to accommodate the T-shirts and other new items that will be added soon. One of the new features is the ability to use Bitcoin and other “crypto” currencies within the shopping cart, if you’re into alternate currencies. (You can still donate directly to our Bitcoin wallet, also: 1JaQEAyPS71GW2JPPCMqMN53mTGMjVqctT).

Another really cool new feature with the new shop is that it has the option to sign up as an affiliate. What that means is that you can obtain a personalized referral link to share on your own website, Facebook, Twitter, or pretty much anywhere else you can post links. Whenever someone using that link purchases something on NVCopBlock.org, the person assigned to that link will receive 10% of any amount spent. So you can actually make a little money yourself by referring people.

Support Cop Block in Nevada and Get Some Cool Stuff in Return

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Don’t Let Coroner’s Inquest Reforms Become Yet Another Victim of Police Intimidation

Las Vegas Coroner's Inquest

Why are Las Vegas area police so afraid of transparency and accountability?

Tomorrow, Dec. 4th, beginning at 9:30 AM the Clark County Commission is scheduled to vote on proposed reforms to the Coroner’s Inquest process in which killings by Las Vegas area police are reviewed and facts surrounding them are made public.

If you have any desire to see transparency in cases where police shoot people and accountability for those innocent people amongst that rapidly growing number you should do everything you can to attend that meeting and let your feelings be known. (See map below.)

Reportedly, with the exception of Chris Giunchigliani, the commission is preparing to vote against the proposed reforms, which would effectively end the Coroner’s Inquests.

As has been well documented, the original Coroner’s Inquests served more as a dog and pony show where the official cover story was pushed and contradictory evidence and witnesses were minimized or outright withheld. All of which only served to exonerate police when they murdered innocent people rather than as a true fact finding investigation.

The inevitable criticisms and lack of confidence in such an obviously orchestrated and dishonest process led to demands for reforms from the families of people killed by Las Vegas police under suspicious circumstances, several communitty organizations, as well as both the NAACP and ACLU on behalf of victims. The resulting reforms, while not a perfect solution provided for several changes in the Coroner’s Inquest process to bring more transparency and increase the chance for true accountability, such as the ability for the victims to be represented by a lawyer that would have the ability to question witnesses. This in and of itself was an important step forward, since the District Attorney, who controls all the evidence and witnesses presented during the Coroner’s Inquest, has demonstrated a bias toward the police officers involved.

Las Vegas Coroner's Inquests

An all too common in the Las Vegas area lately.

Not surprisingly, the police and in particular the Las Vegas Police Protective Association (LVPPA) have very little interest in a transparent process that might expose the murders their colleagues have committed. The LVPPA in it’s misguided attempts to “protect” police regardless of how glaringly wrong individual cops might be in a case or how negatively that affects the ability of other cops to do their job, has advised police not to cooperate with the new inquest should it be implemented. They also attempted to have the reforms thrown out as unconstitutional via a lawsuit that failed, but required that some minor procedural alterations be made to who was in charge of the inquest proceedings.

Unfortunately, largely because of that refusal to participate by local police, the County Commissioners are reportedly ready to buckle to pressure and scrap the Coroner’s Inquest process altogether. This would be bad for many reasons, not the least of which are that the alternatives are dramatically worse than the already inadequate original version of the Coroner’s Inquest was.

In most cases since the Coroner’s Inquests were put on hold, District Attorney Steve Wolfson has been issuing statements to explain his lack of desire to hold officers accountable for their actions. The fact that he recently stated that Henderson police are actually trained to kick defenseless people in the head repeatedly as a reason for not punishing a police officer in one of those statements doesn’t exactly inspire a lot of confidence in that as a viable substitute.

Nor does the use of grand juries as the other apparent option hold much hope for a fair outcome. As was pointed out on this site a while back, grand juries are highly secretive and in pretty much every other respect, including the DA’s exclusive control over witnesses and evidence, have all the same flaws that the previous Coroner’s Inquest process contained.

The lack of accountability for their actions up to and including outright murder has lead to a shoot first mentality amongst the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and other area police. It’s actually getting to the point where it is hard to keep track of the instances of police involved shooting because they happen so often. Recently approved reforms are the only way to ensure transparency and justice for the families of the victims of questionable shooting by local police.

Further Info and Reasons to Support Coroner’s Inquest Reforms:

Erik Scott

Erik Scott was murdered by Las Vegas Metro police on July 10, 2010. The obvious problems with the Coroner’s Inquest proceeding in his case were likely the final straw that lead to the current reforms.

Statement (via Facebook post) from Bill Scott, Eric Scott‘s father:

Per Lisa’s appeal (below), please consider being at the County Commissioners’ meeting on 4 Dec.

Potential Outcome 1: If the commissioners cave in to the PPA (police union), only the District Attorney will be deciding whether officer-involved shootings were justified. As DA Steve Wolfson has demonstrated, to date, he NEVER finds fault with Metro shootings, because he relies completely on Metro’s flawed “investigations” of OISs.

In a recent case, Wolfson “chose” to not review high-definition security-system video evidence that clearly proved Metro officers shot and killed a young man for no reason (the Olivas murder). If the DA can’t be bothered to look at indisputable data/evidence that counters Metro’s cover-up narrative, how will 1) victims’ families know the facts surrounding their loved ones’ death, and 2) rogue/bad police officers be held accountable for shooting innocents?

Potential Outcome 2: If the county commissioners decide to eliminate the NEW coroner’s inquest process and go back to the long-ago-discredited grand jury process, reviews of OISs will be a secret, closed-door process. The grand jury would be stacked with “citizens” who are cop-friendly, and, again, rogue/bad cops would be routinely exonerated. That outcome is virtually guaranteed, because appointments to the grand jury would be carefully controlled by those friendly to Metro and beholden to intransigent obstructionists, the PPA union.

If the community is to have any hope of holding its police force accountable, getting rid of dangerous “cowboy cops,” and stopping the epidemic of senseless, deadly OISs, it’s imperative that county commissioners modify the NEW coroner’s inquest ordinance to ensure it complies with the recent Nevada Supreme Court ruling.

That’s a simple change to the existing ordinance, but the PPA union is fighting reinstatement of inquest hearings under the new procedures, and any other credible means for “civilians” to hold police officers accountable for their deadly behavior.

Unless hundreds of Las Vegas-area citizens show up on 4 Dec. and explain to the commissioners that murders-by-cops will NOT be tolerated, the PPA will prevail, and the commissioners will cave to union and DA pressure. And killer-cops will never again be deterred from shooting, when less-than-lethal alternatives would be more appropriate.

As you think about whether to expend the time and effort to attend the 4 Dec. meeting, please consider: If Officer Wm. Mosher had been TRULY held accountable for his 2006 shooting, he might have been either in prison, or fired from the Metro police force and not on the streets of Las Vegas on July 10, 2010. And my son, Erik, would be alive today.

Letting PPA union thugs run roughshod over county commissioners and a community has deadly consequences. Erik paid for Metro/PPA thuggery with his life. Who will be the next killer-cops’ victims?

Thanks for your kind support of this vital campaign to restore justice.

Regards,
Bill Scott

The post referencedby Bill Scott in his statement:

When the Government Prosecutes one of Its Own, the Scales of justice are Tipped Heavily Against the Common Citizen

STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHT TO KNOW.

The Clark County Commission will be discussing the coroner’s inquest process for officer-involved homicides on December 4, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. We need the Commission to pass a simple housekeeping measure to allow the inquests to proceed. The Commission needs to understand that the public does not want it to abandon or water down the coroner’s inquests for officer-involved homicides. The LVMPD has a very high rate of officer-involved homicides, and the public deserves to know the facts when a member of the community is killed.

Meet outside the County Commission building at 9:15 a.m. on December 4, 2012. We will have free t-shirts so you can tell the Commission: “START THE INQUESTS. WE DESERVE TO KNOW.”

What is the inquest process?
In December of 2010, the coroner’s inquest process was reformed into a transparent, public airing of the facts when the LVMPD kills a member of the public. The 2010 reforms did not make the process adversarial. They replaced the jury and verdict with a panel and neutral factual findings. To help get at the truth and ensure fairness, they also provided for participation by the officers, family members, and the public. The reforms were responsive to widespread concerns from citizens and the product of a democratic process and public input. The Sheriff supported the reforms and they also had broad public support (including from PLAN, the Las Vegas NAACP, NACJ, and the ACLU).

Why haven’t we had any inquests since reforms were passed?
Unfortunately, the Police Protective Association (PPA) has fought the implementation of the new inquest process, trying to avoid transparency. The Nevada Supreme Court and the U.S. District Court of Nevada have both rejected the PPA’s arguments that the process violated their rights, finding that the coroner’s inquest is a fair process. The Nevada Legislature also refused to abolish the inquest.

How can we fix the inquests?
The Nevada Supreme Court recently held that justices of the peace cannot preside over the inquests under current law. The Clark County Commission can easily fix this technical, procedural issue if it has the political will to stand up to the PPA. The issue regarding who should oversee inquests was not part of the 2010 changes. The pre-2007 had hearing master, oversee inquests. Just like justices of the peace, hearing masters are attorneys. They already oversee non-officer homicide inquests and are qualified to preside over inquests into officer-involved homicides.

Why should the inquest be fixed?

Stanley L. Gibson

Stanley L. Gibson, a disabled Army vet, was murdered by Ofc. Jesus Arevalo on Dec. 12, 2012

The public deserves to know what happens when the LVMPD kills a member of the community, and transparency is needed to restore the trust between the LVMPD and the public. The County has spent significant sums of money and time on the 2010 reform process, to defend the inquest in court, and to lobby at the legislature. That money should not go to waste.

Most importantly, since the 2010 changes were passed, there have been 22 officer-involved homicides. This means that a total of twenty two families now stand in line waiting to learn the facts about how their loved ones were killed. Without an inquest, there is no way for families to get direct access to information about their family members’ deaths. The families and the public that employs police officers want and deserve an open and transparent process in place so they can assess the facts surrounding office-involved homicides themselves.

Is there any reason to wait?
There is no reason to keep delaying. While the PPA has appealed the case it lost in federal court to the Ninth Circuit, there is no stay or injunction in place and nothing stopping the inquest from moving forward. In fact, both the Nevada Supreme Court and the U.S. District Court have already determined that the process adequately protects the rights of officers. Even if the PPA continues to improperly refuse to allow officers to participate regardless of whether the officers have any right to the protection of the Fifth Amendment claim, the inquests can move forward. Enough other evidence—evidence such as dispatch records, other witnesses, reports, and even video in some cases—can tell the story of what happened.

No more excuses. Start the inquests. We deserve to know.

————————————————————————————-

Be there and make your voice heard!


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Justice for Stanley Gibson or Just an End-Around Coroner’s Inquest Reforms?

Stanley L. Gibson

Stanley L. Gibson, a disabled Army vet, was murdered by Ofc. Jesus Arevalo on Dec. 12, 2011

Within the last few days, it’s been reported that Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson is close to reaching a decision regarding the murder of Stanley L. Gibson by a member of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Additionally, reports have stated that Wolfson is “99% sure” that he will seek an indictment against Jesus Arevalo, the officer that fired 7 shots from an AR-15 into the Gibson’s back as he sat unarmed and clearly visible inside his car, which had been pinned and immobilized by several police vehicles. While there has been no official statement regarding what exactly this imminent decision might be or what charges may be sought, informed sources have indicated that within the next sixty days Wolfson will make up his mind whether the case will be put before a grand jury for a possible indictment against Arevalo.

At first glance, putting things in the hands of a grand jury would seem to be a step forward, in that it at least presents a possibility of Ofc. Arevalo being held accountable for his actions that day. Las Vegas police have a long and storied history of avoiding any sort of consequences for their heavy-handed tactics, no matter how blatant and deadly they have been. Steve Wolfson himself hasn’t exactly risen to the occasion when given the opportunity to make Las Vegas area law enforcement pay for their misdeeds.

A large part of the blame for this lack of accountability can be attributed to the long standing practice of determining whether police shootings were justified through the quasi-judicial Coroner’s Inquest process. Badly weighted in favor of exonerating the police rather than investigating the circumstances involved, the Coroner’s Inquests functioned more as a dog and pony show to construct a cover story than a fact finding  effort. As such, it should come as no surprise that only one single police killing was ever found to be unjustified (the DA still declined to prosecute the cops involved). The sheer odds of that being true over the course of 40+ years, including 378 shootings since 1990 alone, attest to the imbalance inherent in such a system.

William Mosher testifies during Coroner Inquest into the shooting of Erik Scott

Accelerating rates of officer involved shootings, many resulting in killings, along with outrage generated by the subsequent questionable exoneration of the police, led to demands to amend the Coroner’s Inquest. An overhaul of the Coroner’s Inquest was approved by county commissioners, including provisions to have victims represented by independent council in order to make the process more fair. However, this revised system of investigating shootings has never been implemented, due to the union representing Las Vegas area police (who not coincidentally believe Arevalo did nothing wrong) has advised them not to participate in Coroner’s Inquest proceedings because of their “adversarial nature.”

However, many of the original flaws within the Coroner’s Inquest system continue to exist and in some cases are even worse when grand juries are used to determine whether police and other officials should be prosecuted for questionable actions. Like the Coroner’s inquest, grand jury proceedings are conducted exclusively by the District Attorney’s office, who works closely with, and is often dependent on the cooperation of, police officers in order to secure convictions in cases they bring to trial. It is entirely up to them what evidence will be presented, who is called to testify, and how those witnesses  are questioned. In the past, prosecutors have often displayed a tendency to construct their cases in such a way so as to paint police in a favorable light. This conflict of interest was one of the most cited issues with the Coroner’s Inquest.

When the Government Prosecutes One of Its Own, the Scales of Justice are Tipped Heavily Against the Truth Coming Out

Even worse is the secrecy of grand juries. Nevada conducts their grand jury proceedings under what amounts to a full gag order. Nobody involved in a grand jury may  publicly disclose any of the evidence presented to the jury, information obtained by the jury, events or statements occurring in front of the jury, or even the results of an investigation by the grand jury. The lone exception to this is individual witnesses, who are limited to discussing their own personal testimony. Breaking these restrictions is a criminal act.

What this effectively means is that the DA’s office and the courts have complete control over what information goes before the jury and what is disclosed to the public afterwards. As lopsided as the Coroner’s inquest was, at least it was a public spectacle that was available to be scrutinized by the community at large. No such transparency exists with grand juries. Basically, a prosecutor can call only sympathetic or unconvincing witnesses and do a half-hearted  effort while questioning them to ensure the jury doesn’t find enough evidence to support a criminal charge and then hold their failure to issue an indictment up as  proof that a shooting was justified. Nobody outside of the grand jury room would be able to refute this assertion since everything took place behind closed doors and none of them are allowed to speak about what they saw.

Fact is, using a grand jury to determine whether police shootings should be prosecuted violates pretty much every aspect of the proposed reforms (from the Nevada ACLU) for the Coroner’s Inquest:

  • Allow the attorneys for both the officers and the victims to participate directly in the process and ask questions during the inquest;
  • Have a neutral presenter of facts that is not the District Attorney’s Office;
  • Be limited to relevant questions about the decedent and the involved officers;
  • Make determinations of fact and leave decisions about whether criminal charges should proceed to the District Attorney;
  • Follow the same Rules of Evidence used in courtrooms (this is one singular exception); and
  • Be fully transparent and open to the public.

Historically, indictments of police through the grand jury have been hard to come by. In general, bringing cases before the grand jury are the exception rather than the rule and there’s a reason for that. As stated by the attorney for the family of a man murdered by police in White Plains, NY after the grand jury decided not to indict the cops:

“…the grand jury is often used to cover politically for a figure, for a district attorney. So if the grand jury indicts, it’s not the district attorney’s fault. They simply presented the evidence, and the grand jury indicted. If the grand jury chooses not to indict, well, then the grand jury essentially is blamed, but that’s an anonymous group of 23 individuals.”

Nor is the idea that grand juries might be used as a smoke screen to protect rather than punish police a new concept. Just a few months ago Albuquerque, NM. suspended the use of grand juries to investigate police shootings after criticism of their use and the fact that (like Vegas) not one single shooting has ever been ruled unjustified:

For more than two decades, police officials have countered criticism of dozens of officer-involved shootings in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County by noting that every case is reviewed by a grand jury…

No one involved in the process can recall a single “unjustified” finding since the process was put in place in the late 1980s in response to criticism of police shootings at the time — even in a case in which the officer was fired and the city paid big bucks to settle a civil lawsuit.

Critics say that’s by design.

“It looks to me like a device that’s designed to give police a pass on shootings,” said Ray Twohig, a longtime civil rights attorney. “The public should have no confidence whatsoever in this process — there’s no independent investigation … The goal is: ‘Let’s not indict any cops…’ ”

Attorney Shannon Kennedy said…it is designed to treat officers differently from ordinary citizens.

“They are basically operating above the law,” she said. “Officers in APD know about this process; they know they will be exonerated. This contributes to more and more police shootings, because there is this culture of no accountability.”

District Attorney Wolfson himself hasn’t exactly inspired a lot of faith that he will do the right thing in cases of police abuse. In “DA statements” that have taken the place of the Coroner’s Inquest since they were put on hold, Wolfson has determined that cops shouldn’t be punished for kicking a restrained man suffering from diabetic shock in the head first because it “wouldn’t be in the community’s best interest” and later because Henderson cops are trained to kick people in the head while arresting them.

That there is enough evidence to support charges shouldn’t be in doubt being that there is a video of the shooting clearly showing that Stanley Gibson didn’t represent an imminent threat and statements by sources within LVMPD have confirmed that Jesus Arevalo knew about the plan to force Gibson from the car without using deadly force. If there was a video of anyone else unnecessarily shooting an unarmed person, that person would be sitting in jail awaiting a trial, not sitting at home on paid vacation like Jesus Arevalo is right now.

To ensure that there isn’t even the appearance of any sort of official favoritism being extended to police officers (or other government employees) Wolfson needs to do the right thing by charging Arevalo directly and placing this case in the hands of a trial jury, rather than gambling on a grand jury issuing an indictment first. A gamble that members of this community aren’t so sure he is willing to go “all in” on. Furthermore, any charges brought should include charge of murder, since that’s what truly happened that day.

57 Comments