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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statement by Tashii Brown’s Mother Trinita Farmer

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

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

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

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

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

“What Happened in Vegas” Trailer

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Mother of Tashii Farmer-Brown to Hold Press Conference After “What Happened in Vegas” Screening at Anthem Film Festival

What Happened in Vegas Documentary LVMPD Tashii Farmer Brown

Following a screening of “What Happened in Vegas” on July 20th, 2017 at the Anthem Film Festival, which is part of Freedom Fest in Las Vegas, the mother of Tashii Farmer-Brown will give her first press conference.

Trinita Farmer, whose son was killed on May 14th by a police officer in a parking lot outside the Las Vegas Venetian Hotel, has previously refused requests for interviews. Tashii is featured in the documentary, which includes moving footage from his funeral. The funeral was closed to the press.

What Happened in Vegas,” directed by Ramsey Denison, documents four murder cases in which all of the victims were killed by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) officers: Tashii, a black man who was choked to death after asking a police officer for help; Trevon Cole, a small-time drug dealer; Erik Scott, a decorated ex-army officer and West Point graduate shot in a Costco parking lot; and Stanley Gibson, a disoriented combat army veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

Also attending the post-screening press conference will be family members of the other victims; director Ramsey Denison; Larry Burns, a 27-year veteran of the LVMPD and former candidate for sheriff; and Neill Franklin, executive director of LEAP (Law Enforcement Action Partnership).

The film screening is open to members of the press and begins at 3:20pm PT.  The press conference will follow the film at approximately 4:50pm PT.  Both events will take place in the Versailles 3 room of the Paris Las Vegas Conference Center, July 20, 2017.

Members of the media who wish to request credentials to the film screening and/or to the press conference should contact Norann Dillon at [email protected] or 855-850-3733 x206.  Media are asked to check in at the main registration desk in the Exhibit Hall (Concord Ballroom).

For information on the Anthem Film Festival, contact Jo Ann Skousen at [email protected] or 407-620-9025.

The Anthem Libertarian Film Festival focuses on films about individuality, choice and accountability. It is part of FreedomFest, an annual event that brings together over 2,000 attendees and 250 speakers with sessions on public policy, history, science & technology, art & literature, health & wellness, investments and economics. FreedomFest has been called “the world’s largest gathering of free minds.”   This year’s conference runs July 19-22, 2017, at the Paris Las Vegas.

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

“What Happened in Vegas” Trailer

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“What Happened in Vegas” Anti-Police Brutality Documentary to Show at Anthem Film Festival (Freedom Fest) July 20th

What Happened In Vegas Ramsey Denison LVMPD Documentary Movie Police Brutality

On July 20th at 3:20pm, “What Happened in Vegas,” the documentary by director Ramsey Denison about police brutality, corruption, and cover-ups within the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (AKA: “Metro“) will be screening during the Anthem Film Festival. The annual film festival, which takes place from July 19th to the 22nd, is part of Freedom Fest, which is also held annually here in Las Vegas.

The screening will be held at the Paris Hotel and Casino, which is located on the Las Vegas Strip. Passes for an entire day, as well as all access passes for the entire festival, can be purchased in advance at their online ticket link. (Freedom Fest tickets are also available at the same link.) In addition, tickets for individual screenings can be bought at the door for $10.

As has been previously reported here at Nevada Cop Block, What Happened in Vegas premiered at the Ciniquest Film Festival in March and received rave reviews from critics during multiple showings there. This will be the second screening held here in Las Vegas. Previously, in April, the movie showed at the Las Vegas Black Film Festival and won the award for best documentary.

What Happened in Vegas focuses on the murders of Trevon Cole, Erik Scott, and Stanley Gibson by Las Vegas police officers and the cover ups of those murders by the leadership of the LVMPD. All three of those shootings were extremely controversial and heavily debated at the time they took place within Las Vegas.

However, none of them received widespread coverage by the media outside of Las Vegas. That lack of publicity for police killings and the role the local media, politicians, and casinos play in that is a major focal point of the movie. In addition, several cases of police brutality, racial profiling, and false arrests by members of Metro are also highlighted.

(Full Disclosure: I am personally in the movie. Stanley Gibson was a personal friend of mine and I also contributed general knowledge about other cases that I have learned through involvement with Nevada Cop Block and police brutality activism within Las Vegas.)

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

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

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

Trevon Cole and Bryan Yant

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

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

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

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

Erik Scott and Costco’s (Conveniently) Malfunctioning Camera

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

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

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

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

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

Stanley Gibson and Jesus Arevalo

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

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

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

Beaten and Arrested for Reporting Police Brutality

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

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

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

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

Shining a Light on the Darkness within the LVMPD

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

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

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

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

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

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