Tag Archives: tourist safety division

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

LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera Grand Jury Manslaughter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ploy by Police & Prosecutors to Drop the Charges?

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

Las Vegas Metropolitan Officer Kenneth Lopera

LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera

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

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

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

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

Statement by Tashii Brown’s Mother Trinita Farmer

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

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

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

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

Related Posts

Tashii Brown-Farmer Asked For Help; LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera Tased And Choked Him To Death Instead

Unarmed and Seeking Help, But Tasered and Then Choked to Death Instead

Shortly after midnight on May 14th, Tashii Brown-Farmer approached two Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers inside the Venetian Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Stating that he was being chased by someone, Brown-Farmer requested help from Officer Kenneth Lopera and a partner who has not yet been named. Although Brown-Farmer had a history of mental illness and was described as “acting erratically” at the time, there has been no indication or allegation that he was behaving violently at any time that night. He also was not armed in any way whatsoever, nor was there any indication that there was ever any reason to believe he might be armed.

Instead of being dealt with as someone seeking help, Brown-Farmer was instead treated by the officers (who ironically are part of the tourism safety division of the LVMPD) as someone that needed to be arrested. This caused Brown-Farmer to feel threatened and run away, initiating a chase through an employees area of the casino and eventually into the parking garage of the Venetian. That is where Officer Lopera caught up to Brown-Farmer and proceeded to taser, beat, and eventually choke him to death.

In the end, Tashii Brown-Farmer was tasered seven times, punched repeatedly, and finally placed into a “rear naked choke hold” for over a minute until he was no longer conscious nor breathing. Shortly after, he was pronounced dead at the hospital. The video embedded below shows body camera footage of the entirety of that chase and the deadly conclusion, in which Officer Kenneth Lopera unnecessarily decides to practice his mixed martial art skills on a man who is already being held down by at least two Venetian security guards.

Note: The media and the police have referred to Brown-Farmer both as “Tashii Brown” and “Tashii Farmer” (during their initial press conference, the LVMPD also spelled his first name wrong, excluding the second “i” that belongs at the end) without any official explanation for the discrepancy .

Bad Rationalizations and Media Complicity

The justification given for the deadly violence that Officer Lopera unnecessarily inflicted on Brown-Farmer was the typical “he wouldn’t comply” mantra that is often used. However, you can clearly see in the video that Lopera began using his taser on Brown-Farmer without allowing for much time at all for him to follow his orders. He then continued yelling at and tasing a man who was already having mental health issues.

The other thing that is readily apparent in the Venetian surveillance videos (embedded below within the full press conference video) is that when Ofc. Lopera began punching and hitting Brown-Farmer security guards from the casino had already began holding him down. Even more unnecessary than the punches Lopera threw was the choke hold he soon used to choke the life out of Brown-Farmer.

Not only were the security guards already there, but not long after numerous Metro police officers also arrived. There was no reason for Lopera to start choking him in the first place and there was no reason for him to continue choking him for over a minute, even after he had already lost consciousness. In spite of the initial claims released by the LVMPD, Brown-Farmer never attempted to use violence against anyone, including Officer Lopera at any point during this entire confrontation that Lopera initiated and then escalated.

However, not surprisingly, the local media has asked few questions about the official narrative and instead even allowed Metro’s PR department to downplay controversy by initially describing the prohibited rear naked choke hold as a “department authorized neck restraint.” They’ve also yet to challenge the LVMPD’s claim that Brown-Farmer was attempting to car jack the truck that was entering the parking garage as he ran by. Contrary to that claim, which the driver of the truck himself states he didn’t believe to be the case, the video only shows Brown-Farmer briefly touching the tailgate as he stops running. Not attempting to open it and not trying to enter the front (or any other part) of the truck as has been stated.

Instead, the LA Times published a fluff piece that was probably printed word for word as it was received from Metro’s PR department fawning over how “transparent” the LVMPD has become when they murder someone.

The Inevitable Smear Campaign

Of course, the one consistency with Metro is that they never fail to dig up dirt on their victims to try and deflect the attention away from the violent, unnecessary, and unrelated crimes of their officers. Brown-Farmer’s previous criminal record was displayed and highlighted during the press conference, including a murder charge that he was not convicted of. When Officer Kenneth Lopera confronted, chased, and then choked to death Tashii Brown Farmer, he was not at all aware of any of that information. Nor was that in any way relevant to the actions that Lopera took and that were clearly documented on video that night, regardless.

During that press conference, Undersheriff Kevin McMahill also continuously (and purposefully) referred to Brown-Farmer as “the suspect,” in spite of the fact that he was not actually wanted for or even suspected of any crime whatsoever. McMahill even admitted that had he not died Brown-Farmer would not have been charged with any crime. In reality, he was someone that was experiencing a medical issue. In fact, Officer Lopera’s treatment of Brown-Farmer as a suspect for a non-existent crime is what prompted him to run away in the first place.

As you can see in the video below, these type of smear campaigns are business as usual for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police (and other departments). It’s also especially hypocritical given the skeletons within Undersheriff McMahill’s own closet.

A Continued Lack of Accountability At The LVMPD

In spite of the PR campaigns they orchestrate and the willingness of the media to unquestioningly support those phony claims of “transparency” and progress, the simple truth remains that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department still has never held a single police officer within the history of their department accountable for killing someone. Regardless, of how questionable or downright unbelievable the circumstances are behind them, they get a free pass and nothing more than a paid vacation every single time.

Nothing about this case or Metro’s handling of it, indicates that it (or any other case in the near future) will be different.