Tag Archives: use of force board

Man Beaten by Las Vegas Police For Not Moving Fast Enough Awarded $31,500 Settlement (Update)

About a year and a half ago, Las Vegas Attorney Stephen Stubbs submitted a story to the CopBlock Network about a man who had been beaten by members of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

That man, Dominic Gennarino, could be seen on surveillance video (embedded below) from the Vanguard Lounge, a bar/nightclub located on what is known as Fremont East in Downtown Las Vegas, being assaulted by a group of Las Vegas police officers. One officer in particular, identified as Officer Kolkoski, visciously jabbed Gennarino’s body with his nightstick during the attack and had to be restrained by another policeman.

Prior to that the cops had been clearing people out of the club after a stabbing (which Gennarino wasn’t involved in) took place there. Apparently, Gennarino’s “crime that precipitated that beating was that he wasn’t moving fast enough as he exited the bar, even though the video pretty clearly shows that the large crowd had prevented him from walking any faster.

Of course, once the video was made public the false charges (Obstructing a Public Officer) against Gennarino used to justifying the beating were dropped. Also, in response to the beating and the negative publicity it generated, the LVMPD promised that they were going to implement “fundamental policy changes” in their use of force policies, as well as their procedure for investigating use of force incidents. Those “fundamental” changes that were promised have since gotten some not so glowing reviews by Las Vegas residents, though.

Officer Kolkoski knocks himself down in the process of beating Domonic Generino with his nightstick

Officer Kolkoski in his enthusiasm for beating Domonic Generino knocks himself down.

Not surprisingly, given the history Las Vegas area police departments with regards to accountability, Metro’s Internal Affairs also concluded during their investigation that “the actions taken by employees did not rise to the level of misconduct or was not a policy violation” and those cops caught on camera beating an innocent man for no good reason wouldn’t face any sort of meaningful repercussions for those actions, whatsoever.

Of course, you have to consider that Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson refused to prosecute a group of police officers from the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson after they beat a diabetic driver they suspected of being drunk. The reason he cited for that inaction was because they train Henderson police to kick people in the head at the academy. So, even misconduct and policy violations are fairly hard to come by out here in Vegas with such a low bar of acceptability for pretty much whatever cops want to do on any given day.

In the latest update to this particular story, Stephen Stubbs posted to his Facebook profile on April 14th (2016) that Gennarino had received a settlement of $31,500 to compensate him for the actions taken by those LVMPD “employees.”

In that post (embedded below), Stubbs states:

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department paid my client $31,500 today. He was beaten by police because he wasn’t moving fast enough, and then the police officer lied in the official report.

A special thank you to Jared Richards. We did this case together and Justice won the day.

Dominic Gennarino certainly deserves to be compensated for the assault and wrongful arrest perpetrated against him that day and probably by even more than the amount he received. (Apparently, he was satisfied with Metro’s first settlement offer.) However, as is always the case due to qualified immunity protections, this settlement will be payed by the taxpayers and not in any genuine way personally effect those officers who actually committed the crimes against Gennarino and then lied in official police reports in order to justify doing it.

Related Posts Submitted By or About Stephen Stubbs:

Those of you that have followed CopBlock.org over the past several years are probably already aware that Stephen Stubbs is a frequent contributor of submissions to the Cop Block Network. In addition, I have personally worked with Stephen on a somewhat regular basis through Nevada Cop Block.

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

 

  1. Full Waco Twin Peaks Biker Shooting Videos; Witness Statement Made Public
  2. Know Your Rights Seminar At Las Vegas “Rally For Your Rights”
  3. Waco, TX; Twin Peaks Shootings Arrests – June 10th Call Flood
  4. Nevada Police Chief Resigns After Protecting Animal Shelter Supervisor Who Killed Pets
  5. Fired NV Police Chief Ordered to Pay Punitive Damages in Abuse of Authority Lawsuit
  6. Las Vegas Attorney Stephen Stubbs Found Not Guilty in 5th Amendment Right to Counsel Case
  7. Game Over for Insert Coins’ and Their Abusive Bouncers
  8. Dance, Dance Revolution Protest at Insert Coins Las Vegas- Feb. 26, 2015
  9. Insert Coin(s) Las Vegas Bouncers Beat Man and Obstruct Witness Trying to Film
  10. Las Vegas Police Promise “Fundamental Policy Changes” after Dominic Gennarino Beating
  11. Las Vegas Police Beat a Man for “Not Moving Fast Enough”
  12. Las Vegas Police Agree That You Should Film Them
  13. Free Know Your Rights Seminar in Las Vegas
  14. Attorney Stephen Stubbs Arrested for Refusing to Leave His Client’s Side

 

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Texas Prosecutor Appoints Committee of “Outsiders” to Review Sandra Bland Death

Texas District AttorneyOn Monday, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis held a press conference (see video below) to announce the appointment of a committee to review the suspicious circumstances behind the death of Sandra Bland. This committee will purportedly be comprised of “outside lawyers.” According to to Mathis’ press conference, this committee is expected to present its findings to a grand jury at some point during the month of August.

Via NBC News:

“There are many lingering questions regarding the death of Sandra Bland, and I’ve asked Mr. White and Mr. Jordan to assist me in asking those hard questions and making sure they are answered in a timely and appropriate manner as the evidence takes shape and is presented to my office,” he said.

Sandra Bland, of course, was a young woman who had a history of being outspoken about police brutality and racism by the police and who supposedly killed herself in jail after being arrested for a minor traffic offense. The fact that she was arrested at all, as well as the unnecessarily aggressive behavior of Trooper Brian Encinia during that arrest, have caused national controversy. In addition, the idea that she would kill herself over such a minor offense and after having expressed a desire to fight the charges within the days prior has been questioned.

On the face of it, an investigation by an outside group, rather than the typical “investigation” conducted by the co-workers of the cops that committed a questionable killing, would seem to be a step in the right direction. However, as has been pointed out on CopBlock.org previously, grand juries are typically used to cover up crimes by public officials, not to seek true justice.

Click Here (Spoiler, the grand jury was a sham.)

Click Here to read this previous post. (Spoiler, the grand jury was a sham.)

When citizens go before grand juries, the overwhelmingly common result is for an indictment to follow. On the other hand, the complete opposite is true when police are the subject of grand juries. Indictments of cops are almost unheard of. A big part of that is because the evidence, witnesses, and questions asked are controlled by the district attorney’s office, which is often friendly with and dependent on the cooperation of police to win their cases.

Another complication is the fact that grand juries are a secretive process, where witnesses, jurors, and everyone else involved can be criminally prosecuted if they divulge what went on during the case. As a result, any improprieties are covered up by default. Essentially, prosecutors can intentionally “throw the game” by putting on evidence that supports the police version of events and avoiding questions that don’t and nobody even knows what went on. So contesting those actions is both illegal and close to impossible.

The idea that a jury saw the evidence and decided not to indict the cop is cited as proof that the police were in the right. However, the jury only sees the evidence and hears from the witnesses that the D.A. wants them to. It’s an old story with a predictable ending.

Another question that has to be asked is just how much of an “outsider” the lawyers on this committee will be. Police review boards, even those presented as independent “civilian” boards, have typically been stacked with police supporters and used as a ploy to legitimize police findings rather than genuinely investigate their actions.

Here in Las Vegas, the “Use of Force” board was on paper comprised of one half civilians and the other half police officers. However, the reality was that those civilians primarily consisted of ex-police officers from other states or the family members of police. Once criticism was raised about that, people with a connection to police were banned from being used as civilians on the board.

Not long after that, a majority of the civilians serving on the reformed board resigned after their recommendation to fire a cop who confused a hat with a gun and shot a man was disregarded. Thus was exposed the other reality of “independent” review boards. Police departments typically ensure that, even if they don’t follow the script, they have no real teeth with which to take a bite out of police crimes.

Grand Jury Rubber Stamp

Justice or a Rubber Stamp?

It’s still early in the game with this particular “outside committee” in Texas, but there are already some questions about whether these outsiders are really going to just be hand-picked ringers. Lewis White and Darrell Jordan, the lead attorneys on the committee, are both former prosecutors. That includes a year with the Waller County (where Sandra Bland was arrested) District Attorney’s Office for White and over eleven years as an assistant district attorney for Jordan.

Darrell Jordan also has a background of seeking political office, which isn’t necessarily incriminating, but often necessitates courting the support and endorsements of police departments and the unions that represent officers within those departments. If he has future aspirations for elected office he might not want to cross them. There’s also an interesting and maybe very telling skeleton in his closet.

Back in 2007, Jordan’s law firm was sued over a “pump and dump” investment scheme, where stocks for shell companies are artificially inflated and then sold abruptly, creating huge profits for those in on the scheme but rendering the vast majority of investors’ stocks worthless. During the run-up to the lawsuit going to trial (a settlement was eventually reached), one of the lawyers in Jordan’s firm was caught attempting to destroy evidence that was subject to discovery requirements, but that heavily incriminated their firm.

Jordan, who was the managing partner of the firm at the time, served as the executive committee liaison during an investigation into that incident. In spite of the documents in question being retrieved from a garbage can outside of Dallas and the existence of photos of them being dumped there, that executive committee failed to find any proof of wrongdoing. Later Jordan himself drew comparisons to Sgt. Schultz from “Hogan’s Heroes” for his claims of not knowing anything about the incident involving the documents being taken to the outskirts of the city and thrown in a secluded dumpster during a deposition for the case.

Forgive me if I’m a bit uninspired by the prospects of these “outsiders” conducting a proper investigation and doing anything except rubber-stamping the official story down there in Texas at the moment.

banner-storeIf you liked this article check out “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: the LVMPD’s Killer Reputation.

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: The LVMPD’s Killer Reputation

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

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

A Community in Fear

Not too long ago I attended a meeting of the Clark County Commissioners concerning a vote over the process that would be adopted to address shootings by Las Vegas area police. Prior to the vote that eventually happened (after all the important stuff like giving a certificate to a group from a retirement home whose most lauded act was alerting neighbors if they forgot to close their garage door), members of the community were allowed to address the commissioners regarding the issue.

One speaker after another stepped to the microphone and it wasn’t long at all before a common theme began to develop. Statements such as, “I’m afraid of what will happen if I call the police,” “I would never call the police even if I was in real danger because I’m scared more of them,” and “I don’t trust them not to kill someone if I call them for help” were recited over and over again throughout the session. These fears were often accompanied by personal examples of negative experiences resulting from interactions with Las Vegas area police, including several from the families of people that actually had been killed by the police.

Legitimate Reasons to be Afraid

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.

Obviously, every time the police respond to a call they don’t kill or otherwise abuse the people they encounter, even in Las Vegas. However, it happens often enough to instill the sort of fear and hatred toward them that was on public display during the commissioners’ meeting that day. The problem is that people within the community know that should something happen to them or one of their loved ones at the hands of a member of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department they have very little hope of that cop ever being held accountable for their actions. They don’t know that the cop responding wants to kill them, but they do know that if they do they will get away with it.

The bigger problem is that members of Las Vegas area police departments also know this. Jesus Arevalo told his then-wife that he wanted to shoot someone so that he could get free time off, based on the policy of placing cops on paid leave during investigations. Within a couple of months after that statement, Stanley Gibson, an unarmed, disabled Persian Gulf veteran suffering from a PTSD induced panic attack and in no way representing a threat to anyone was murdered by Jesus Arevalo. Those seven unnecessary shots fired from Ofc. Arevalo’s AR-15 were the ticket to what is fast approaching two full years of the paid vacation that he had indicated he was hoping for. No charges were ever brought against him for his actions, which even other police on the scene characterized as unexplainable in their official statement to the detectives subsequently going through the motions of an investigation. At worst, Arevalo might possibly be punished by being fired.

A Long History of Corruption and Violence

The Biggest Gang in Las Vegas

The Biggest Gang in Las Vegas

Throughout their history, the LVMPD has consistently rated among the highest statistically nationwide (even when compared against cities with much higher populations) in times they have shot at people while on duty and in the level of fatalities resulting from those shootings. Stanley Gibson was just one of the latest names in the laundry list of the victims of Las Vegas police that includes Erik Scott (whose murderers were later given an award for bravery while gunning down someone from behind and then unloading their guns on him as he lay already dying on the ground), Trevon Cole, Orlando Barlow, Tanner ChamberlainDeshira Selimaj, and Henry Rowe, among the 150+ shootings just since 1990.

Yet not one singular time in the close to forty year history of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has a Las Vegas area police officer ever been charged for shooting someone, regardless of whether the person shot was unarmed or even completely innocent of having committed any actual crime. One rather telling fact is that the reason the old Las Vegas city police was originally merged with the Clark County Sheriff department to create “Metro” was in response to an uproar after a very questionable shooting that was ruled justifiable. Yet, no matter how questionable the many shootings by Metro have been, the justifications have continued unabated.

An Absolute Refusal to Hold ANYONE Accountable

Finally someone within the Las Vegas police system has made some sort of stand for justice.

Finally someone within the Las Vegas police system has made some sort of stand for justice, but will it actually matter?

A recent incident has shined a very public spotlight on the reasons why it is so impossible to hold anyone  within the LVMPD accountable for their actions. In one of the most questionable shootings ever Officer Jacquar Roston claimed to have confused a hat Lawrence Gordon was wearing for a gun and shot him in the leg as he sat in a car. As would be expected of anybody with even half a brain, Metro’s internal Use of Force Review Board didn’t really accept that excuse and recommended that Roston be fired  as a result.

The fact that this recommendation was hailed as an “unprecedented” act by the board tells you a lot about the past history of the Las Vegas police in relation to officer involved shootings. The fact that Sheriff Gillespie promptly disregarded that recommendation in favor of a one week unpaid suspension (after Roston had already spent 8 months on paid vacation during the investigation) tells you a lot about the prospects for any sort of accountability for them in the near future.

However, in one glimmer of hope for some sort of prospect for justice, seven members of the board did actually have the integrity to stand up and resign in disgust after Gillespie’s disgraceful action. One former member of the board, Glenn Rinehimer, stated that previously the board had been “stacked” with retired police officers from other parts of the country designated as civilians. According to Rinehimer, they didn’t seem in any hurry to actually investigate whether shootings were justified. “The retired police just didn’t seem interested,” Rinehimer said. “They didn’t ask a lot of questions. They voted quickly for it to be justified.”

Robert Martinez, a co-chair of the board who also resigned, had previously expressed hope that this sort of rubber stamping had ended once former police employees and their family members were banned from being appointed as civilians on the board last year. He believed that Metro truly desired a fair and transparent process. That is until Gillespie essentially exonerated Roston despite the board’s unanimous recommendation. “I was thoroughly fooled,” Martinez said. “I thought it was going to change and it isn’t.” Within his resignation letter Martinez characterized the process as a flawed one that undermined the Use of Force Review Board.

Sheriff Gillespie announcing that the final week of Roston's 8 month vacation will be unpaid.

Sheriff Gillespie announcing that the final week of Roston’s 8 month vacation will be unpaid.

Former Assistant Sheriff Ted Moody, who submitted for retirement in response to this case, agreed that Gillespie was undermining the credibility of the board even as Metro faces increasing scrutiny over questionable shootings and other scandals that are becoming hard to even keep up with lately. Las Vegas police officers will not have the public’s trust until the department has a credible process for reviewing its own shootings, Moody stated. And that process must be stable, impartial, unbiased and free from political interference. “Anything short of that is going to fuel further suspicion and mistrust and is just begging for the imposition of externally imposed oversight,” he said. “Nobody wants that. We can be better than that.”

Rinehimer went even further in his assessment of the problems with a system that is in practice designed to ensure no cop is ever held accountable. Rinehimer said the sheriff’s decision to overturn the Use of Force Review Board’s recommendation doesn’t set a good precedent, especially for officers who find themselves in similar situations in the future. “At the end of the day, the officer might be sitting there smiling, knowing the sheriff might not fire him anyway,” Rinehimer said. “It’s a farce.”

A Lack of Accountability that is Not Good for Anyone, Even the Police Themselves

The inevitable backlash

The inevitable backlash

There’s an obvious incentive for members of the community to demand accountability for the heavily armed band patrolling through the streets that they live and work. If those individuals are permitted to act as an occupying force with the impunity to do as they please to those within that community, those among their ranks that have an unscrupulous tendency will take advantage of that to commit criminal and violent acts.

However, there are reasons why even those within the local police departments should want to see accountability for those “bad apples” that we are always being told are just exceptions to the rules. Fear eventually gives rise to hostility and working within the bounds of a hostile environment makes someone’s job just that much harder to do. People within communities don’t feel real obligated to help with the investigation of crimes when the person doing the investigation is perceived as being as bad or worse than the people being investigated.

Having to deal with indifference or even active retaliation in the process only serves to make the job of the police more difficult and frustrating, which in turn makes them more bitter and cynical and leads to even more abuses. At some point, that downward spiral needs to be put to an end and the only way to do that is to create real accountability, rather than a hollow, toothless sham that does nothing but draw attention to the lack of it.  And as Sheriff Gillespie recently found out, people are a lot less accepting of having their taxes increased in order to supplement the LVMPD’s budget during an almost daily barrage of news about yet another police scandal.

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