A Culture of Corruption
Demanding bribes from pimps. Planting evidence. Fabricating testimony. Shooting and killing citizens with impunity. Committing perjury. What do all of these things have in common?
Regular visitors to this site know the answer immediately. This is about the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) and its long history of corruption. When you think of the term “history,” you think of past events. Unfortunately, the history of corruption within the LVMPD continues to repeat itself and is ongoing to this day.
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.
Shootings, Killings, and Cover-ups
In 2011, the Las Vegas Review Journal, troubled by two officer-involved shooting deaths that occurred in the summer of 2010, did a comprehensive investigative report analyzing shootings that had occurred in the previous 20 years by all Las Vegas police departments. The Journal ended up focusing on the LVMPD.
The Journal found that national statistics are hard to come by. Only 16 police departments around the country provided the reporters any information. An analysis of those responses revealed that the LVMPD ranked third in officer-involved shootings per capita, coming in behind only Houston and Chicago.
Between 1990 and 2010, the LVMPD reported 378 officer-involved shootings with 142 of those resulting in deaths. The LVMPD’s Use of Force Review Board cleared more than 97 percent of 500 claims it received, which included the shootings along with other allegations of use of force incidents. The Journal-Review found that it is rare for any officer to be disciplined for shooting and killing anyone.
With the corruption history of the LVMPD, and its reputation for lying about shootings, twisting stories, engaging in cover-ups, planting evidence, and getting away with its misconduct, the officers who often claim “he had a gun” are given as much credence as the fabled story of the young sheep herder crying “wolf.”
A LVMPD officer who is involved in a shooting and killing is generally “punished” by, just a period of paid administrative leave. The Journal also found that the department is:
- Slow to weed out problem cops; and
- Slow to adopt policies and procedures that protect its officers and citizens with whom they come in contact.
There is little indication that anything has changed since this November 2011 report. History is not just repeating itself, but the incidents of officer-involved shootings are escalating. In 1990, there were only two such incidents. In 2010, there were 25 shootings, eight of them fatal.
By the end of the first week in April 2018, there had already been five officer-involved shootings involving the LVMPD. Two of those who were shot were killed. The most recent killing as of this writing, that occurred on April 6, 2018, started out with a traffic stop. The driver got out of the car holding a gun, but dropped it on the ground. The cop who killed the man reported that the victim was reaching for the gun on the ground and shouted to the police, “shoot me.”
As is customary in cases like this, the story of the two officers involved conflicted with the statements of witnesses who were at the scene. The witnesses claimed the dead man was not reaching for his gun and shouted, “Don’t shoot me!” As usual, the officers involved are now on paid administrative leave, also known as vacation, pending an investigation.
Abusive Searches, Planting Evidence, and Perjury
Allegations and documentation of LVMPD’s abuse have been around for years. In 2005, a motorist was charged with drug possession after drugs were found in his car by a drug-sniffing dog. As it turns, out, the drugs were placed there by the LVMPD “as a training exercise” for the canine. The charges were based on the sworn, but false, testimony of the two involved officers.
The Citizens Review Board recommended the two officers be fired. But, that is not how the LVMPD works. Instead, the officers were suspended without pay for an undisclosed period of time.
The Head of Internal Affairs was charged in 2016 with perjury related to her conduct in a 2013 case. The judge assigned to hear her case recused himself. He said he could not be fair because previous experience with the woman had already convinced him she was a liar. (Note: That officer, Yesenia Yatomi, has since been promoted to Captain and placed in charge of an entire area command. – Editor)
Death by cop followed by paid administrative leave followed by reinstatement and no criminal charges being filed against the shooting police officer is not the only type of corruption that the LVMPD is noted for. Bribery, sexual assault, illegal searches, committing perjury, and planting of evidence are also skills possessed by many LVMPD officers.
Current FBI Corruption Probe
The 8 News NOW I-Team discovered the FBI has been investigating LVMPD corruption tactics in two specific cases. The investigation apparently began in 2013 and involves an interesting cast of characters: alleged and confirmed pimps; women who admit to being prostitutes; vice cops; and, even the prosecuting attorney.
In a nutshell, two convicted pimps are asking for new trials based on the misconduct of at least four police officers. The convicts claim that the officers were apparently “in bed” so to speak, with their competitor, whose mission was to put them out of business. Since both men are serving life sentences, the scheme appears to have worked.
Now, evidence has surfaced indicating that the four involved vice cops were being bribed. Two of them were having sex with the main prosecution witness, coaching her and “scripting” her testimony. Officer Chris Baughman, the main officer who admitted to having sex with the woman, as well as with other prostitutes who came to him to seek protection, has recently exercised his Fifth Amendment right and refused to answer when questioned under oath about his actions in the criminal cases.
Baughman was also alleged to be having a sexual affair with his boss, a Vice Lieutenant during the time the investigations and prosecutions were taking place. He is now married to the Deputy District Attorney who prosecuted the two cases in question and who is also accused of coaching witnesses.
Instead of assisting the FBI into uncovering the true story of corruption, the LVMPD is fighting back and resisting all efforts of the defense to depose the involved officers or any other vice officers who may have information about the corrupt activities of the four specific officers alleged to be at the heart of the corruption scandal.
The judge in the case has now set aside three days in May 2018 to hear testimony concerning the corruption and to decide on whether to grant one of the convicted pimps, Ocean Fleming, a new trial. (Update: Fleming dropped his appeal in exchange for a plea deal that makes him immediately eligible for parole. Under his previous sentence, he would not have been eligible for parole until at least 2025. – Editor)
Note: This post was submitted as a guest post by Gabriel L. Grasso. Grasso is a federal criminal defense attorney currently located in Las Vegas with over 25 years of legal experience, including having served as the Assistant Public Defender for Broward County, Florida. Within that capacity, he represented both private and court-appointed defendants in all manner of criminal matters, with an emphasis on major felonies in the areas of drug trafficking, life felonies, and firearms offenses.
In 2000, Grasso moved to Las Vegas and became licensed to practice law in Nevada. Since that time, he has defended many high-profile criminal cases in both state and federal court. Past Nevada cases Grasso has been involved in include successful representation of defendants in the “Rolling 60’s Crips” and “Hells Angels” federal prosecutions, as well as the “311 boys” in state court. In 2007, he became Las Vegas counsel for O.J. Simpson and was part of the defense team which represented Mr. Simpson in the infamous Palace Station Casino memorabilia case.
On a personal level, Grasso enjoys traveling, Las Vegas history, and spending time with his family. He can be contacted via www.grassodefense.com or by phone at (702) 868-8866 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
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- “What Happened in Vegas” Didn’t Stay in Las Vegas; Police Brutality Documentary Premiers at Cinequest
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: The LVMPD’s Killer Reputation
- Don’t Call the Pigs: An Informal Guide to Alternative Policing Within an Anarchist Justice System
- A Video Compilation of Las Vegas Area Police Brutality
- Donate to the Cause – Help Us Help You Fight The Power
Kelly is a lifelong resident of Las Vegas, who’s been very active in local grassroots activism, as well as on a national level during his extensive travels. He’s also the founder/main contributor of Nevada Cop Block, served as editor/contributor at CopBlock.org and designed the Official Cop Block Press Passes.
Connect with Kelly at these social networks; Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.