A National Model For Police Reform?
On Wednesday evening, the LVMPD held an event (without a single hint of irony) at the Las Vegas Mob Museum to pat themselves on the back and anoint themselves as a “National Model for Police Reform.” Not even 24 hours later, on Thursday morning, they officially announced that they were dropping the previously filed charges against Officer Kenneth Lopera for one of the most blatant and well documented murders of a Las Vegas citizen in the history of this city.
As has been documented numerous times previously here at NVCopBlock.org, on Mother’s Day in 2017 Officer Lopera chased after Tashii Brown, a man who had approached Lopera and another LVMPD officer to ask for help. He then repeatedly tased, physically assaulted, and choked Brown to death inside the parking garage of the Venetian Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Tashii Brown was unarmed at the time and was not physically aggressive toward anyone prior to (or even during) Lopera’s murderous attack.
By Metro’s own admission within their official investigation, Brown was also completely innocent of and not even suspected of a crime that day. Therefore, Lopera had no legal justification to even detain Brown let alone use deadly force against him. Regardless of that, Officer Lopera not only ignored the fact that Brown was already being held down by several Venetian security guards, but even the orders of other officers that eventually arrived and continued choking him until he died.
That fatal attack and Lopera’s refusal to stop, even when ordered to by his supervisor, was captured on video from multiple angles by both his own body camera and several security cameras at the casino. As a result, he was later charged with involuntary manslaughter and “oppression under the color of law.” In spite of the inadequacy of those charges, the LVMPD was heralded for charging a police officer with a crime related to an on duty killing for the first time in the history of Las Vegas.
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.
Grand Juries: The “Secret Weapon” That Facilitates the Cover Up of Police Murders
About six months later, the proverbial writing was on the wall when it was announced that a grand jury would be “reviewing” the charges against Lopera. As anybody who follows the “investigations” of police officers accused of the unlawful use of force already knows, grand juries are the favorite tool of district attorneys looking to give those officers a pass.
As has already been detailed previously here on Nevada Cop Block, grand juries are completely under the control of the district attorney conducting them. Even worse, by law they are a secretive process, where participants (including the jurors themselves) can be jailed for publicly discussing anything that goes on during the hearing. This conveniently makes it very easy for DAs to present a weak case or even present witnesses and evidence beneficial to the officers being accused without anyone knowing.
It also allows them to contend that they tried, but the case just wasn’t strong enough. “See we did what we could but the grand jury wasn’t willing to file an indictment. There just wasn’t sufficient evidence to warrant charges. That murder you saw on video obviously didn’t happen.”
A Stacked Deck and the Predictable Outcome
Even with the hidden nature of the grand jury, it couldn’t be more obvious that District Attorney Steve Wolfson was making sure Officer Lopera wouldn’t see a minute behind bars for the murder he committed. One of the more obvious giveaways was the involvement of the Force Science Institute, a Minnesota-based research group that cannot point to a specific time it did not side with police according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Others are even more to the point about the intent:
“If Force Science is the only one presenting, that is a loaded deck,” said University of South Carolina professor Geoff Alpert , who has studied police use of force for more than 25 years…
“DAs, politically, don’t want to prosecute Police Officers,” attorney Randy McGinn said.
But taking those cases to a Grand Jury can be problematic for the public because everything is conducted in secret, she said.
Bill Lewinski and his institute, however, give an out to attorneys in politically inconvenient positions, according to McGinn.
“You send it to him because you know in advance what the outcome is,” she said. “He’s going to say that it’s justified.”
If you didn’t already know by the simple fact that it was being retroactively “reviewed” by a grand jury, that should have been your clue that the fix was in. Frankly, I’d like to be surprised by today’s announcement that they had determined Tashii Brown died because of a pre-existing heart condition that just happened to coincide with the minute and a half that Officer Kenneth Lopera was choking him. It’s pretty much impossible to actually be surprised by the absolute lack of accountability within the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department at this point, though.
Statement From Tashii Brown’s Mother, Trinita Farmer
Metro Officer Lopera killed my son, Tashii. Tashii was defenseless on his back before Lopera used a taser seven times on him. When that wasn’t enough, Lopera started beating Tashii with a fist on his head. Not satisfied with the beating, Lopera choked Tashii to death and bragged to an officer that he “choked him out.” After killing my son in public, the grand jury secretly exonerated Lopera. Welcome to Vegas, where police can kill a defenseless human being, brag about it, and then get away scot-free. I hope the public is as outraged as our family is at the killing of our son, father and brother. For no reason! No reason at all! Tashii was a good man. He did not deserve this.
Incidentally, like all the other families of the victims of police violence Tashii Brown’s mother, Trinita Farmer, has been struggling both emotionally and financially since he was murdered. In order to help alleviate some of that financial burden, a GoFundMe account (www.gofundme.com/tashii-brown039s-mom) to collect donations has been set upon her behalf. I very much encourage you to donate what you can and/or share the link.
Body Camera Footage of the Murder of Tashii Brown by LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera
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- Tashii Brown’s Mother Calls For Murder Charge Against Las Vegas Cop At “What Happened in Vegas” Screening
- Mother of Tashii Farmer-Brown to Hold Press Conference After “What Happened in Vegas” Screening at Anthem Film Festival
- LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera Only Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter For Murder of Tashii Brown
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- The Rotting Barrel of Bad Apples That is the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department “Leadership”
- Yes, All Cops ARE Bastards; How and Why Modern Policing Discourages Moral Responsibility
- Tashii Brown-Farmer Asked For Help; LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera Tased And Choked Him To Death Instead
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- #FTP – How and Why You Should Always Film The Police
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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.
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