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October 21, 2014

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Metro mails Costco customers to find witnesses in police shooting

Erik Scott Vigil

Miles Plannette carries his gun Tuesday during a candlelight vigil for Erik Scott, who was killed outside a Summerlin Costco by Metro Police last month. Launch slideshow »

Summerlin Costco Shooting

Metro crime scene investigators, officers and detectives mill about the entrance of the Costco store in Summerlin after the shooting July 10, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Metro Police have mailed and faxed about 120 letters to Summerlin Costco customers in hopes of finding people who might have witnessed events tied to an officer-involved shooting that killed Erik Scott.

Metro spokesman Jacinto Rivera said the letters were sent to people who might have witnessed anything before, during or after the July 10 shooting in an effort to piece together a complete picture of events.

Scott, 38, was killed at the Costco store after authorities say he pointed a gun at an officer, prompting three officers to shoot him. Some witness accounts have contradicted Metro's version of events.

"If anyone does come forward, we definitely want to talk to them," Rivera said Tuesday. Metro investigators have started interviewing people who have come forward after receiving the letters, he said.

According to a letter dated Aug. 12 sent to one Costco customer, police used Costco membership card records to determine which customers were shopping around the time of the shooting.

"We are committed to doing a complete and thorough investigation of this incident and ask that you contact us at your earliest convenience," the letter states. "It is important that you contact us whether or not you believe you may have witnessed or have knowledge of some portion of this incident."

Rivera said Metro investigators are still waiting to see video footage of the incident captured on Costco security cameras. A computer hard drive was sent to an off-site facility to attempt to retrieve the footage, he said.

Autopsy and toxicology reports won't be released to the public until the coroner's inquest, he said, which is typical for officer-involved shootings.

The coroner's inquest, originally scheduled for Sept. 3 to determine whether the officers' actions were justified, was postponed and hasn't been rescheduled.

The family of Scott, a West Point graduate with a concealed weapon permit, has denied Metro's version of events and has since launched a campaign to raise awareness about the incident — both at the local and national level.

They bought ad space on Las Vegas billboards asking witnesses to come forward, flew banners over the U.S. Open of Surfing in California directing people to a website they created, and organized a candlelight vigil last week at Costco to mark the one-month anniversary of his death.

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Text of a letter obtained by the Sun that was sent to a Costco customer:

Dear (customer's name):

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Homicide Section is asking for your cooperation in an important matter. We are investigating the circumstances which lead to an Officer Involved Shooting. Our investigation indicates that your Costco membership card was used to make a purchase at the Las Vegas Summerlin Costco store, 801 Pavilion Circle Drive, not long after 12:00 p.m. on July 10, 2010. You, or the person using your card, may have witnessed portions of an incident which occurred during the time you may have been shopping at the store.

We are committed to doing a complete and thorough investigation of this incident and ask that you contact us at your earliest convenience. It is important that you contact us whether or not you believe you may have witnessed or have knowledge of some portion of this incident.

We ask that you contact either Homicide Detective Barry Jensen at (702) 828-3605, Email [email protected], or Homicide Detective Peter J. Calos at (702) 828-1959, Email [email protected]

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Lewis Roberts, Lieutenant

Homicide Section

Robbery/Homicide Bureau

Investigative Services Division

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