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Erik Scott’s family asks to view evidence before inquest

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Sam Morris

Notes are printed on a photo during a celebration of life service for Erik Scott on July 17.

Updated Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010 | 1:36 p.m.

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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 »

The attorney representing the family of Erik Scott, who was shot and killed by Metro officers in July, has filed a motion requesting that Scott's family be able to view evidence before the inquest Sept. 22.

In the motion filed with the Clark County coroner, district attorney and judge on Wednesday, attorney Ross Goodman said the Scott family should be allowed to attend a pre-inquest hearing and preview all evidence so they can submit meaningful questions, which would be addressed during the inquest.

"The inclusion of the family during the pre-inquest process substantially enhances public perception that the family is provided an opportunity to equally digest the evidence in advance of the inquest in order to meaningfully prepare written questions," the motion states.

In doing so, Goodman said the family also should be allowed to inspect a hard drive and back-up drive that allegedly contains video surveillance from inside the Summerlin Costco on July 10, the day of the shooting.

The motion also asks that the inquest jurors receive "accurate and complete jury instructions," a point of controversy in the previous inquest in a June 11 officer-involved shooting that killed 21-year-old Trevon Bertwane Cole at his home.

After the Cole inquest ended Aug. 22, which determined a Metro officer was justified in shooting Cole, opponents argued the inquest process doesn't clearly instruct jury members about the meaning of the three possible rulings — justifiable, excusable or criminal.

In the motion, Goodman said that during the Cole inquest "The jury was instructed that 'homicide that is not justifiable or excusable, as defined in these instructions, is a killing by criminal means' without defining 'criminal means.'"

Before the inquest, the jury should be given a definition of "criminal means," according to the motion.

Goodman said Metro's unwillingness to release any evidence to the family so far and the outcome of the Cole inquest prompted him to file the motion, which is the first of its kind.

"I thought it was critical to try and get the judge to order something, which no one should have a problem with — which is letting the family see evidence," he said Thursday.

The coroner's office, district attorney and presiding Judge Tony Abbatangelo all have acknowledged receiving the motion, Goodman said, but it's unclear how they will proceed.

Even so, Goodman said he is optimistic the judge will grant his request.

"I didn't waste my time doing this motion," he said. "It's permissible."

Goodman, who called the inquest system a "one-sided process," said the root of the problem is that the district attorney can control the case by choosing which witnesses will attend and what portions of their witness statements and recordings to introduce to the jury.

Given that the district attorney is intended to be a "neutral presenter of the facts," Goodman said: "If that's the job, why should they have a problem disclosing evidence to the family?"

"The mutual disclosure will also serve as a check and balance mechanism to ensure that the prosecutor is acting as a 'neutral presenter of the facts,'" Goodman said in the motion.

That way, the family can think of meaningful questions after digesting the evidence rather than being forced to submit questions on the spot during the inquest, Goodman said.

The inquest, which will determine whether the officers were justified in shooting Scott, will begin at 9 a.m. Sept. 22 and could continue through Sept. 24 at the Regional Justice Center, according to the coroner's office. County commissioners decided this week the inquest will be shown on the county's TV channel, Cox Channel 4.

Scott was killed July 10 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.

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  1. Easy prediction: Request denied!

  2. lp - Are you for real? He was carrying because he had a permit to carry! Only a fool takes the time to qualify for a carry permit and then NOT use it. Witnesses reported that he DID NOT have a weapon in his hands and that police were barking conflicting orders at him. Mr. Scott was not a Sheep, he was prepared to defend himself if necessary. Some people "lp" actually believe that random violence can not occur once he is in his store of choice. Wake Up, violence rears its ugly head whenever and wherever it wants to including schools, military bases, hospitals, police stations, courts and yes even stores like Costco. Shooting Mr. Scott in the back 5 times as he lay dying on the ground is no way to deal with a customer shopping at Costco. We need more people like Mr. Scott and less like the officers that handled this call. RIP Erik Scott.

  3. "he was a medical supply delievery(sic) man'

    "Don't bother replying because I am not going to come back and read it. I am board with this stupid story."

    Icare2009 --Your actually mean that you're done making up stuff for today.

  4. <Also, according to the paper he made something like $17K per month--that's quite a substantial income (and amount of responsibility) for a guy who is supposedly out of control and dangerous>

    What does money have to do with it? He just had the money to fuel his drug habit. And maybe that money made him more arrogant then he should have been (carrying TWO guns? That's says something. It's Vegas, not Afghanistan.) Since when does financial status have anything to do with someone being out of control and dangerous? Poor argument, cop hater Dale5050. And being a West Point Grad also doesn't preclude someone from being out of control and dangerous and doesn't guarantee that person has good character. He was violent towards his women. Right there says a whole hell of a lot.

    Posters on the police payroll!!!!! You're an idiot!!

    Let me ask you something, Cop Hater Dale - have you ever been a victim of a crime?? Ever have a gun stuck in your face? My guess is NO. Until YOU, the coward that you are, walk in a police officer's footsteps or have been a victim of a serious crime - you know nothing.

  5. <Someday soon we will take back our police force and end this litany of corruption and abuse of power!>

    You are so naieve. Or just plain stupid.