Published Friday, Sept. 24, 2010 | 8:42 a.m.
Updated Friday, Sept. 24, 2010 | 6:21 p.m.
- Unidentified caller from within Costco talking to dispatchers
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- Shai Lierley on the phone with dispatchers
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- Metro Police radio traffic during the July 10 officer-involved shooting that left Erik Scott dead
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- Officer in Costco shooting says man raised gun, didn't know it was in holster (9-23-2010)
- Day 2 blog: Officer in Costco shooting: ‘He was a deadly threat with that weapon’ (9-23-2010)
- Inquest testimony focuses on Erik Scott’s use of prescription drugs (9-22-10)
- Day 1 blog: Witness says Erik Scott appeared 'dazed,' aimed gun at officer (9-22-10)
The inquest has adjourned for the day. Proceedings will begin again at 8 a.m. Saturday.
The last witness to testify today was Barbara Fee, who was waiting in line with her granddaughter when they were told to evacuate the store.
Her granddaughter pointed out that there was an officer with a gun by the door.
Fee said she heard the officer yelling at Scott to get down, but he didn't.
She saw Scott reach for something on his side and then bring his right hand up and point something directly at the officer.
Fee said she couldn’t tell what was in Scott’s hand, but his hand was pointed, “directly at the cop.”
The officer fired, and she looked away while pushing her granddaughter behind her, Fee said.
When she looked back, she saw Scott face-down on the ground and a black object on the ground.
After the shots were fired, she heard a woman screaming, “You shot him, you killed him.”
Fee said she was worried Scott was going to shoot the officer.
“I was hoping he wasn’t going to shoot the cop, but with a gesture like that I thought somebody was going to get shot,” she said.
She told police after the shooting that she didn’t think the officer had any option to shoot Scott.
“Thank God the officer was faster,” she said in her statement to police.
Christopher Villareale was shopping at Costco the day of the shooting and also is a concealed weapon permit holder.
Villareale said he was one of the last people to leave the store and wasn't far from Scott when he was shot.
He testified that an officer yelled at Scott to get on the ground, “And Mr. Scott is just standing there not doing anything.”
Scott then lifted his shirt with his left hand and someone yelled “no, no,” Villareale said.
Scott then pulled his right arm forward with a gun in his hand, he said.
Villareale said it appeared to him that Scott was holding the gun by the handle, but he couldn't tell if the gun was in a holster since the gun was black.
The officer shot Scott, who turned, dropped the gun, was shot again, then fell to the ground.
Scott’s girlfriend yelled before the shooting that Scott was in the military, and once shots were fired, she became hysterical, Villareale said.
Villareale said he was involved in an incident previously in which he had to pull a gun on somebody, then deal with police when they arrived, so he has safely disarmed with a police officer present.
But Scott didn't respond in a similar and appropriate way, he said.
"He was acting in a way that I would think was not consistent with what would be the appropriate way to act in that situation," Villareale said.
He said he knew the officer thought someone could be harmed during the situation.
"I thought he did the right thing shooting him," Villareale said.
When asked during a question from an interested party, Villareale said it didn't look like Scott was going to hand the gun to the police, but he also didn't point the gun at the officer.
When shown a photo of the gun on the ground outside the store, Villareale said it was the same gun that Scott dropped.
Arlene Houghton, another Costco cashier, also testified she saw Scott and his girlfriend while they were entering the store.
She said they walked behind her register, coming from the membership desk, when Scott tripped and fell on the belt by the register, even though there was nothing to trip over.
His girlfriend grabbed Scott and propped him up on the shopping cart for support, Houghton said.
Scott looked up at Houghton and said “I guess I really am ('messed') up,” Houghton said, adding that his eyes were glossy.
About an hour later, Houghton said she was near the cash registers helping to evacuate customers when she heard gunshots.
She went toward the entrance and saw a police officer holding a gun so she stayed inside the store, she said.
John Nikitas, a Costco cashier, said he saw Erik Scott and a woman walk through the store. He heard Scott say to the woman that he shouldn’t have been in the store while he was drunk, Nikitas said.
He saw Scott knock a “closed” sign off a counter when he walked by, he said.
After being told to evacuate the store, Nikitas said he saw police officers outside.
The officers told Scott to put his hands up and get on the ground, Nikitas said. He said Scott did neither.
He was 40 to 45 feet away when Scott left the building, but the officers were loud so he was able to hear them, he said. Another employee dropped to the ground after hearing the officer, he said.
Scott moved his hand toward his right side and the officers fired at him, he said.
Nikitas said the woman with Scott started screaming after shots were fired. He didn't see a gun fall from Scott's body, but he saw it on the ground later, he said.
Wentworth Eatherton, the husband of the previous witness, Annette, said he called into a public radio program recently when he heard Scott’s father and attorney saying things about the shooting that he said weren't true.
Eatherton said they claimed the police didn't need to shoot Scott and that the police were only 2 feet away, but that wasn’t true, he said.
Eatherton recalled words he heard Scott say while in the aisle at Costco.
"As we went by, Annette and I heard him say, 'well, I can do this in Texas.'" He and his wife talked about what that could mean as they walked down the sporting goods aisle and headed for the lettuce.
Wentworth said he told his wife that the only thing he could think of was that it was a reference to a gun.
"He was acting like he was irritated about the conversation (with the Costco employee)," he said.
Wentworth said that inside the store, he didn't see if Scott had a gun on him.
Eatherton said outside the store they heard an officer tell Scott “don’t touch it,” and “get on the ground.”
He saw Scott move his hand on his right side, then the officer shot him.
After he was shot, he saw a gun in a “gun rug” fall from Scott’s right side and slide about 4 feet in front of him.
He said he later noticed the gun was gone.
Eatherton said the gun in a holster shown to him in a photo by Chief Deputy District Attorney Christopher Laurent wasn't the gun he saw.
Las Vegas resident Annette Eatherton was shopping at Costco when she saw Scott in the store and then again outside when he was shot.
Eatherton said she and her husband saw Scott talking to another man in the store where Scott was trying to fit bottles into a bag.
After they were told to evacuate, they went to the front of the store and saw Scott and a police officer.
The officer told Scott to get down on the ground, but Scott moved his hand from the front of him toward his right hip, Eatherton said.
The officer yelled “don’t do that,” but Scott continued to move toward his hip, she said.
The officer then shot Scott, she said. Scott turned after he was shot and fell.
The officer was calm and professional, but was stern, she said.
Scott’s gun, in its holster, fell and slid on the ground toward the officer after Scott was shot, Eatherton said. She heard a woman with Scott screaming after he had been shot.
The assistant store manager who confronted Erik Scott before Scott was shot testified that the man was acting strangely, his eyes were glossed over and “he did not seem right.”
Vince Lopez was called over to talk to Scott by Shai Lierley, a loss prevention supervisor who testified Thursday. On his way to talk to Scott, an older couple approached him and told him they were concerned about a man, who was Scott.
Lopez said he approached Scott and asked him what he was doing. Scott said he was trying to get water bottles to fit in a bag, but Lopez said Scott was trying the same type of bottles over and over again, even though they obviously would not fit, and he had opened multiple packages.
Lierley pointed out that Scott had a gun and Lopez backed off before approaching again to tell Scott that Costco does not allow guns since it is private club and not open to the public, he said.
Scott became irritated when Lopez told him about the policy, Lopez said. Scott became agitated and began using foul language, he said.
That is when he noticed that Scott’s eyes were glazed over.
Scott held his hands in the shape of a gun and pointed them at Lopez’s head, saying that if someone came in and held a gun to his head that he would take care of it, Lopez said.
Lopez said he was concerned and left Scott alone because he was worried about Scott’s actions.
By then, Lierley was on the phone with 911 and told Lopez to go to the front of the store. The officer told Lopez to not let anyone else in the building and to evacuate the people inside.
Lopez said he then left to help the evacuation and was in the back of the store when he heard gunshots.
In a question submitted by an interested party, Lopez was asked if he felt threatened by Scott.
“He was acting in a very threatening manner when I was talking to him, yes,” Lopez said.
Lopez testified this wasn't the first time the video system had malfunctioned.
"We have had problems off and on with our system," he said.
In fact, it has malfunctioned recently.
"It hasn't worked the past few days -- we just got it back up and running yesterday," he said.
He said he knew of some Costco stores that had no video surveillance at all.
"The security cameras aren't something that we rely on to do our day-to-day business," he said.
Lopez said a number of people would have access to the video equipment before it was taken to see if the video could be recovered, but the managers were told not to touch it.
The coroner’s inquest has resumed after an hour lunch break.
The district attorney is playing the recording of an interview with another Costco customer who lives outside the United States.
Caroline Lagerholm, from Sweden, was visiting when she was at the store and saw police at Costco.
She said she saw a man with his shirt up and a gun at his waist.
Lagerholm said she heard the police officer tell the man to put the gun down, but she saw the man reaching for the gun.
She then turned to run when she heard gunshots, but she didn't know who fired.
Lagerholm said the man was moving kind of slowly as she watched him from near a pillar outside a store. She thought he could have been on drugs, and told the officer the man was "kind of weird-acting."
She said she thought she heard the officer give the man commands.
"I think he said, 'put the gun down, put the gun down.'"
Lisa Holzgruber, a foreign exchange student, was at Costco when she was told by an employee to evacuate.
Holzgruber did not appear at the inquest since she is out of the country, but the district attorney played a recording of an interview with her conducted by police the day of the shooting.
She was outside the store when she saw a police officer and a man near the store's entrance. The man lifted his shirt and she saw a gun in his waistband, Holzgruber said.
The man was “going for the gun with his hand,” she said.
She then heard gunshots and started to run.
Holzgruber said she couldn’t tell what the man was doing; he may have been drawing his gun or maybe he was going to give the gun to the officer, she said.
She said she thinks she heard the officer tell the man to drop the gun, but she wasn't sure.
The inquest is now adjourned an hour for lunch.
Javier Torres, a Costco manager, said he saw Scott on his hands and knees in an aisle at the store trying to put bottles into a cooler.
But before he could approach Scott, he says Scott turned and asked him if Costco sold the holders for the bottles. Torres told him no, and Scott seemed a little irritated, Torres said.
Torres said he noticed other store employees were watching Scott, so he left.
“He wasn’t acting normal,” Torres said. Scott seemed agitated, maybe nervous, and possibly impaired.
"He seemed like he was on drugs to me," he said. "I'm not sure what kind of drugs."
Torres later heard instructions to evacuate the store. He was going toward the front of the store when he heard the gunshots, but he didn't see the shooting.
Torres said he didn't think the evacuation was because of Scott; he figured it was because of a bomb threat or something else. Torres said Scott didn't seem violent and he didn't see a gun.
Jerome Dwight Arcano, a Costco employee, testified that he saw Scott in an aisle at the store throwing things on the ground and trying to tear a box.
“He was acting unusual,” and he seemed paranoid, pacing the aisle like he was worried about someone watching him, Arcano said.
He also said Scott had a red mark on his neck and he thought Scott might be on drugs.
Arcano reported what he saw to management and left the area, he said.
He later heard the store was being evacuated. Arcano said he and other employees and customers ran to the back of the store because they didn't know what was happening.
Javier Torres, a manager at Costco, began testifying after Arcano.
Linda Bem, the Costco employee who helped Scott sign up for a Costco membership earlier that day, is testifying.
Bem said Scott had a hard time understanding her instructions and filling out the proper forms.
Scott’s thought process seemed not to be working correctly, she said. Scott was able to have a conversation, but his responses were not as quick as they should have been, she testified.
His handwriting was illegible and he was writing things in the wrong places, Bem said. Scott then had his girlfriend fill out the form for him and she had no problems.
Scott seemed agitated, but wasn't violent, Bem said. She noticed Scott’s knuckles were bleeding.
Bem reported the odd incident to her supervisor.
“I sensed something was terribly wrong,” she said. “He was confused, his thought processes were very, very slow ... Quite frankly, I was worried about him.”
Bem later evacuated the store and heard shots, but didn't see the shooting.
In a recorded interview, Scott’s girlfriend, Samantha Sterner, describes what happened at Costco on July 10.
Sterner said she saw Scott talking to a store employee, but “he was not irritated. The Costco employee did not seem irritated. Neither one of them was hostile.”
She said neither one of them threw anything in the store. Scott went to get another shopping cart, then an employee told her to evacuate, she said.
Scott returned and they agreed to walk out to the car and drop off the gun. She said while they were walking out of the store, they saw a police officer.
“He immediately draws his weapon, immediately, without hesitation,” Sterner said in the recording.
The officers told Scott to get on the ground, she said. Scott put his hands above his head, tried to tell the officer he was going to disarm and then slowly moved his right hand down to the gun, Sterner said.
Sterner said she kept screaming at the officer: “'Do not shoot, he’s a concealed weapons holder, he’s a military officer, do not shoot.'”
“I said it a million times,” she said.
She said the officer shot Scott once, then Scott started to fall back before the officer shot him twice more. She said she didn't see any other officers fire.
Sterner said in the recording she thinks the officer would have fired no matter what Scott did.
“He was extremely aggressive from the get-go,” she said. “I just think this officer was out of line.”
Sterner also said Scott never held the gun by the handle and it never came out of the holster, but he did hold the front of the gun to try to disarm.
Falkner said he tried to contact Scott’s girlfriend, Samantha Sterner, but the phone number he had for her was not working. He left a subpoena with a man who said he was her brother at an address he found for her.
Falkner then said he contacted family attorney Ross Goodman, who said he wasn't sure if she would appear.
Since she never was found, she wasn't legally served with a subpoena to appear.
Falkner said he also ran into Goodman at the courthouse and asked him to provide a list of witnesses, but Goodman has not done so, Falkner said.
Goodman has told the media he has other witnesses to the shooting who haven't been contacted by the district attorney’s office.
The attorneys are now playing a recording of an interview done with Sterner on the day of the shooting.
“He carries a gun everywhere he goes. This has never happened before,” Sterner said in the recording after describing being asked to evacuate the store by a Costco employee.
Erik Scott’s girlfriend was subpoenaed to appear at today's coroner's inquest, but has not done so, said William Falkner, an investigator in the district attorney's office.
Falkner had asked Ross Goodman, the Scott family attorney, if there were any other witnesses he wanted to testify.
Reports have indicated Goodman has 20 to 30 witnesses to testify, but he has not provided a list of them to the DA despite being asked in phone messages and in person.
The inquest is taking a 10-minute break.
William Falkner, an investigator in the district attorney's office, is next to testify.
Mosher has finished answering questions from interested parties. About 200 questions were submitted for Mosher, many with multiple parts, but not all were asked by the judge, who said some had already been answered or weren't appropriate.
Mosher said he didn't expect Scott to walk out of the store. “We were in a standby mode waiting,” he said.
The officers were waiting for their sergeant and more officers to arrive before coming up with a plan to enter the store and make contact with Scott, possibly with a shield and some less-lethal weapons, Mosher said.
Mosher described the gun recovered at the scene as a Kimber 9mm, still in its holster. He said he believes the holster is manufactured by Uncle Mike's, and it is similar to one he owns for one of his guns.
The holster is made of cloth, he says. Although he personally hasn't tried it, he said he believes a person could slip their finger inside the holster and fire the gun without removing it from the holster.
A second firearm was found on Scott's body by medical personnel in the ambulance while he was being taken to UMC, Mosher said he later learned.
When questioned about why he didn't use a nonlethal method to resolve the situation with Scott, Mosher said, "We're not trained to subdue people with a firearm with nonlethal means."
Asked if he ever used his crisis skills with Scott, Mosher said, “I would like to have done that and taken him into custody without this happening, but there was no chance to do that.”
The officer said he drew his weapon before reaching the store entrance.
Mosher said he knelt on Scott’s back to handcuff him. He didn't see a large amount of blood, but he did see bullet holes.
Most other people in the area got away quickly when they saw the officers with their guns drawn, Mosher said.
One question from an interested party -- which includes Erik Scott's family and Ross Goodman, the family's attorney -- asked Officer William Mosher if it was typical for an officer to pull his weapon several hundred times in a few years. Mosher said it is normal for a Las Vegas officer to pull his weapon frequently.
Asked what makes someone a deadly threat, Mosher said: “Their actions.”
But Scott was not a threat until he reached for his weapon, Mosher said.
“As soon as he reached for it, he was a deadly threat,” he said.
Mosher said he followed procedure to handcuff Scott after he was shot, but did not follow procedure to search the body because he felt Scott was already deceased and he did not want to move the body. He did not think Scott would be taken to the hospital, he said.
He also said there were only a few officers at Costco to deal with a large crowd of people that had gathered and what had become an active crime scene. He took charge as senior officer to assign other officers to put up crime scene tape and move Scott’s girlfriend, who was screaming, Mosher said.
Under questioning, Mosher describes himself as a believer in the 2nd Amendment and says he is a member of the National Rifle Association.
"I think CCW is a great thing," he said.
However, Mosher said it is illegal in Nevada to carry a weapon when under the influence of drugs or alcohol, so police had an obligation to investigate the calls they received about Scott.
The officers had been told Scott might have been high and Mosher said he noticed the man’s bloodshot eyes.
Mosher testified that he didn't administer CPR to Scott after the shooting and he didn't see anyone else perform CPR.
He also said he had been told Scott refused to leave the business, but the main motivation for his response was because of the way he was acting in the store and the fact that he had a weapon.
Metro Police Officer William Mosher, one of three officers who shot Erik Scott, said he is a member of Metro's crisis intervention team and has gone through extra training to deal with situations that might involve people with mental issues.
Normally he would try to talk to a suspect in an incident, Mosher said, but since Scott had a gun, he said that wasn't possible.
“With the details we had and the fact that he had a weapon, that’s not really the time to talk,” Mosher said.
He also said he only observed Scott’s behavior for about 30 seconds between the time Scott was pointed out to him and shots were fired.
Mosher, who is a Marine, said Scott, a West Point graduate, should have known how to safely surrender a weapon to an officer, but he didn't act in an appropriate way.
One of the written questions directed at Mosher asked if he felt any remorse for shooting and killing Erik Scott.
He responded: "Remorse? Absolutely."
The coroner’s inquest into the shooting death of Erik Scott on July 10 outside a Summerlin Costco has started for the day.
Officer William Mosher, one of three Metro officers who shot Scott, has returned to the stand to answer questions submitted to Judge Tony Abbatangelo by interested parties.
The coroner's inquest into the death of Erik Scott by Metro Police is running behind schedule this morning.
The jurors and judge entered the courtroom just before 8:40 a.m. The proceedings were to begin at 8 a.m., but at 8:30 a.m. court officials were testing audio in an overflow room. Inside the courtroom, officials with the district attorney's office and Scott family attorney Ross Goodman were waiting before the arrival of the judge and jury.
Officer William Mosher’s testimony is scheduled to resume this morning with questions from interested parties, which includes the Erik Scott family and Goodman. Mosher is one of the three officers who fired his weapon at Scott, killing him.
Scott was killed July 10 at the Summerlin Costco.
Also, it's been learned that an agenda item has been filed with the Clark County Commission regarding the inquest process. Commissioner Steve Sisolak filed the item for the board's Oct. 5 meeting.
Sisolak's request says the item is "to discuss and make recommendations regarding the Coroner's Inquest Process, Clark County Code 2.12.080. This discussion is meant to include possible changes to said code, the possible formation of an advisory committee to make recommendations in this regard and/or the presentation of various processes that are currently in place in other jurisdictions, and other areas or issues related to the coroners inquest process which may be presented. This item is meant for discussion purposes, staff direction and possible action."
The Scott family, through its attorney, responded by releasing a statement at 6:43 a.m. today.
"We are very excited with the request by Commissioner Sisolak to place this item on the October 5th agenda to begin the discussions and consider the recommendations for change to the Coroner's Inquest Process. The process we have experienced over the last two days limit's our ability to find the truth by properly questioning witnesses regarding their testimony. We do not have the knowledge of their recorded statements. Challenging the last few day's testimony with facts that we know to be true is not possible given this process. We thank Commissioner Sisolak and the other Commissioners who will support this request. It is our hope that the Commission can find a place to give credit to our son Erik. His death then would not have been meaningless, but rather a catalyst for improving the Coroner's Inquest process for the community of Las Vegas."