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Detective: Erik Scott had pain medicines from several doctors

Testimony on inquest’s fifth day centers on Scott’s weapons, witness accounts

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Steve Marcus

Metro Police Detective Peter Calos holds a .45 caliber handgun owned by Erik Scott during a coroner’s inquest for Erik Scott at the Regional Justice Center Monday, September 27, 2010.

Erik Scott Coroner's Inquest - Day 5

Metro Police Detective Peter Calos holds a .38 caliber handgun owned by Erik Scott during a coroner's inquest for Erik Scott at the Regional Justice Center Monday, September 27, 2010. The gun was said to be found in Scott's pocket by medical workers in the ambulance. Launch slideshow »

Erik Scott Coroner's Inquest - Day 4

Costco customer Karen Passarelli-Krause wipes away a tear while testifying during a coroner's inquest for Erik Scott at the Regional Justice Center Saturday, September 25, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Erik Scott Coroner's Inquest - Day 3

Costco shopper Barbara Fee demonstrates how she saw Erik Scott raise his right arm toward a Metro Police officer as she testifies during a coroner's inquest for Erik Scott at the Regional Justice Center Friday, September 24, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Erik Scott Coroner's Inquest - Day 2

Metro Police Officer William Mosher testifies about shooting Erik Scott during a coroner's inquest at the Regional Justice Center Thursday, September 23, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Erik Scott Coroner's Inquest - Day 1

Bill Scott, Erik Scott's father, listens to testimony during a coroner's inquest at the Regional Justice Center Wednesday, September 22, 2010. Launch slideshow »

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  • 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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Peter Calos, the Metro homicide detective who oversaw the investigation into Erik Scott’s July shooting death outside a Summerlin Costco, testified Monday that Scott had a high number of prescriptions for pain medications from different doctors, one of whom never treated Scott as a patient.

Calos said the doctor, whom he identified as “Dr. Pierce,” told investigators after Scott’s death that “he did not know Erik Scott and had not treated him professionally.”

During the investigation, Calos learned that Scott’s girlfriend, Samantha Sterner, used to work for Pierce but was no longer employed there.

A state database of prescription drugs, cross-checked with Scott’s medical records, yielded evidence that Scott had been prescribed “an inordinate amount of pain medications,” Calos said.

In addition, Scott’s and Sterner’s prescription histories seemed to match.

“What I noticed was some tremendous similarities” in the medications prescribed to both Scott and Sterner, Calos said on the stand.

Testimony at different points throughout the inquest indicated Scott took prescription narcotics to treat pain from injuries that flared up after a car accident, but Calos said no injuries were reported in crashes that involved Scott.

In 2010, Scott was involved in three traffic accidents: One in January, one in April and one within days of the July 10 shooting.

According to a police report, in his most recent traffic accident, Scott told investigators he didn’t see the car he struck because he was adjusting a medical device in his car. Scott, a West Point and Duke University graduate, was a medical device salesman.

Calos also testified about the weapons found after Scott was shot to death. He showed the jury a Ruger .380 semi-automatic handgun and a .45-caliber Kimber single action pistol.

The Kimber was found in its holster not far from where Scott’s body landed after he was shot. The Ruger was found in Scott’s clothing as he was being taken to the hospital.

Jurors also were shown copies of Scott’s concealed carry permit for the weapons, as well as copies of gun registrations, which Scott carried in his wallet.

It wasn’t clear if Scott was licensed to carry one of the guns because the manufacturer’s name was different than what he was carrying, although the two guns were similar, Calos said. Scott’s concealed carry permit indicated he was authorized to carry a number of weapons; however, what was on the permit for the .380 was a Kel Tec, not a Ruger.

Under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Chris Owens, Calos said it was a crime to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

He also said it was a felony to be in possession of a firearm while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Outside of eyewitness accounts of the shooting, much of the testimony has centered on Scott’s use of prescription painkillers.

Bullet fragments and casings were found at the scene, Calos said. The casings show that Officer William Mosher fired twice, Officer Thomas Mendiola fired four times and Officer Joshua Stark fired once.

Neither of Scott’s weapons had been fired, Calos said.

One witness Monday – the fifth day of proceedings in the coroner’s inquest – said the second and third officers who shot at Scott used “gratuitous violence.”

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Costco shopper Howard Brooks, a public defender, testifies during a coroner's inquest for Erik Scott at the Regional Justice Center Monday, September 27, 2010. Brooks is demonstrating how a Metro Police officer shot Scott.

Howard Brooks, a criminal defense attorney, said he had finished shopping when he noticed three police officers as he left the store. The first officer had his gun out.

“He seemed very nervous and aggressive,” Brooks said.

He then noticed two more officers with their guns out.

Brooks said he took his purchases to his car, then returned to the front of the store to see what was happening.

He saw a large crowd of people leaving the store and was told by another customer they were evacuating because of a man with a gun inside.

He said Scott walked out, then he heard the first officer yell “drop it” and instantly fire his gun.

“It is absolutely immediate,” Brooks said.

He said he heard part of the 911 tape of the shooting played on the news and he knows his story doesn’t match. It is possible he didn’t hear everything since he was 25 feet away, he said.

“Obviously I didn’t hear everything, but what I heard was the officer say ‘drop it’ and bam, bam, bam,” he said.

Brooks also insisted Scott was shot in the back, despite every other witness saying he was shot in the chest.

“All I see is the officer shooting him three times. And it looks to me like he’s shooting him in the back,” he said, adding that Scott was already falling on his face when the other two officers fired.

“I couldn’t see any reason in the world why these shots were being fired,” he said.

Brooks also said he looked for a gun but never saw one.

“I don’t see a gun anywhere around him, but I see bullet holes in the back,” he said. He said if the officers would have followed Scott to his car and “had a conversation with him … none of this would have happened.”

"I never saw Erik Scott do anything out of the ordinary at all, except get shot," Brooks said after a question from an interested party, which includes Scott’s family and the family’s attorney.

Owens pointed out that Brooks said in his statement to police that he was watching the officer, not Scott.

However, Brooks said he wasn't happy with the way the police officer took his statement. Brooks gave his statement, but the recorder didn't work, so he had to give it again and he didn't give as thorough a statement the second time, Brooks said.

Owens said it sounded like Brooks had a bias against police. Brooks insisted he didn't, but he said he thinks officers do a bad job taking witness statements.

Owens pointed out that Brooks found the officer in a different position than every other witness. He also had other inconsistencies between his testimony today and his statement to police, Owens said.

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Costco employee Clayton Phillips testifies during a coroner's inquest for Erik Scott at the Regional Justice Center Monday, September 27, 2010.

Employee Clayton Phillips had a different take on what happened.

He had finished his shift at Costco and stayed to do some shopping with his wife when they were told to evacuate.

He saw Scott in the store, and then again outside. Phillips testified that an officer ordered Scott to “get down” and to “drop your weapon,” but when Scott reached for his gun, Phillips said he knew it wasn’t going to end well.

“Here we go, we’re going to have a shootout,” Phillips said he thought to himself.

An interested party asked if Phillips felt threatened by Metro since he was standing behind Scott and potentially in the officer’s line of fire.

“My concern was not with Metro, my concern was with Erik Scott,” he said, explaining that he couldn’t see the officer, but he saw Scott pull a gun. “I knew there was a threat and I felt Erik was the threat,” he added.

Ralph Smithwick, another Costco employee, also testified that Scott looked threatening. Officers had to shoot, Smithwick said.

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Ronald Montgomery, a law enforcement official with Homeland Security, demonstrates how Erik Scott brought up his holstered gun on a Metro Police officer as he testifies during a coroner's inquest for Erik Scott at the Regional Justice Center Monday, September 27, 2010.

Ronald Montgomery, a Costco customer, also said officers had no choice but to shoot.

Montgomery works in law enforcement for the Department of Homeland Security. He said he saw Scott holding the handle of a gun, raising it from his waist to shoulder level in front of him, pointed at the officer.

“He wasn’t complying with the commands,” Montgomery said.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Christopher Laurent asked Montgomery how he expected the officer to react.

“The only way they could, in my opinion,” Montgomery said. Since Scott failed to obey commands and brought his weapon up, they had to shot him, he said.

But another customer, David Seidlitz, disagreed.

“He just was walking toward the parking lot like he was leaving like everyone else,” he said.

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Bettie Lou Travis, who works at Costco giving food samples, testifies during a coroner's inquest for Erik Scott at the Regional Justice Center Monday, September 27, 2010.

Bettie Lou Travis, who works at Costco distributing food samples, said she was afraid as soon as she saw the gun.

“He was holding the gun in a shooting position,” she said, adding that she ducked away as soon as she saw it. “I didn’t wait to see him drop it or whatever he was going to do.”

Michael Dye, who was shopping with his wife, Christine, who also testified, said he didn’t understand why Scott didn’t comply with officer’s orders.

In response to a question from an interested party, Dye said, "it seemed surreal what was happening. I couldn't imagine someone wouldn't comply (with the officer's commands) ... especially finding out later that he was a concealed weapons (permit) holder."

William Carlston, who was shopping at the store with his wife, said Scott looked agitated and was glancing around before he was shot. Shopper Lee Mendell said she was surprised with what happened.

Also Monday, the district attorney’s office played recorded statements from witnesses David Warner and Sherri Dorsey.

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Clark County firefighter Chris Thorpe testifies during a coroner's inquest for Erik Scott at the Regional Justice Center Monday, September 27, 2010. Scott was shot and killed by Metro Police Officers at the Summerlin Costco store on July 10.

Firefighter Chris Thorpe explained emergency responders’ actions to try to save Scott.

Scott wasn’t breathing and had no heart rate when firefighters arrived, Thorpe said, but they loaded Scott onto a gurney and into an ambulance, then headed for a hospital.

Paramedics gave Scott oxygen, performed CPR and gave him medication to try to restart his heart, but they weren’t able to revive him, Thorpe said.

After the day’s testimony ended, Scott family attorney Ross Goodman told reporters no one has testified they felt threatened by Scott’s actions.

“Nobody said that he was acting in a threatening manner when he was leaving Costco; when he was outside Costco nobody testified that he was acting erratically,” Goodman said. “Instead, people testified that Erik was like a deer in the headlights, he was caught, he was frozen in time, he had three to four seconds to react and in that time he attempted to hand the holster over to the police officers when they decided to shoot.”

The inquest proceedings will resume at 10 a.m. Tuesday, the sixth day of the inquest at the Regional Justice Center in downtown Las Vegas.

CORRECTION: This story originally had the wrong name of a gun. Caltech was corrected to Kel Tec. Also, this story originally said Officer Mosher fired three times, but it was corrected to twice. | (September 28, 2010)

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  1. It was probably a "Kel Tec," not a "Caltech" ...

    what drugs were the 3 policemen taking? Were they given drug and alcohol tests after the shooting?

  2. At the end of this charade, when the obvious is finally stated, this fact will remain;

    If the Costco employee & the Metro officer had not made a mountain out of a molehill, this NEVER WOULD HAVE HAPPENED.

    Are you old enough to remember when people actually exercised common sense???

  3. Guess they have "Caltech" guns, suprised the college didn't sue them for using the name.

    Didn't look like you could pull the trigger in that holster.

  4. > If the Costco employee & the Metro officer had not made a mountain out of a molehill, this NEVER WOULD HAVE HAPPENED.

    amen --- how this thing escalated so far out of control when a tiny shred of professionalism on the part of Metro would have led to calmer outcome is beyond me. Add to it the Costco punk, Shai who seems to have exaggerated what was going on in the store and you end up with an unnecessarily snuffed out life.

    don't care about the drug use as that was a separate issue that Metro would of had no way of knowing ---- unless of course they had showed some restraint and walked Scott out to the parking lot to find out what was going on before killing him.

    more unbelievable is this shooting took place in the middle of 50 or 100 people and its shocking more people didn't get harm with metro's heroics.

    and why are there no drug test for OIS for the participants? Un-freaking believable. I'm sure the police union made sure that would never be part of the routine.

  5. > Here is a video of how fast someone can shoot from the holster

    lol -- really? that's a special holster made for rapid draws you've shown us. that's not what Eric Scott had his gun in.

    > There is a small device on a handgun called a trigger.

    that was down inside a leather case. I'd give you a $100 if you could of fired that gun as it sat on the ground in less than 5 seconds while it's still holstered in that holster.

    anyone take any finger prints from the holster to see if his four fingers were on the side as they would be if he was trying to hand it over? probably not.

    And I'm not sure anyone heard the reading on the questions not allowed yesterday --- and how our boy Shai apparently has several outstanding warrants in another state? bet that makes him nice and compliant for Metro's use.

    why didn't Metro walk Scott out to the parking lot? oh, probably the lack of professionalism, I'm thinking.

    Mr. Gillespie? No way. no how. I wouldn't care if Charlie Manson was running against you --- that's who would get my vote here in a few weeks time.

  6. > How are the police supposed to know this?

    exactly ---- and they got all spun up by some 23 yo kid who knows nothing about anything let alone how to access a threat. The police didn't do anything but react to horrid information --- all without taking the time to do their job. And given Metro's record with wild firing officers there's a lot of lucky people who were standing in that entry way.

    I simply don't understand why Metro didn't walk up behind Scott and walk him out to an empty place in the parking lot. They had the upper hand in manpower and resources but acted like the street punks they complain so bitterly about. Hell --- why no taser? that was an option. pepper spray was also an option. there were a lot of other ways to go but firing into a crowd of people on some kid's admittedly untrained observations.

    Metro needs to lose the shoot first approach to LE.

  7. > Pepper Spray vs a gun? Are you kidding me?

    nope --- there was no threat until Metro escalated it.

    > Tasers vs a gun? Hilarious.

    you can't reach for a gun if you're laying on concrete convulsing.

    > People who blame the Cops are ridiculous.

    and people who blindly rubber stamp Metro's crap are worse --- by a long shot.

    You should be happy you weren't at that Costco that day --- you could of ended up with a Metro round in you. And I'm here to tell you that many of the LEOs I know that have looked at this case, who are not Metro, think there was ZERO need for the drama. Hell, several of the Metro cops I know think that officer Mosher is a loose cannon who shouldn't be allowed to carry a firearm.

    But you probably know more than them given you watch cop shows on TV. Right?

    Let me also add I'll never step foot in a Costco given the wholly inadequate training they give their employees. A low price isn't worth risking my life for -- especially with Shai on the job. lmao.

  8. Artsy - Packing two guns! What paranoia and insanity drove Scott we will never really know.

    Try telling that to the police, they almost all carry a backup weapon for obvious reasons that I won't even waste my time explaining to you. You obviously know little about carrying firearms.
    RIP Erik Scott

  9. lvmp....
    it'll probably be deleted, but I agree with your post.

    If it's "okay" to whack every kook in this town because "they asked for it", we are in HUUUGE trouble around here...

  10. gmag and lvmp, keep removing culpability from Mr. Scott, after all he was just peacefully enjoying a slice when the goons from Metro collaborated and ambushed him.

    You two need a room.

    Erik had turned into a menace. Sad, very sad.

  11. What actually happened and what witnesses and participants think happened are, as usual, different things.

    What no one seems to be thinking about is a key point: if we have a right to carry concealed, do the police have the right to kill us on sight of the gun(s) we have the "right" to carry (and to die for carrying)?

    When you think about the practical problems in dealing with concealed weapons, there is no good way this turns out. All it takes is too much adrenaline flowing, which is pretty much all the time in such situations, and shots get fired. The more officers involved, the more the situation is seen by them as dangerous and the more the adrenaline flows and the quicker they react to anything, and fire -- and multiple shots from multiple officers -- result.

    We should all be impressed by the accuracy of Metro. I've known of fights elsewhere where 30 rounds got fired and no one was hit.

    We need to think about getting rid of all permits to carry concealed, or training Metro officers on some different techniques for handling such encounters.

  12. The question we are answering is "was the shooting that led to Mr Scott's dead justifiable"? The answer is YES! The rest are just speculations, shoulda, coulda, woulda won't bring the time back nor bring Mr Scott back to life.
    I believe the cops acted according to the circumstances. I agree Cosco employee took this out of proportion, call the cops because a shopper has a concealed handgun, I'm cancelling my membership, I don't shop where gun owners are not welcomed, I carry even when I go to church.

  13. Victor, It wasn't too many years ago that employees and customers were shot and killed by a gunman in a store just a few miles away (Albertsons on West Sahara). The employee's concern over a person in the store with a gun is understandable. I'm all for owning guns and CCW's, but I'm also for using a little common sense. I wouldn't think of Costco (especially in Summerlin) as a place I'd feel the need to carry two handguns for safety. The prescription shopping issue would lead me to believe he shouldn't have had the permit. Maybe they need to search prescription records before issuing the permits. His driving record (3 recent accidents, the most recent, clearly at fault) doesn't help his cause either.
    I also don't buy this "someone else could have been shot by Metro officers" complaint. "Could have" doesn't make it fact.