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erik scott coroner’s inquest:

Day 5 blog: Homicide detective returns to witness stand with more evidence

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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.

Updated Monday, Sept. 27, 2010 | 6:24 p.m.

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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5:53 p.m.

Peter Calos, the Metro homicide detective who oversaw the investigation into Scott’s death, brought additional evidence to the inquest Monday after initially testifying on Thursday.

A recording of police radio traffic was played for the court and Calos showed the jury the two guns that were with Scott.

In addition to the weapons, Scott carried seven gun registration cards with him in his wallet as well as his concealed carry permit. Calos also recovered a cell phone from the scene of the shooting, he said.

The detective said he researched Scott’s traffic accident history because his girlfriend claimed he had been in an accident the previous day.

Scott had been in three accidents this year, including the one the day before the shooting, which Calos said was his fault. Police records indicated no one was injured in any of them, he said.

Calos also researched Scott’s prescriptions and medical records since the autopsy showed he had prescription drugs in his system.

Scott had an extensive list of medications that had been prescribed to him, including some from a doctor who frequently gave prescriptions without showing detailed medical records, Calos said. Scott had an “inordinate amount” of pain medications, Calos said.

When asked if it is illegal to carry a concealed firearm without a permit or while under the influence, Calos said yes.

It was also not clear if Scott was actually 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.

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

Testimony for the day has concluded. The jury is dismissed, but the judge said he will stay until 6 p.m. to read questions into the record that were submitted but not asked.

5:13 p.m.

Metro homicide Detective Peter Calos, who testified Thursday, is back on the stand today.

He is showing the jury the two guns Erik Scott had with him on the day of the shooting. One was found on the ground after the shooting and the other was found in Scott’s pocket on the way to the hospital.

Calos was the lead detective to investigate the shooting.

4:26 p.m.

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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.

Clark County firefighter Chris Thorpe was one of the first people to reach Erik Scott after the shooting and accompanied him to the hospital for treatment.

He said officials were called to Costco, but had to wait a short distance away while Metro confirmed that the scene was safe.

They also had a slight delay getting to Scott because of the amount of traffic leaving the parking lot, but were at the store within a minute of getting the call, he said.

When he arrived, Thorpe found Scott laying face-down with handcuffs on. He asked for the handcuffs to be removed, then they rolled Scott onto a backboard, he said.

Scott wasn't breathing and had no heart rate, Thorpe said.

They loaded Scott onto a gurney and into an ambulance to go to the hospital. Thorpe rode with Scott in the ambulance, he said.

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.

In the ambulance, he found a small handgun in Scott’s right pocket and some ammunition clips in his left pocket, Thorpe said. Those items were immediately given to the police officer who accompanied them in the ambulance.

Another firefighter and a paramedic from the ambulance company also rode in the back of the ambulance to the hospital, Thorpe said.

"I think everything was done as best we could (to save his life)," Thorpe said.

4:10 p.m.

The inquest is back in session after a short break. Clark County firefighter Chris Thorpe is on the stand.

3:53 p.m.

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Costco shopper Lee Mendell testifies during a coroner's inquest for Erik Scott at the Regional Justice Center Monday, September 27, 2010. Mendell is demonstrating how Scott pointed a gun at an officer.

Lee Mendell, another Costco shopper, also saw the shooting and said Scott pointed a gun at a police officer.

She said an officer was shouting commands at Scott to get down. Scott reached down and then lifted a gun and pointed it at the officer, she said.

“I only know it’s a gun and I saw the gun, but what kind of gun I can’t answer that, I don’t know,” she said.

She heard the officer fire, but then looked up to see a helicopter overhead, she said. By the time she looked back, Scott was on the ground.

“The whole thing was a shock to me. I didn’t understand it,” she said.

The inquest is taking a 10 minute break.

3:38 p.m. (Updated at 3:43 p.m.)

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Costco shopper Christine Dye testifies during a coroner's inquest for Erik Scott at the Regional Justice Center Monday, September 27, 2010.

Christine Dye, the wife of the previous witness, said she isn't sure she saw Scott with a gun before he was shot.

She said she saw an officer pointing a gun at Scott, telling him to “get down on the ground, do it now.” She said Scott “looked a little bewildered.”

Scott then reached into his pocket or to his waist, where she saw something dark, perhaps a wallet, but she wasn't sure what it was, she said. But she did see him make a motion of pulling something out of his waist area, she said.

Her husband then told her to get down, which she did before she heard gunshots, she said. Her husband pushed her to the ground and put his body on top of her.

"Kind of before it happened, Mike knew there was going to be trouble," she said of her husband's actions before she heard gunshots.

After she got up she saw Scott’s legs on the ground, she said.

3:24 p.m.

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Costco shopper Michael Dye testifies during a coroner's inquest for Erik Scott at the Regional Justice Center Monday, September 27, 2010.

Michael Dye was shopping at Costco with his wife and saw the shooting outside the store.

As they were leaving, Dye said he heard shouting. When he turned to see what was happening, he saw a police officer with his gun pointed at Scott, who was 8 to 10 feet away from the officer, he said.

The officer yelled “Get down, get on the ground, do it now,” Dye said.

He then saw Scott reach for the left side of his waistband, where he noticed the handle of a gun, and Scott started to pull it out, Dye said.

He then pushed his wife to the ground and he went down to cover her, he said. There was more shouting and shots were fired, Dye said.

He said what he saw in Scott’s waistband was not a cell phone.

“I am 100 percent convinced that that was a gun,” he said.

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."

3:17 p.m.

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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 giving food samples, testified she saw Scott point a gun toward a police officer.

After being told to evacuate the store, she saw Scott talking to an officer, then he raised his shirt with his left hand and brought his right hand to the back of his right side, she said.

“I thought maybe he was going to pull a gun,” she said.

He just stood there, she said, and didn't comply with the officer's commands.

Then he kind of "fluttered his shirt," and Travis said she thought, "Oh my gosh, he's going to pull a gun." Then she ducked out of the way.

Scott brought his hand up, and “he was holding the gun in a shooting position,” she said.

Travis said she ducked and moved toward a column to get away and then heard a gun go off.

“I didn’t wait to see him drop it or whatever he was going to do,” she said.

She said at first she didn't know who fired their gun, but she later noticed Scott’s body on the ground when she walked by again.

2:55 p.m.

David Seidlitz, a Costco customer, testified that he heard officers tell Scott to get on the ground. Scott turned toward an officer before shots were fired, he said.

After the shooting, he heard a woman yelling something about the man being in the service, Seidlitz said.

He saw a gun on the ground and saw an officer turn Scott over so he was on his stomach, then handcuff him, Seidlitz said.

A paramedic later came and performed CPR on Scott, he said.

Scott was acting normally before he was stopped by a police officer, Seidlitz said.

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

2:36 p.m. (Updated at 2:51 p.m.)

The district attorney’s office played two recorded statements from witnesses.

In the first, customer David Warner said he heard the officer order Scott to get on the ground and then he heard six to eight shots fired rapidly.

Scott never raised his hands above his head, but Warner said he couldn't see below Scott’s shoulders because of someone standing in the way. Warner described the gunfire as "just like a string of firecrackers."

As his interview with the officer was concluding, Warner was asked if he had more to say. He said he did.

He said the Scott family's attorney was spreading "B.S."

"They shot him four times on the ground, that's all malarkey. I know that for a fact," he said, apparently referring to reports that had circulated that Scott had been shot in the back after he had already fallen to the ground.

Warner gave his statement Aug. 20 at the Metro homicide division. He is out of state caring for a family member, so he couldn't be at the inquest, Chief Deputy District Attorney Christopher Laurent said.

The second recording was from Sherri Dorsey, a Costco employee who is under a doctor’s care and also couldn't come to the inquest, Laurent said.

Dorsey said she was trying to usher customers away from the entryway of Costco when shots were fired. She was telling customers to go to their cars, she said.

She said she believed the white male customer had fired one shot at the officer before he was shot and killed.

Dorsey said the man had his gun pointed at the officer. When she heard shots, she turned and ran.

"At that point, I'm just hoping I don't get shot," she said.

She heard more shots as she was running away from the scene, she said. Dorsey said she saw Scott raise his shirt and then saw a police officer shoot him once.

She then started to run and heard more gunshots, she said. Her oral statement was given the day of the shooting at the Costco store.

2:03 p.m.

The inquest has resumed after a lunch break. Judge Tony Abbatangelo is reading questions submitted by interested parties that weren't asked of witnesses. The jury is expected to return shortly for witness testimony to resume.

1:07 p.m.

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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.

Witness Ronald Montgomery, who has worked in law enforcement for Homeland Security for 23 years, said he felt officers had no choice but to shoot Scott.

Montgomery was shopping at Costco when he and his wife were told to evacuate. He was near a police officer outside the store when the officer yelled “get on the ground,” he said.

He then heard the officer order Scott, who was about 20 feet away from Montgomery, to either drop the gun or drop the weapon, but he isn’t sure which word was used.

Montgomery 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.

Scott had a “full grip” on the gun, but didn't have his finger on the trigger and the gun was in a holster, he said.

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

Chief Deputy District Attorney Christopher Laurent asked what Montgomery expected the officer to do at that point.

“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.

Montgomery said he heard three shots as Scott raised the gun.

Scott then bent at the waist and slowly fell to the ground, he said. He didn’t hear other shots after Scott bent over, Montgomery said.

The inquest is taking an hour lunch break.

12:44 p.m.

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Costco employee Ralph Smithwick demonstrates how Erik Scott reacted after being shot as he testifies during a coroner's inquest for Erik Scott at the Regional Justice Center Monday, September 27, 2010. Chief Deputy District Attorney Christopher Laurent listens at left.

Costco employee Ralph Smithwick testified that he saw what appeared to be a gun under Erik Scott’s clothing and heard an officer twice say “get on the ground.”

Smithwick said Scott reached across his body with his left hand to lift the right side of his shirt after the officer’s orders. That’s when Smithwick said he saw the gun handle, but he didn’t see what his right hand was doing.

A police officer then fired once, and Scott looked like the wind was knocked out of him. He went up on his toes, his back was arched and his hands went up into the air, Smithwick said.

The other two officers then fired at Scott, which knocked him to the ground, Smithwick said.

He then heard Scott’s girlfriend yelling that he had been in the military and had a permit, Smithwick said. He said he also noticed what appeared to be a gun on the ground.

At first Smithwick said Scott had been hit with a Taser and it wasn't until he talked to a police officer later that he realized Scott was dead.

Smithwick, who said he was 8 to 10 feet away from Scott during the shooting, said he didn’t think Scott was holding a gun or a cell phone when he was shot.

He said he does think Scott had time to comprehend the instructions given to him before shots were fired.

He also said he didn’t think police had any choice but to shoot because Scott’s actions looked threatening.

12:08 p.m.

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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 public defender who represented murder suspects for 11 years, witnessed his first shooting at Costco.

He said the second and third officers didn't need to shoot Scott. It was “gratuitous violence,” he said.

Brooks had finished his shopping when he noticed three police officers as he left the store, he said. 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 so he could see what was happening.

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

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

“It is absolutely immediate,” he said.

Brooks said he heard part of the 911 tape of the shooting played on the news, and 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. And he said Scott was already falling on his face when the other two officers came up and fired.

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

Brooks also said he went around to look for a gun but never saw one.

"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.

But Assistant District Attorney Chris Owens earlier 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 they do a bad job taking witness statements.

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

The inquest is taking a 10-minute break.

11:20 a.m.

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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.

Clayton Phillips is a Costco employee but had finished his shift and stayed at the store to do some shopping with his wife when they were told to evacuate the store.

As they walked away from the checkout stands, he noticed a man get a shopping cart and go back into the store, which was odd since everyone else was leaving, he said.

While Phillips was leaving the store, he said he noticed a police officer with his gun drawn, so he turned to walk backward while moving away from the store's exit so he could watch what was happening.

He then saw the man who had grabbed the cart, who turned out to be Erik Scott, come out of the store.

He heard the officer yell commands to “get down” and to “drop your weapon,” he said. Phillips said he isn't sure which was yelled first, but he is sure both were yelled.

Scott reached behind him, pulled his shirt up and put his hand on a gun at his back, Phillips said.

As Scott brought the gun around his body toward the officer, he heard gunshots.

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

He then pushed his wife behind him because he wasn't sure what was going to happen, he said.

Phillips said he heard more shots and saw Scott fall on the ground.

An interested party asked if Phillips felt threatened by Metro since Phillips was standing behind Scott.

“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.

Phillips also said his wife said she didn't see the weapons or anything important that happened.

10:51 a.m.

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Costco shopper William Carlston 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. Carlston is describing the position of Scott's hands after he was shot and fell to the ground

The first witness of the day was William Carlston, who was shopping at Costco with his wife the day of the shooting.

He was told to evacuate and noticed two police officers while leaving the store.

Carlston said he later saw Scott facing the officer. Scott looked agitated and was looking back and forth, Carlston said.

He saw Scott’s arm move back and then forward toward the officer, who was about 10 feet away, but he couldn't see Scott’s hands, so he wasn't sure what he was doing, Carlston said.

He heard shouting and a loud command, but he couldn't tell what was said or who was talking, he said.

After Scott moved his arm forward, he saw an officer fire. Scott staggered and, "when he turned to his left, I saw in his right hand, a gun," Carlston said.

After the shots were fired, people started running away and Carlston was knocked down to his knee and couldn't see what happened next, he said.

When he got back up, he saw Scott on the ground, face-down, with his hands above his head, he said.

"A foot or two to his left side, a gun was laying on the ground," Carlston said.

His wife was with him, but she got down on the ground when she heard a command to do so and she didn't see anything, he said.

10:19 a.m.

On the stand is William Carlston, who was shopping with his wife near household goods/cleaning supplies at Costco when he was ordered to evacuate.

10:15 a.m.

The fifth day of testimony in the coroner’s inquest into the police shooting death of Erik Scott is to get under way shortly at the Regional Justice Center in downtown Las Vegas. The proceedings were to begin at 10 a.m., and the judge and jurors entered about 10:15 a.m.

The inquest, a fact-finding process used to determine the facts surrounding police officer-involved deaths, began Wednesday.

Police responded to the Summerlin Costco on July 10 when an employee called 911 to report a man acting erratically, possibly on drugs, damaging merchandise and carrying a pistol in his waistband.

Shortly after police arrived, Scott was shot to death outside the door by three officers.

Officer William Mosher, the first of three officers who fired shots at Scott and the first to pull his trigger, testified Thursday and Friday. The other two officers, Joshua Star and Thomas Mendiola, are expected on the stand this week.

CORRECTION: This story originally said Officer Mosher fired three times, but it was corrected to twice. | (September 28, 2010)

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  1. Of course Mr. Brooks would be critical of the police officers' actions. He represented murder suspects for 11 years, all of whom were innocent. I have a news flash for you - Erik B. Scott, had he not drawn his firearm, would have died during an ensuing scuffle with the police officers because of his toxic levels of narcotics.

  2. logic_should_rule said "Certainly the Scott family intends to sue. Most likely a jury will find enough doubt to award a settlement."

    I agree 100%. I think there should be a civil suit and I think that the Scott family should be found liable and forced to repay Clark County for the circus they demanded and for the costs and damages that Erik caused.

  3. This is sounding more like a justified shooting, but the one-sided nature of everything is apalling. You can see why cops can kill without fear of the coroner's inquest.

  4. Logic - see my responses to lvmp regarding tasers.

    Tasers are not 100% effective (even the manufacturer says so) and attempting to tase suspects with guns in their hands will end with you getting shot sooner or later.

    Erik Scott forfeited his right to non-lethal force the moment he disregarded his training and placed his hand on his weapon.

  5. Counselor Brooks is so typical of a public defender. He has spent the last 11 years defending the dregs of society, 99% of which belong in jail. He probably was snooping around to see if he could gain another client, ie person getting arrested. His testimony was useless.

    NOTE TO ALEX 2:
    Have you not read this article? Evidently not since you do not understand that the second Mr. Scott put his hand on his weapon - that was it. You also are suffereing a severe case of paranoia about the police. Have you sought professional help?

  6. bikermama, your comments are so typical of those hiding behind a veil of anonymity to post your spurious comments.

  7. bikermama

    Public defenders are assigned by the court for those who cannot afford counsel. Maybe my percentage figure was too high; 95% of the people they represent belong in jail, have been in jail, most are repeat offenders, and people you would not want as your neighbors. Who do you think public defenders, both state and federal, represent? Ma & Pa Kettle?? I know from first hand experience a Federal defender client list reads like a who's who of the federal prison system.

    Also - Mr. Scott did make a fatal mistake. You listen to police commands and you do NOT touch any weapon you are carrying.

    As far as the rest of making mistakes - sure we all make mistakes but I can safely say most of us don't make mistakes that require police pulling their weapons. If you do make THAT kind of mistake - you deserve what you get.

  8. What wendor and Det Munch said.

  9. hateliears says "DROP IT requires you REACH FOR YOUR GUN! HOW CAN YOU DROP IT WITHOUT FIRST GRABBING IT?"

    Sorry, but it is not logical at all, not to mention specifically AGAINST the training he received for his NV CCW, to think that "drop it" requires that you first pick up something that isn't already in your hand.

    I mean if I tell you "drop the pizza" are you going to get in your car, drive to the store, buy a pizza, drive back, and drop it in front of me? Or are you going to say "I don't have a pizza"?

    Erik Scott's training covered that in this situation he should keep his hands away from his weapon, lie on the ground if instructed (while keeping hands visible and out away from body), and inform police that you are a CCW holder and tell them the location(s) of your weapons WITHOUT touching them. He disregarded his training and dies for it.

    As for all of those who say that the police should have given him more time to comply, the answer is simple. Erik would have had all the time he needed as long as he kept his hands AWAY from his weapon. His time ran out the moment he reached for his weapon.

  10. hateliars, No. I most certainly would not ever assume that a police officer wanted me to disarm, no matter what orders he gave.

    I went though the same NV CCW training as Erik and understand that you are NEVER to place you hand on your weapon in an encounter with police. You keep your hands visible, held out from your body, and you wait for the police to disarm you. You do not disarm yourself.

    Erik wasn't shot for failing to follow orders. He was shot for grabbing his gun.

  11. hateliars, Let's try an experiment.

    With toy guns, you point one at me and I'll reach back and grab mine from my waist. Sometimes I'll take the entire holster out and extend it to you, sometimes I'll draw and fire at you. Lets' see if YOU can accurately determine which I am doing and respond appropriately in less time than it takes me to raise my arm and fire. (Since a gun can be fired from this holster, we'll also throw in a few where I pull out the entire holster and still fire at you)

    Remember you can only get ONE wrong...then you're dead.

    After we finish the game you come on back and see if you can still insist that the police officers should have been able to make that split second snap judgment. And keep in mind that by ignoring CCW training and grabbing his gun Erik was already proving to be irrational.