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July 31, 2014

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Metro begins releasing reports into all officer-involved shootings

Metro Police have begun releasing reports about nonfatal officer-involved shootings, a move guided by the department’s commitment to be more transparent.

Earlier this year, in the absence of the controversial coroner’s inquest, Metro started releasing reports about deaths resulting from officers’ use of deadly force. Those documents — a criminal investigation report and an Office of Internal Oversight review — coincide with decisions released by Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson regarding each incident.

Metro officials said reports about the nonfatal incidents would be released when they become public record — in other words, when they do not affect pending criminal cases.

Metro’s first nonfatal report, released Wednesday, dates to mid-March, when an officer was shot while entering a home where a domestic shooting had occurred earlier. Metro’s Use of Force Review Board noted several errors on behalf of officers and a commander during the incident.

Officers responded about 10 p.m. March 16 to 1213 Wyatt Ave. after an 8-year-old child arrived at University Medical Center with a gunshot wound. A shot fired during a domestic disturbance had gone through a wall, striking the child.

At the direction of Metro Sgt. Leo Aguilar, officers forced entry into the home, at which point the suspect, Sammie Clay, opened fire from deep within the house. Three officers — Jacob Legrow, Larry Miles and Brian Walter — returned fire.

In the process, police determined Officer Brian Jackson had been struck on the top of his head by a round fired by Clay. Jackson, who was transported to UMC by police vehicle, survived.

SWAT members eventually entered the home later and found Clay dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. None of the bullets fired by officers hit him, police determined.

Even so, Metro’s Use of Force Review Board found officer safety was compromised after officers “failed to take time and ask further questions,” which resulted in them entering a residence with an armed suspect.

Officers entered the home before receiving updates with “critical information” obtained from officers talking to victims at the hospital, according to the report.

The review board found errors on behalf of the following four department members:

• Aguilar misinterpreted data in this situation, leading to decision-making errors.

• Legrow, under the leadership of his field training officer, committed errors during attempted entry into the home. At the time, Legrow was in his fifth week of Metro’s field training and evaluation program.

• Miles was found to be partly responsible for the unsafe tactics used by Legrow, who was his trainee.

• Medina discharged three rounds into the northwest corner of the home without having an identifiable target, which is outside of Metro’s policy.

Aguilar has since completed 40 hours of critical incident review training, according to the reports. The officers involved attended reality-based training sessions, specifically about ambush situations, at the Advanced Officer Skills Training Center. Officers also completed training for high-risk entries.

Full reports about non-fatal officer-involved shootings are posted on Metro’s website.

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  1. I see absolutely no reason that an officer who "discharged three rounds...without having an identifiable target" should no longer be allowed to carry a weapon as a Metro officer. You might as well drive down the freeway with your eyes closed.

  2. Now this is a first! Publicly admitting errors committed by Metro Police Officers in a shooting situation.

    The Public has many questions, and some questions already have been answers based on the disclosure by Metro and supported by the District Attorney. Meaning, there are many other Metro involved shootings that could have been avoided, or handled differently.

    The report also tells the Public, there are severe questions about the decisions being made by senior position Metro officers, or decision makers in the field, during a time of crisis when lives are at risk. It appears some senior position officers are not prepared, not properly trained, and should not be in the field making decisions during times of crisis.

    It also shows Metro Police are over reacted to situations that normally could be handled by having more information before giving an order to invade someone's home with guns draw, and escalating a situation to where shots are being fired.

    Without the protection of the Police the Public would have to arm and protect themselves. Without a well trained Police Force, the Public could develop a fear of the Police. And that is not good for anyone.

  3. Sheriff Gillespie provides for "transparency" and "accountability" when street cops and supervisors can be hung out to dry. The Metro chain of command has been told about the issues with 'entry' into private property without a warrant or an emergency. If you speak up about this stuff from inside you get targeted and terminated!

    The people responsible for any training weaknesses, for any policy and procedures that are weak, and for the lack of corrective action over the years are the administrators. They are NOT cops any more...they just sit in judgement of the lower ranking folks. Sgt. McMahill has how many shifts of street police work that she can call experience to let her 'oversee' anything related to what real cops do?

    I'm going to try to find the YouTube video and get nauseated by forcing myself to watch it. We are lucky we don't have two (or more) dead cops!