Published Wednesday, June 20, 2012 | 1:05 p.m.
Updated Wednesday, June 20, 2012 | 5:53 p.m.
The Clark County District Attorney’s Office has cleared Metro Police of wrongdoing in three April 2011 officer-involved shootings.
The announcement, made Wednesday morning, came after a review of the cases by the District Attorney’s Office.
The first case involved the April 4, 2011, shooting death of Michael Chevalier, who police say had sexually assaulted a woman in an East Charleston Boulevard apartment, then held her hostage and was using her as a human shield after police arrived.
According to the district attorney’s report, Chevalier was shot once in the head by Sgt. Michael Quick after the SWAT team entered the apartment in an attempt to end the six-plus-hour standoff.
During the standoff, Chevalier fired several shots at officers, while threatening to kill his hostage and himself, the report said.
The report said Quick was justified in shooting Chevalier because of the imminent danger he, his fellow officers and the hostage faced.
The second case was the April 11, 2011, shooting death of David Paul Gonzalez, who police say was an absconded parolee who fired a gun at police after they attempted to pull him over for a broken tail light.
After being engaged by police near Flamingo Avenue and Swenson Street, Gonzalez attempted to drive away but was stopped after police performed a maneuver that disabled the vehicle, the report said.
Gonzalez got out of his vehicle, pulled out his gun and began firing at two Metro Police officers, the report said.
Officer Patrick Burke fired five shots in return, striking Gonzalez as he attempted to flee on foot. Eleven people witnessed the shooting and were interviewed by the district attorney.
Gonzalez had been paroled five months before he was killed after spending time in prison for a 1997 murder, but he had failed to check-in for supervision shortly after his release.
The district attorney ruled the shooting was justified because Burke acted to protect himself and others in the immediate vicinity and because he was attempting to prevent the escape of a fleeing felon who may have posed a threat of serious bodily harm to others.
The case was the April 12, 2011, shooting death of Abdul Hamlan, who police say was suicidal and aimed a firearm at an officer who had responded to a call at Hamlan’s northwest valley home.
Upon arriving, police found lying on his side in the garage, visibly upset and crying, with his hands hidden behind his back, the report said.
After a brief conversation, during which Hamlan allegedly told police “Just go ahead and shoot me then,” Hamlen removed his hands from behind his back, revealing a handgun, the report said.
He then slowly pointed the gun at the officers and ignored repeated commands by police to drop the weapon, the report said.
Officer Greg Watkins fired a total of six shots, striking Hamlan, who was transported to Mountain View Hospital, where he later died.
The district attorney ruled Watkins’ actions justifiable because Hamlan purposefully pointed his gun at the officers, and there was a “reasonable apprehension of imminent bodily injury.”
Previously, officer-involved deaths were reviewed during a coroner’s inquest hearing which included public testimony in a courtroom. But the inquest process has been tied up with legal challenges for the past two years – the last case was heard in September 2010 – prompting District Attorney Steve Wolfson to begin having his office review the cases on its own.
“When law enforcement is involved in a deadly confrontation, the public deserves to find out what happened and why,” Wolfson said in a statement.