Police: Man killed at Vegas hospital had guard's stun gun

Associated Press

An officer shot and killed a suicidal man in police custody in a Las Vegas emergency room Monday after the suspect took a stun gun from a jail guard's bag that was left in a room with him and pointed it at security guard and a nurse, officials said.

Investigators will look into whether the corrections officer violated policies and procedures by leaving the suspect alone in the room with the bag, police said.

The incident came amid questions about other police use of force incidents in Las Vegas, where the department adopted a range of reforms following U.S. Justice Department scrutiny over a record 25 police officer shootings in 2010.

The man killed Monday had been arrested on a felony warrant after he called police and was found unconscious. He was taken to University Medical Center because he was too intoxicated to be kept in jail, police Capt. Kelly McMahill said.

At the hospital, the man removed a stun gun from an equipment bag that a corrections officer brought with him for guard duty and left unattended in the room with the man. The bag also contained shackles and paperwork, McMahill said.

McMahill said security video in the room showed the suspect taking the weapon from the bag.

When the man pointed the stun gun at a hospital security officer who entered the room with a nurse, the guard left the room to get help and found a police officer, who went into the room and saw the man pointing the stun gun at the nurse, McMahill said.

The officer fired one shot as the suspect turned toward him, McMahill said.

The man was declared dead shortly afterward. Police did not identify him or the other people involved.

It was the 17th shooting by police and 10th death so far this year in Las Vegas.

The federal review conducted by the Justice Department's office of Community Oriented Policing Services led in May 2014 to recommendations for reform that the department adopted. Since then, the number of shootings decreased to 16 in 2015 and 10 last year.

In recent months, the department has faced criticism about use-of-force and tactics following the death of an unarmed man who was choked to death in May by a police officer after a foot chase out of a Las Vegas Strip casino. The officer in that case has been suspended without pay and faces a manslaughter charge.

Four weeks ago, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett accused police of using excessive force after he was held at gunpoint and handcuffed by officers searching for what they believed was an active shooter at a Las Vegas Strip casino. Bennett was released following the Aug. 27 incident without being charged with a crime.

In Monday's case, the man was arrested late Sunday on the warrant for an unspecified charge after he called 911, threatened suicide, said he had a gun and vowed to "blast it out with cops," McMahill said.

She said officers knew the suspect's background after dealing with him "on other suicide-type events, crisis intervention."

Police officers found him unconscious near a bus stop in a business area about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) from the Strip.

McMahill said she did not know whether he was under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both.

The officer who fired the shot was placed on paid leave pending reviews of the shooting by the police department and prosecutors.

The shooting happened in a "contained and locked-down" part of the emergency department and briefly interrupted care for other patients, hospital spokeswoman Danita Cohen said.

She declined to describe hospital policies for handling patients who are in police or jail custody, citing patient privacy laws and the police investigation into the shooting.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Copyright © 2017, The Virginia Gazette
50°