While there is no doubt that being a Las Vegas Metro Police officer is a dangerous endeavor, this is not a good start to a new year.
And while these three shootings, at first glance, look like they were justified, they are being investigated by the department. Until the investigations are complete, we don’t know that for certain.
Police shootings in Nevada bring to mind the recent shooting of a man after Nevada Highway Patrol, BLM officers, and Las Vegas police responded to calls regarding an armed man “in distress” on the Scenic Loop Road near Red Rock Canyon. Officers shot and wounded a man who was accused of ramming a fence and then a patrol car with a rented pickup truck. While witnesses described the action as gunfire to “stop the threat,” it is not known whether the man had any weapon.
In the meantime, we now understand that the man may have had “serious mental health issues,” according to his defense attorney, and has made suicidal comments in jail.
So when are police justified in shooting someone? And when can law enforcement officers be held accountable if there was no justification?
While most of our law enforcement officers work within the framework of the law, there are many instances where they do not. When the police shoot without valid reason, it is a form of police misconduct. Police misconduct in Nevada comes into play when law enforcement uses excessive force in the course of their responsibilities, including the unjustified use of a firearm.
An officer may use deadly force in Nevada only in certain circumstances. These include
If an officer harms or kills an individual and the shooting was not justified, the officer as well as the department can be held liable for their damages in either a civil lawsuit or a lawsuit under Section 1983 of the United States Code for violation of their civil rights under the Fourth Amendment.
While law enforcement has a difficult and dangerous job, officers are held to strict behavior in their use of firearms in pursuing an assailant. Individuals who believe that they are victims of excessive police force or their families can file a complaint with the associated police force’s Internal Affairs Board that must then conduct an investigation. If they find that the officer used excessive force, the board may then discipline the officer.
These investigations do nothing for the victim of the misconduct or their family if it resulted in a fatality, however. This leaves the victim or their family with their only option to file their own lawsuits to seek recourse for the harm done to them either through a wrongful death civil suit or a Section 1983 lawsuit.
Unfortunately, police misconduct too often goes unpunished. It is often kept under wraps by a “blue code of silence,” wherein officers are often reluctant to report or confirm misconduct by other officers. This can make police shootings particularly difficult to investigate and get legal remedies for their victims.
Police misconduct can be extremely complicated to pursue. For those who have been victims of police misconduct in Nevada or their families, it is critical to get professional legal help to understand their rights, options, and determine the right course of legal action.
If you believe that you or a loved one was the victim of police misconduct, our criminal defense attorneys at LV Criminal Defense may be able to help. Contact us at (702) 623-6362 or through our online contact form.