September 21, 2010

Analysis of a Death: The Erik Scott Shooting

First, My thanks to Bob Owens, proprietor of Confederate Yankee for his invitation to guest blog on the site. I look forward to contributing essays in the future and I have often commented in the past. By way of introduction, I'm a USAF veteran, having served in SAC as a security police officer during the Cold War. I'm also a veteran of nearly two decades of civilian police service, including stints as a patrol officer, trainer of officers, firearms instructor, shift supervisor, division commander, juvenile officer, detective and SWAT operator. I'm an NRA certified instructor and am also certified by the American Small Arms Academy, Chuck Taylor's school. These days, I teach secondary English and am a professional singer, working with a well known symphony orchestra and a variety of other musical endeavors. I'm looking forward to having the kinds of informed exchanges I've often enjoyed on the site. Mike McDaniel

The death of West Point graduate Erik Scott outside a Las Vegas Costco at the hands of Las Vegas Police officers, is at best, a tragedy. At worst, manslaughter.

First and foremost, understand that I am writing in response to articles I have read about the incident. Anyone how has achieved professional status in the criminal justice system will attest that it’s very difficult to make conclusive, correct judgments regarding cases about which they have no direct knowledge, as I, and virtually everyone writing about this case, do not. However, professional knowledge of policy and procedure might help others to better understand the issues surrounding such cases.

Costco’s Role/Liability: While Nevada law does allow “public buildings” to prohibit lawful concealed carry by posting signs, no such signs were posted at Costco. Any business can ask any customer to leave, but again, apparently no such request was made of Scott. Costco also has a duty to train and properly supervise their security employees, but because the police are refusing to release the 9-11 call, we have no idea what their security employee told the dispatcher or their tone in the telling. A competent security force would surely keep a potentially dangerous customer under surveillance until the police arrived, particularly if they felt they were as deadly dangerous as the police response would tend to indicate, yet at this point, it’s not known whether they watched Scott by actually having security people keep him in sight, by means of internal security cameras, or both. And competent security people would await the police (if for no other reason than because the police should have told them to do just that) and immediately direct the first arriving officers to the potentially dangerous person, but that apparently did not happen. It seems Scott and his girlfriend continued to shop until the general PA system announcement to evacuate, and having no reason to believe it related to them, tried to leave with everyone else. What is known also indicates that Scott and his girlfriend actually walked past several police officers who were presumably already inside the store before store security pointed him out as he exited the front doors.

Unanswered Questions/Issues:

(1) Was Scott actually, clearly asked to leave, and if so, did he refuse?

(2) What, exactly, did the security employee say to the 9-11 dispatcher, and how did he say it? Did the police respond appropriately, given what they knew at the time, or did they overreact?

(3) Did Costco security keep an eye on Scott after the initial contact, and if so, by whom and how? If such video shows a man and woman calmly shopping, that will be, to put it mildly, damaging for Costco and the police. On the other hand, if the video shows an angry, erratic, hostile man, another interpretation may be in order.

(4) Is there internal videotape of Scott and his girlfriend before, during and after the initial encounter, and external video of the shooting? According to Scott’s father, the police have made statements indicating that they have seized internal and external video, but that it won’t be usable--not a good sign. If it supported the officer’s stories, they would surely be glad to use it.

Scott’s Culpability: What, if anything, did Scott do wrong? Let’s assume that he was not, as at least some suggest, irrational, hostile and threatening, but merely a man with his girlfriend on a shopping trip. There is apparently considerable evidence to suggest that this was the case, not the least of which is the apparent reluctance of the police to produce video. Scott was legally carrying his weapon and had no reason to believe he, and it, were not welcome at Costco. While it is unfortunate that he inadvertently exposed it, the mere sight of a holstered firearm should not be unduly alarming, particularly in a state widely known to have concealed carry. Scott, once approached by the store employee, apparently acknowledged his concealed carry status, and not being asked to leave, was within his rights to remain. The police deal with reports of this kind all the time, everywhere in the nation, and certainly do not respond with the kind of numbers and types of officers present in this case. Usually, one or two officers merely observe the person from concealment for a few minutes, approach, ensure that they have a concealed carry permit, and everyone goes on their way. While the police must treat every call where the potential threat of violence is present as unique, not routine, a quick, peaceful resolution to this common call occurs almost all of the time.

We can “what if” ourselves silly. If Scott immediately left, he might still be alive today, but there is no way to know with certainty, particularly since the content of the 9-11 call remains unknown. The police response also makes the outcome less rather than more likely. The available evidence indicates that Scott and his girlfriend continued to shop until the PA announcement of evacuation, and upon leaving the store, were confronted by the officers who found him empty handed. It’s hard to imagine what, absent immediately leaving the store after being confronted by the employee who apparently did not ask him to leave, he might have done differently, and it seems clear that he did nothing illegal, at minimum. Of course, if he was truly hostile, erratic and angry, that may change things, but even then much would depend on exactly how he was acting, when and where, and toward whom.

The Police Role: It’s important to immediately clear up common misconceptions about police procedure and the use of deadly force. Officers must act on the knowledge they have at the time they are dispatched to a call (the role of dispatchers will be examined shortly), and/or must follow the orders of their superiors. Officers acting in good faith, as any reasonable officer would act in the same set of circumstances, if they are acting in accordance with the law and commonly accepted standards of training and police procedure, will usually be accorded a substantial degree of deference by prosecutors and judges. Officers must sometimes make decisions in fractions of a second that may have deadly consequences, and those split second decisions will be analyzed after the fact by those under no imminent threat and with months of time to render a verdict on an officer’s actions. That said, everyone involved, particularly officers, understand that this is their reality. They live it daily, and are responsible for making the right decisions. No one is forced to become a police officer. In a very real sense, they’re used to it and we pay them to be used to it and to keep their heads when all those around them are losing theirs. Quite simply, they are supposed to be able to properly handle deadly force encounters.

The use of deadly force by the police is widely misunderstood. Generally, officers may use deadly force to protect themselves or others where there is an imminent threat of seriously bodily harm or death and the person against whom force is to be used is in a position to carry out that threat. One common way to understand it is to employ three terms: Means, opportunity and jeopardy. Does the suspect have the means necessary to cause serious bodily harm or death, such as a gun or knife? Does he have the opportunity? If armed with a handgun, is it holstered under clothing, or in his hand, quickly rising onto target? If armed with a knife, is he fifty feet away, or five? And finally, is he placing the officer or another in jeopardy? Is he actually taking actions that would convince a reasonable police officer that the threat of serious bodily injury or death is imminent--it’s going to happen and happen in seconds--rather than potentially at some future time. Notice that the standard for decision making is a “reasonable police officer,” not a “reasonable citizen.” The courts have taken notice of the specialized training and experience of police officers and understand that they are better suited than most citizens to make such determinations, which is reasonable.

If means, opportunity and jeopardy are present, an officer is not limited to firing one round from a tiny caliber weapon, nor does he have any obligation to fire a “warning” shot or shots, or to shoot the suspect in the leg or hand, or to employ any other movie action hero cliche. In fact, virtually all police agencies specifically prohibit warning shots or shots intended to wound. This is true for two primary reasons: Officers are responsible for every shot they fire and officers always, always shoot to stop, not to wound or kill. They shoot to stop the suspect from completing whatever action gave the officer the legal justification to shoot in the first place. A warning shot or a shot in the hand or leg will likely leave the suspect able to severely injure or kill others. In fact, a warning shot or wounding shot might be construed in court to indicate that the officer believed that he really did not have legal grounds to use deadly force. The likely best stopping shot is to the brain stem or failing that, the brain, but as those are very small, difficult targets, officers are trained to aim for center mass, the vital organs in the chest. If the suspect dies as a result of being stopped, that matters not at all, legally speaking. And if an officer has the legal justification to shoot, he has the authority, and the responsibility to shoot as much as required to cause the action that gave him justification to shoot to stop. If that takes one round of 9mm ammunition, that’s good. If it takes ten rounds of .44 magnum ammunition, that too is allowed, indeed, it’s required.

Another additional misconception: Hollow point ammunition. The police carry hollow point ammunition because it tends to expand and expend all of its energy in the body rather than over penetrating and ricocheting in unpredictable ways. The military, under international treaties, cannot use hollow point ammunition, but in the military context, it’s better to wound rather than kill soldiers. A dead soldier takes one man out of the fight. A wounded soldier, three, as two of his comrades are required to carry him. Over penetration and ricochet are serious concerns for police officers, particularly in urban areas. While hollow point ammunition may indeed be more deadly when used against the innocent, it is far safer for the police and the innocent when used against the guilty. Fortunately, police shootings of the innocent are uncommon.

The problem is that many police officers have, at best, occasional and incomplete firearm training. Many law enforcement agencies require only annual qualification with courses of fire that are less than demanding. I know of a police officer who was made a sniper on a SWAT team who had never owned a firearm prior to becoming a police officer, in fact owned no firearms as a police officer, having only his department issued weapons, did not carry a handgun off duty, did not fire any weapon unless required to do so for training or qualification and had no precision rifle training whatever. The rationale for his appointment as a sniper remains a mystery. Police officers are not uniformly noted for excellent marksmanship in fire fights. In fact, there are many incidents on record in which officers emptied their weapons at distances at which they could reach out and touch the suspect, yet missed with every shot--as did the bad guys. I don’t suggest that this is true of all police officers, merely that wearing the uniform does not automatically confer magical shooting powers beyond those of civilians. Sometimes, it’s rather the opposite. What is often forgotten is that knowing when to shoot is, in many ways, far more important than knowing how to shoot, and training in this vital skill is also an iffy matter for many police officers. But one additional fact remains: At the moment the suspect has stopped offensive action, shooting absolutely must stop. Shots fired beyond that point are no longer authorized by law and may very well be criminal. Remember, however, that multiple shots may be fired in a deadly force encounter in mere seconds. Yet understand that the police know that these problems exist, should properly train for and are expected to be able to deal with them.

There are, based on what we know about this incident, several other pertinent issues. In any confrontation with a potentially armed suspect (other than those I’ve already outlined involving obviously peaceful citizens carrying concealed weapons), Officers should have their weapons in their hands, but those weapons should be in “low ready”: Trigger finger in register (off the trigger and in contact with the weapon’s frame), muzzle pointed roughly at the level of the suspect’s hips/lower abdomen. This is essential to prevent accidental discharges if the officer is startled or experiences an involuntary muscle contraction, both common results of extreme stress. It is also essential so the officer doesn’t have his arms and weapon in front of his face blocking his view of the suspect and their actions. If shooting is necessary, from ready an officer is in a position to bring his weapon on target with sufficient speed to end the threat, and is in the best position to understand if shooting is actually required and lawful.

It’s also vital that one--and only one--officer assumes the role of the sole giver of commands while at least one additional officer assumes the role of taking physical control of and securing the suspect, which, at some point requires them to holster and secure their weapons as they will be in actual contact with the suspect who might take control of their weapon. If more than one officer is yelling commands, the possibility of fatal mistakes is greatly increased. In fact, these procedures are taught in any competent basic academy tactics class, and are included in the rules and procedures of any competent law enforcement agency. Done properly, the procedure works; it’s a thing of beauty. It offers the greatest protection for everyone present, and the greatest chance that no one will be harmed. Of course, if the suspect is determined to hurt others, refuses to obey orders, or is determined to commit suicide by cop, that’s a different matter and no matter what highly trained and competent officers do, deadly force may be necessary and justified.

Post shooting, it’s essential that the suspect be restrained--handcuffed-- and then immediately disarmed if still in possession of a weapon in any way. If the suspect has dropped a weapon, it should be left in place unless safety concerns make that impossible. There are many stories in police legend of officers who saved cases and ensured that criminals were convicted by upending a bucket or similar item over a crucial piece of evidence. sitting on it, and refusing even the incorrect, unthinking orders of their superiors in order to protect that evidence. It’s also essential that the suspect be given the most immediate medical help that safety will allow. This is essential to establish that the officers were not acting out of anger or malice, but merely doing their lawful duties.

The duty of every officer to tell the truth and to maintain an unbreakable chain of all relevant evidence should go without saying. In this case, surely all witnesses should have been quickly identified and complete statements taken--there were certainly sufficient officers present for that task. All possible video records should have been taken and scrupulously protected. And of course, an attempt to discover if any civilian video was shot should have been made, and if so, the devices should have been taken into evidence with appropriate receipts given to the owners. The officers involved in the shooting should have been immediately relieved of the weapons used in the shooting and other duty weapons issued to them. They should have been immediately separated and individually interviewed, on videotape. If they did not obtain an attorney before speaking with their own investigators, even if they were absolutely blameless, they are fools. In professional, honest law enforcement agencies, officers involved in shootings are criminal suspects unless the facts prove otherwise, and they must expect to be treated that way.

Unanswered Questions/Issues:

(1) Do the Las Vegas police have written policies/procedures pertaining to this and follow those procedures?

(2) Did the police direct the Costco Security employee to wait for the first responding officers so that Scott could be immediately located and identified? This would be absolutely vital for a potentially armed, dangerous suspect and should be revealed by phone or radio recordings.

(3) Did the police actually have legal cause to shoot or did they shoot without sufficient cause? Did they shoot accidently due to poor tactics or training? If there were at least three officers screaming conflicting commands at Scott, that may well be the case. Or was the shooting a tragic accident, the result of inadequate training, or at worst, negligent retention (keeping a potentially dangerous officer on the street)?

(4) After the first officer fired, who fired next and why? He must be able to articulate clear and convincing reasons for firing each and every round. Can he do this, or was he merely panic firing in response to an unexpected gunshot from whom, he knew not?

(5) At what point had the danger passed? As Scott fell, presumably face down to the ground, what clear, obvious and convincing acts on the part of Scott motivated multiple officers to keep firing into his back?

(6) Where was Scott’s weapon--and its holster--at each second of the encounter and its aftermath? Each millisecond must be convincingly accounted for.

(7) What do the videotapes, inside the store and out, show? Is Scott, at any point, out of control, hostile, raging, erratic? If so, to what degree, when and where? Or is Scott a man calmly shopping with his girlfriend? If he was out of control, the police would be expected to want to release the video.

(8) Was Scott screened for drugs? If there were drugs in his system, it would seem likely that the police would be making that information public.

(9) Were the officers immediately separated and kept separate before questioning? What do their statements say?

(10) Which officers fired which shots, when, why, and where did each round go? Perhaps not all of the rounds fired hit Scott. If not, what did they hit? These questions must be answered conclusively in any competent investigation.

(11) At least one ambulance had apparently been called at the same time as the police. How quickly was Scott afforded medical help?

(12) How was Scott’s girlfriend handled by the police? This might provide clues to their mindset.

Preliminary Observations: Again, remembering that those commenting on this case do not have all of the facts, some preliminary observations are not unreasonable. First and foremost, it’s vital to know exactly what was on the 9-11 tape, and the radio transmissions of the dispatcher(s) to all responding officers. Good dispatchers can save lives; bad dispatchers can cause them to be lost. Did the dispatchers involved accurately gather, process and relay the information they received? If not, they might be the first link in the police chain that led to Scott’s death.

It seems clear that the Costco security employee calling 9-11 did so with, at best, second or third hand information. Whether Costco security kept Scott under personal or video surveillance is unknown, but what is known may suggest that they did not, or did so only incompletely, and that they were not waiting for responding officers (the police should have directed the security employee to do this, which is again, something all officer should learn in their basic academy classes), identifying Scott only on the spur of the moment after he had already passed other officers, to whom he apparently posed no threat and to whom he apparently seemed unremarkable. Scott’s sudden appearance and identification appear to have surprised the officers involved in the shooting, putting them at a tactical disadvantage, a situation no officer relishes. They apparently found themselves in the open, with no cover, no direct control over the situation, civilians in the background (the potential line of police fire) and potentially in the way--very bad tactics that competent officers always try to avoid unless they are overtaken by circumstances. It also seems clear that the officers immediately drew their weapons and at least three began shouting conflicting commands, including “drop it,” when all available evidence indicates that Scott’s handgun was never in either of his hands. It would also seem that the officer’s demeanor greatly alarmed Scott’s girlfriend--with good cause--and she did all that she could to fend off what she feared would inevitably happen.

Once the first shot was fired, the other officers may have opened fire sympathetically rather than because of any observable reason for shooting, and may not, in fact, have known, at the time they began pulling the trigger, who fired the first round. Even if they were entirely justified in every shot fired, the four or more shots into the back of a man already dead or dying and face down on the ground, particularly if he had no weapon in his hands or within easy reach does not--at best--speak well of the officers, their training, or their agency, and it is surely a public relations disaster. In fact, in competent firearm training and tactics instruction, officers are taught to fire one or two rounds immediately, then to lower their weapon to ready and assess the necessity of firing again, a process that can be properly done in a second or less. In fact, they should also immediately glance to the right and left to eliminate tunnel vision, an unthinking focus on a tightly restricted field of vision that makes it impossible to see, hear or react to anything else, a common and dangerous human reaction to these situations (two of the officers who fired may have had only a year or less on the job), and what may have happened to each of the officers involved as it usually does in similar situations.

It is not unusual for the police to keep information out of the public eye for a variety of good and lawful reasons, at least until after the initial inquest or preliminary hearing. However, eventually, all of the evidence should be produced, and surely must be produced for the attorneys of the Scott family. If the police are blameless, they should be anxious to release the 9-11 call, the radio transmissions, and most importantly, all video evidence. When the time comes, if they are reluctant to make the evidence public, if evidence has been in any way mishandled, or worse, altered or destroyed, the public would be justified in drawing the most negative and damaging conclusions. After all, if the actions of the police were indeed justified and lawful, the video and audio evidence should exonerate them.

It is standard practice in many professional law enforcement agencies that another, independent agency, such as the state police, investigate officer shootings to remove any suggestion of corruption. Apparently this is not to be the case in Las Vegas. In fact, police procedure for any unattended death, and particularly those involving officer shootings, commonly require that the incident be handled as a homicide until it can be positively ruled out so as to properly deal with evidence and cover all bases. At this point, with admittedly limited information, any competent internal investigator should have serious concerns about the actions of the officers involved. Those concerns might well be eventually alleviated by the evidence, but absent convincing evidence that contradicts initial impressions, it would be hard to imagine how the police were justified in their actions in this case.

Posted by MikeM at September 21, 2010 12:55 AM

What a sickening situation. I very much appreciate this article and its attempt to clarify the issues. I'd been considering applying for a CCW here in PA, but I think maybe I'll pass.

Posted by: ern at September 21, 2010 10:07 AM

Excellent analysis of the incident.

I disagree in one tiny area. You say: "Officers must act on the knowledge they have at the time they are dispatched to a call (the role of dispatchers will be examined shortly)..." If this is indeed current training for most police officers, it should be revised. Yes, good dispatchers can save lives by doing a better job of analyzing the initial call, but the officers on the line should be trained to evaluate the scene for themselves when they get there, rather than assume much of anything when they arrive. The initial call will almost always come from an individual who is NOT trained in observation, and who is in fact highly emotional and ramped up on adrenaline.

Years ago in my hometown, a foreign exchange student was shot and killed by a homeowner. The student and his friend were looking for a Halloween party, and initially knocked on the wrong door (they had a couple of numbers wrong on the address). The wife answered the door, saw two teenagers in costume, and panicked for some unknown reason (she herself could not say why, at trial) and screamed for her husband to "get your gun!" as she closed the door. As you would expect, the husband grabbed for his gun, went to the carport door of his house, opened it, saw the kids at the end of the carport, and opened fire. The kids were doing NOTHING threatening at the time, but the husband's perception of their actions was entirely keyed to his wife's initial overreaction at the front door. It was inevitable he would shoot the moment he decided to open the carport door, because there was literally nothing the kids could have done in a few split seconds that would have seemed non-threatening to the man who heard his wife yell "get your gun!" 5 seconds before.

Here, the responding officers should have been trained to understand that the initial caller may have overreacted, that they needed to reevaluate the situation with their own eyes.

I strongly support officer safety. But the "protect and serve" motto refers to their obligation to support the citizens of the community, not themselves.

Posted by: PatHMV at September 21, 2010 10:20 AM

4 rounds into his back could not have been because the officers reacted to the first officers shot. Those other officers would have had to track Scott to the ground before firing ... they were not reacting they were aiming and shooting to kill a man in the back ...
the 911 tapes and the COSTCO video will bring out the truth and every officer of official who lied (if they did) should be criminally prosecuted ...

Posted by: Jeff at September 21, 2010 10:24 AM

I would add a subsection to question #7:

Were there any police videocameras (cruiser or shoulder mounted) trained on the scene? What do they show? Were the officer's radio's recording any audio? If so, where is it? If neither audio nor video is available, why not? was the equipment available, and officers trained in its' use?

Posted by: SDN at September 21, 2010 10:32 AM

The 4 rounds in the back are what bother me the most here. In most states, that's a form of murder. If the police showed up to your house on an armed robbery call, and the perp had 4 rounds in the back, you'd be a homicide suspect. It wouldn't matter if you hit him a .22 practice pistol and he came in with a sawed off shotgun or a AR-15.

Posted by: Mike T at September 21, 2010 10:37 AM
All possible video records should have been taken and scrupulously protected. And of course, an attempt to discover if any civilian video was shot should have been made, and if so, the devices should have been taken into evidence with appropriate receipts given to the owners. The officers involved in the shooting should have been immediately relieved of the weapons used in the shooting and other duty weapons issued to them. They should have been immediately separated and individually interviewed, on videotape.

Your analysis was great, but this part sticks out like a sore thumb. Costco should have *not* given the police the video without a subpoena. Likewise, anybody recording an incident like this on a cell phone should *never* *never* *never* give it to the police. Offer to make a *copy* after they subpoena it. Post to youtube first. I've read about a lot of cases, and in every single one they have destroyed the video or pictures. Every single time.

You're assuming that the police agency will try to mount an investigation rather than a coverup. I am familiar with no cases where this has happened, but I am familiar with an untold number of coverups. (as an aside, feel free to provide me with counter-examples) This is obviously yet another case of a coverup.

It's silly to think that the LVPD is going to actually investigate a killing by the LVPD, particularly when one of the officers killed someone a couple of years ago (a fact which would complete your analysis).

To continue:

Post shooting, it’s essential that the suspect be restrained--handcuffed-- and then immediately disarmed if still in possession of a weapon in any way.

Actually, no, it's not essential in a case like this. It's utterly despicable. They shot him 7 times, including 4 times in the back. There's no reason to handcuff him. I've noticed this depraved act in other officer shooting stories, such as Oscar Grant and Kathryn Johnston, both of whom were obviously fatally wounded and should have at least had the courtesy of their killers to be afforded a comfortable death. Instead, it seems to be the ultimate way to show your domination of the victim.

It’s also essential that the suspect be given the most immediate medical help that safety will allow. This is essential to establish that the officers were not acting out of anger or malice, but merely doing their lawful duties.

Witnesses to the Erik Scott killing have said that the officers provided no medical help, but handcuffed him and let him lay there. One witness described them loading him onto the stretcher as throwing a sack of potatoes:

It's nice to assume the best in people, but bottom line is that you're not dealing with polite people. The good officers that we have are afraid to speak out, so they all end up being part of the herd. It doesn't work out well in a case like this.

Posted by: Michael Chaney at September 21, 2010 10:38 AM

You say

"It’s also vital that one--and only one--officer assumes the role of the sole giver of commands... In fact, these procedures are taught in any competent basic academy tactics class, and are included in the rules and procedures of any competent law enforcement agency."

Which suggests that the accounts of multiple officers shouting multiple conflicting commands is a result of them not behaving as they were trained. I think that is a serious misunderstanding of why they were yelling. They weren't yelling commands at Scott, Scott did not get shot because he disobeyed what the officers were yelling, and they were doing exactly as trained. You see, almost all law enforcement officers in this country are trained that if they are going to shoot someone once they make that decision they must begin yelling something urgent and loud like "Freeze!" or "Drop the weapon!" or "Stop resisting!" while they draw and as they shoot. That way, if there are any witnesses and the officer must defend the decision to shoot in a court or inquiry later the witnesses called will remember the officer urgently shouting at the victim to "drop the weapon" (or whatever) and perhaps it will color their recollection of the event in the officer's favor or at least it will corroborate the officer's claim that they thought the cellphone (or ID, or shiny watch, or whatever) was a dangerous weapon. That is why they were all yelling at him; they were all shooting at him and if they are shooting they must also be yelling.

The officers were not yelling "commands" that Scott ignored or got confused by which resulted in them deciding to shoot. They were really yelling to the other witnesses things they wanted them to recall hearing when they later testified about the shooting. The yelling therefore indicates that the police (or one of them) had already made the decision to shoot and they had begun shouting their 'magical talisman' CYA phrase that wards off lawsuits and firings and prison time exactly as they were trained to do.

Now, I say "trained" but I doubt you'll ever find that bit of training on any official lesson plans in the Las Vegas PD. It is not the sort of thing that is done in official settings, but rather one-on-one training that is done privately as wise words handed down from veteran officers to the newbies. The fact that this training is not standardized is apparant from the fact that there was so much variation in what specific CYA phrase each individual officer yelled after they made the decision to shoot. If you do not believe this interpretation of events then ask some law enforcement officer friend or relative privately about it.

Posted by: ctaylor at September 21, 2010 11:04 AM

If the employee told Scott that Costco does not allow weapons on their premises, that is a TACIT request to remove it from the store. Part of responsible carry is to immediately remove the weapon from the premises should you be informed it is not welcome by anyone representing the store. They don't have to ask you to leave - and frankly, most store employees aren't going to get into an escalated debate with someone carrying a firearm. It was his responsibility to immediately leave, not argue that he has a carry permit. And not to keep milling about the store with it.

That said, I believe that is completely separate from the shooting, which at this point sounds wholly unjustified. Even had the store personnel simply noticed the gun and called 911 without confronting Scott about the policy, this tragedy would likely have happened the same way. And frankly, since he was exiting the store, what precisely was the reason the police needed to confront him guns drawn? The parking lot is very likely a legal non-prohibitable area for concealed carry. As long as the gun wasn't drawn, there seems to be little reason to draw down on him especially with so many people around and his girlfriend presumably right next to him.

This was a shooting that was preventable - by following common sense carry behavior, and by better self control by police officers.

Posted by: MEC2 at September 21, 2010 11:15 AM

it is my understanding, and I assume I will be corrected if wrong, that one of the officers invovled had already been invovled in a fatal shooting in the past and was cleared of wrongdoing. And that LVPD has had 200+ inquires into officer involved shootings over several decades, with only one officer being found to have acted improperly.

Does anyone believe that LVPD won't rule this as a justified shooting?

Posted by: JamesT at September 21, 2010 11:18 AM

Actually TOO MUCH INFORMATION. If the incident is as it is reported, the police and COSTO are responsible for this innocent man's "manslaughter".

What now? A cover-up by the police and COSTCO "seems" to be going on as they refuse to release the Audio 911 recordings or the Security Camera Video.

The cops should be immediately removed from active duty, their firearms taken away. This is going to end up in a civilian court with a hefty settlement by both the Las Vegas Police Department and COSTCO.

It's a travesty and shame that the Las Vegas Police are so poorly trained.

Posted by: jgreene at September 21, 2010 11:19 AM

"I'm also a veteran of nearly two decades of civilian police service, ... The death of West Point graduate Erik Scott [...] At worst, manslaughter."

Of course a cop defends his fellow cops. You don't even need to read the rest of the article (no, I didn't); that quoted bit right at the start tells you everything you need to know about this guy

It was blatant murder and anybody with sense and who isn't compelled to lie out their ass to defend their fellow thugs can see it.

Posted by: Rollory at September 21, 2010 11:47 AM

In my humble opinion,this was not manslaughter, but
outright murder with official sanction. The officers
involved should be charged with murder because of their actions that resulted in this mans death and
possible cover up. I am surprised a throw down piece was not discovered. Every officer in this dept. should be relieved of his duty firearm until
such time as a review of their training has been performed,along with all being relieved of duty
till an outside agency(preferably from outside the
state)completes an investigation. We are now living in a police state where even a legal CWP
puts a person in jeopardy of being shot by the
protect and serve mafia.Think twice before you
visit Las Vegas.

Posted by: warlord at September 21, 2010 11:55 AM

Let me say up front that I am completely ignorant of the training received in ccw classes. However I think the safest procedure, if you're carrying and find yourself at police gunpoint, is to reach for the sky and stay that way. Lie down if they tell you, but NEVER reach for the gun. Let them disarm you.

Posted by: irright at September 21, 2010 11:56 AM

My preferred CCW carry is a Glock 26 in front pants pocket. Not the fastest draw, but I am big enough and the DeSantis Nemesis is good enough that it's not immediately evident that I am armed. No criticism of Mr Scott, IWB carry is entirely valid but having carried that way in the past I am constantly worried about printing my firearm or exposing it.

Secondly, if asked to leave because I have a CCW permit and am exercising my rights legally in an establishment without proper signage, I am definitely going to leave. This is primarily because I am not dropping a dime at a store that employs pinheads like the guy at Costco that got hot and bothered about a legal carry. That idiot has just cost his company thousands of my dollars.

Thirdly, if I see a police officer with a gun pointed at me, my plan is to interlace my fingers behind my head and go to my knees as fast as possible. They are looking for submission, I want to show that to them as soon as possible. The police are probably more scared walking up to the store than I am, they're thinking "Am I going to end up like that guy at the Oshman's in Irving? Am I going to end up like the guys in Oakland or Pittsburg?" I would feel much better if the author of this article were the officer sent to investigate, but rather than giving the police the opportunity to forget their training I am going to remind them visually that I am complying.

Fourthly, I am not going to put a hand anywhere near my weapon, or even toward my weapon. I'd much rather end up facedown in the parking lot with a knee in my back and gravel in my face than shot multiple times. A lawyer can figure out the relative liabilities of the police department and Costco at a future date, assuming I make it to the future date.

All of the above is because I have had the opportunity now to consider what I would do based on the tragic circumstances encountered by Mr. Scott. I can't control the police, but I can control myself. There was no one thing that Mr Scott did wrong, and there are a lot of things the LVPD officers did very wrong, like all tragedies it is the summation of decisions that in retrospect were in error, but prospectively were entirely reasonable.

It was entirely reasonable for Mr Scott to assume he was able to exercise his legal rights. It was entirely reasonable to assume that with the departure of the security guard, Costco was satisfied with his response. It was entirely reasonable to assume the store evacuation was unrelated to him. It was mostly reasonable to attempt to show the officers where his firearm was located, that it was holstered and was not a threat to them.

Much sympathy for the Scott family, and I hope that justice is done.

Posted by: Darren at September 21, 2010 12:01 PM

I agree with Rollory that I detected the "Brotherhood of Cops" attitude immediately and read the article with disdain. One shot in the arm pit and four in the back! If this poor smuck had been black this would be on national TV every night until these gunslingers were in jail. Also, mentioned above about the four shots in the back are allowed only if you are a cop is true. Do you remember the fast food clerk who had been robbed by ARMED robbers who shot one of them and then shot him twice more after he was down? He was charged with a felony. BTW the perps were black and the clerk was white so maybe that explains the public sympathy for the dead perp. My motto is when it comes to cops keep your hands in sight above your waist and say absolutely nothing to them. Let them do the talking and answer them in the shortest way possible. If you are carrying let them take the gun out of its holster. Do not reach for your weapon for ANY reason or command. Imagine the video tape, WITH NO SOUND, of you reaching for your gun after having been commanded to remove it. Their mistake is your death! They will not be prosecuted for it. I don't envy a cop's job but they chose it just like Obama did so STFU and do your job correctly or resign!

Posted by: inspectorudy at September 21, 2010 12:12 PM

I'm with irright. The first - and only - reaction of someone carrying a weapon HAS to be to stop, raise his hands and do absolutely nothing that would make police officers fearful.

And no, I'm not blaming the victim, just pointing out that he could have done something to increase the odds of surviving the incident... just as a young woman can improve her odds of getting home safely if she doesn't walk through dark alleys.

Posted by: steve at September 21, 2010 12:18 PM

There were certainly parties acting improperly while carrying weapons, and it wasn't Erik Scott.

If the "officers" involved in this fiasco had been private citizens, they would all be accessories to murder. As it is, none of them will be charged, and they'll all retire at 50 on a gold-plated pension paid for by me.

You can discuss the particulars of this case all you want, but does it matter? Do you honestly believe the facts, or the law, will make a difference?

I'm sad to say it, but "Serve and Protect" is a myth. It's just a job, with no oversight and extraordinary power. At best, it's a job done competently and predictably - and you won't get any "most of them are great cops" disclaimer from me. At worst, somebody decides to go in shooting, and there's nothing we can do. Our only hope is to pray they don't notice us.

Posted by: Bubba Cephus at September 21, 2010 12:43 PM

I want to say that I am definitely not blaming Scott here. Nor do I wish to blame the cops yet, although it certainly doesn't look good. I hope good video of the incident turns up so more can be known.

Also, above, I meant to capitalize "THEM" in "Let them disarm you."

Posted by: irright at September 21, 2010 12:50 PM

In no way does it justify the actions of the police officers, or any hysterics by whomever from Costco called in Mr. Scott's presence in the store, but either Mr. Scott or his companion had to be Costco members in order to shop there. And Costco states in its membership agreement that private firearms are not allowed in their stores. Therefore, he WAS wrong about being able to carry there, regardless of his carry permit, and had acknowledged it by signing the membership agreement. Read what you sign.

Posted by: Tim at September 21, 2010 12:54 PM

Given the police response in this case, it seems pretty clear they were told something in the vein of "drug crazed lunatic running around shooting at people". I'm a little more critical of the officers' actions than you are, but I suspect most of the blame here lands on Costco for wildly exaggerating. It'll be interesting to hear the 911 tape. If the civil jury hands ownership of the company over to Scott's family, I may even shop there again.

Posted by: J at September 21, 2010 01:09 PM

Pat, You got the story wrong. The guy had been harrassed by people knocking on his door and running. On that night when he opened the door the Japanese student advanced on him and was shot. He was keyed up by the wife's panic and reacted to a preceived danger rather than the actual danger.

Posted by: Lorenzo Poe at September 21, 2010 01:12 PM


It also adds nothing to the conversation to point out how he could have prevented this. The man did not behave unreasonably or illegally. Focusing on what he could have done to prevent something he could not foresee only serves to implicitly turn some of the blame away from Costco and the police.

I know you said that's not your intention here, but that is what comments like yours (and a few other people's comments) do.

The fact is that the police shot and killed him while they had him under control and he was posing no threat to them. That is the only real story here.

Posted by: Mike T at September 21, 2010 01:19 PM

"Of course a cop defends his fellow cops. You don't even need to read the rest of the article (no, I didn't); that quoted bit right at the start tells you everything you need to know about this guy..."

Well Rollory, if you HAD read the essay before posting you could have avoided proclaiming your ingnorance to the blogosphere. Anyone who reads this and comes away thinking it's a defense of the LVPD's conduct here could only be a product of our public school system.

Posted by: James Felix at September 21, 2010 01:36 PM

Where is the FBI. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. All video, and all backups being "unrecoverable" is an extraordinary claim, absent an explanation of why, to me is beyond the realm of possibility. Absent an independant (federal clearing) of wrong doing how can I conclude this isnt corruption. How can I conclude that manslaughter hasnt been covered up by willful destruction of evidence. A crime has been committed here.

The victim, and the family are guaranteed due process federally, and the denying them of that is a federal issue. THE FBI NEEDS TO GET INVOLVED.

Posted by: Anonymous at September 21, 2010 01:56 PM

I don't get how Costco's videos aren't available. For loss prevention purposes they put an entire array of cameras around the doors so that they can film every customer leaving and having their receipt checked and the camera coverage extends the the outside as well. The recording camera at my Costco was some of the latest and greatest in digital recording gear, high quality video off of every camera in the store was kept and it was easy to keep the video on the same time.

Costco and the cops saying there's no video is just highly unbelievable.

Also, at my Costco they shipped in California Type A assholes to be managers and supervisors. Those guys were some scream first, scream second and then show you the days plan kinds of guys. If one of them was on the phone with 911 he could have been screaming that it was a war zone and freaked the dispatcher and cops out to start this whole show.

Posted by: Allen at September 21, 2010 02:10 PM

Sickening, trigger happy cops kill again, and are now busy trying to cover it up as best they can.

Posted by: anon at September 21, 2010 02:20 PM

"While it is unfortunate that he inadvertently exposed it, the mere sight of a holstered firearm should not be unduly alarming, particularly in a state widely known to have concealed carry."

You may also want to note that Nevada is rated as a "gold star" open carry state by Open carry is 100% legal there, and in some places not unusual at all.

Posted by: Spade at September 21, 2010 02:25 PM

At present, all the apparent facts seem to point to this being a homicide committed by the LVPD on an innocent civilian.

Costco may well be to blame for inflating the situation with the 911 call. Either way, this civilian, Erik was shot 4 times in the back for the offense of carrying his legal firearm into this store.

Is anyone else going to join me in a call for a bouycott of Costco until they release all of the evidence into the public domain.

If this turns out to be murder by Cop and Costco are implicated, then i hope the LVPD get's cleaned out - officers jailed, new management team put in, and Costco goes broke from a nationwide bouycott.

Posted by: dee at September 21, 2010 02:25 PM

Las Vegas is going bankrupt on the civil settlement - taking 3-1 odds...

Posted by: Bill Johnson at September 21, 2010 02:48 PM

Simple solution here
everyone write or call or email Vegas and tell then you are boycotting till the cops are fired and jailed

Posted by: Them at September 21, 2010 02:49 PM

"the police have made statements indicating that they have seized internal and external video, but that it won’t be usable"

I'm not buying this for a second. There have been too many questionably incidents where LEO's have simply "lost" the video.

"At least one ambulance had apparently been called at the same time as the police. How quickly was Scott afforded medical help?"

SOP for many departments (written or otherwise), particularly urban ones, is that suspects do not receive any sort of aid from the officers. Since paramedics are sometimes restricted from the scene or choose not to enter for safety concerns, this means quite a few people get to bleed out while handcuffed. Nobody complains until the "wrong" person gets shot.

In the past, I've generally been someone who'd be either defending officers' actions, or at least explaining them to those who do not understand. In this instance, it appears that the officers were pretty much set up for failure by whatever information they received before arriving, and that this was then compounded by poor verbal commands.

Scott's supposed reaction did not help either, but if the officers were in fact ordering him to "drop the gun", "get on the ground", and "put his hands over his head", he likely would have been shot regardless of what he did.

The moral of this story for LEO's is to remember that you frequently do not know what is going on. This is why cops have a much higher chance of shooting the wrong person entirely when they respond to a call than do civilian CCW'ers who become involved.

The moral of this story for those carrying CCW's is not to follow police directions exactly - it does not appear at this point that this was possible - it is to LEAVE immediately if someone makes that you are carrying. Dealing with a panicked citizen is not worth the trouble, or your life.

Posted by: wtfo at September 21, 2010 02:51 PM

What I want to know is under what legal authority does the LVPD have the right to confiscate all video and then refuse to release them or the 911 dispatch call for review?

Where is Internal Affairs on this? Where is the FBI. Are there NO federal or state agencies that have jurisdiction or oversight to FORCE the LVPD to release this information?

What recourse do honest, law abiding citizens have in a situation like this?

Posted by: Joshua at September 21, 2010 03:06 PM

As a minority male with a CCW, I'm pretty much convinced that if I ever need to draw my weapon in defense of my loved ones it will almost certainly be fatal, whether from the bad guys or the cops.

Posted by: Ray at September 21, 2010 03:13 PM

Joshua - they have no authority to steal video or recording equipment. That's why you don't give it to them in the first place. If a cop asks you (or demands you) to give them your camera, politely but firmly deny and explain that they can subpoena it if they have need for it, and offer your information for them to contact you later.

In this particular case, Costco is at best complicit in this by giving them all the copies and going along with the obvious lie about none of the video being retrievable. It probably *isn't* retrievable now.

Posted by: Michael Chaney at September 21, 2010 03:15 PM

Read the fine print. 200 officer shootings: one disciplined officer. By definition, because they ARE police, they are innocent of anything but following training policy and procedure.

Posted by: Robert at September 21, 2010 03:21 PM

The sort of fear and hysteria evidenced by the Costco folks seems to be a direct out-growth of the anti-gun movement. The mere SIGHT of a holstered firearm was enough to cause Costco to summon many armed officers who were ready to kill on sight.

Too many people reading news stories about how 'the gun went off' all on its own, perhaps...


Posted by: Orion at September 21, 2010 03:40 PM

May the officers get what is coming to them, which should be a murder one conviction. There is no plausible way you can shoot someone in the back who is facing you and have a situation where it is possible that the additional discharges are justified.

Posted by: JohnMc at September 21, 2010 03:53 PM

"Joshua - they have no authority to steal video or recording equipment. That's why you don't give it to them in the first place. If a cop asks you (or demands you) to give them your camera, politely but firmly deny and explain that they can subpoena it if they have need for it, and offer your information for them to contact you later.

"In this particular case, Costco is at best complicit in this by giving them all the copies and going along with the obvious lie about none of the video being retrievable. It probably *isn't* retrievable now."

Posted by: Michael Chaney at September 21, 2010 03:15 PM

Can we get some clairity on this? I'm pretty sure that the police are legally allowed to confiscate those cellphone and video tapes as evidence.

I'm pretty sure they don't need a subpoena.

Can anyone else with some knowledge about this chime in?

Posted by: ed at September 21, 2010 05:14 PM
Can we get some clairity on this? I'm pretty sure that the police are legally allowed to confiscate those cellphone and video tapes as evidence.

You might want to read this. In general, the answer is "no, they cannot without a court order." The main exception cited there is if the camera is actually used in the commission of the crime.

That makes especially good sense when you consider that with surveillance footage being stored in secure areas of stores, it would present a tremendous loophole to search warrants if the cops could barge in and seize it on their own authority outside of truly exigent circumstances.

Posted by: Mike T at September 21, 2010 05:21 PM

What an unbelieveable report! It is unfathomable.

Please, everyone reading this who wants their CCW, DO IT!

The reason this happened is due the ridiculous, reactionary environment we have in America toward guns. We must do it, or those on the left who planted this evil seed will win.

There must be some recourse through our Courts, and I pray that Mr. Scott, the victim's father, DOES take this right to the Supreme Court if necessary. For the sake of his son, who deserves MUCH MORE than this for his life.

Yes, everyone in Clark Co. should be outraged, and protesting what happened. Their very lives are in danger from an out-of-control police department, that is NO doubt corrupt. Please people of Clark Co. do something about this; for no one will want to return to LV again.

The Country is depending on you to do your duty.

Posted by: Freedom's Daughter at September 21, 2010 05:22 PM

"...but "Serve and Protect" is a myth". You got that's more like "Harass and Abuse"

Posted by: mack at September 21, 2010 06:26 PM

Wow. Too bad the guy wasn't black, because there would be riots in the street until the video was produced. Why don't white people care when other white people get killed by the cops? Not that they don't care, but they don't demand action of the cops. I am sure that there is a judge somewhere who would allow the tapes to be released to the family's attorneys on a foia. Oh, and one last question: What was the race of the cops who shot him? Sorry that's racist, but that's just the way it goes nowadays, thanks to Obie. And where is Obie to say that the cops acted stupidly???????

Posted by: TimothyJ at September 21, 2010 06:54 PM

RE: (5) "As Scott fell, presumably face down to the ground, what... acts on the part of Scott motivated multiple officers to keep firing into his back?"

Typical, reactive, pack mentality. Add; easy target.

Wolves exercise better control. Frightened poodles, not so much.

See "negligent retention," as if the pack would somehow react differently because 'Trigger-Happy-Tom' was there next to them, gun drawn, high-ready.

Well, I have a slightly different take; Tom's presence is a virtual license to kill. And is why "Tom" will always be...retained.

Posted by: Jason Roth at September 21, 2010 07:13 PM

"The fact is that the police shot and killed him while they had him under control and he was posing no threat to them."-TimT

Murder. And co-conspirators aiding and abetting.

Either police have open season on the populace -OR- there is the "rule of law".

Mexicans lost control over their cops. But Americans will not tolerate cop cartels.

We must all hope that wiser heads prevail, and charges for murder and for conspiracy are filed. Or police create a situation where "there is no law". Murder and lying to protect murderers is a gang/cartel activity.

Without "the rule of law", Citizens will have to control and disarm cops, "for citizen safety", if they want to live. Or accept domination by the cartel, and these regular 'acceptable' deaths.

Everyone expects cartel behavior from LVPD. I hope for the rule of law; because blatant cartel behavior would destroy belief in the rule of law, and it would make this just another dangerous 3rd world country. Rule of force, rather than rule of law. Nobody wants that... except the police are creating that.

May wiser heads prevail.
I'm too old for anarchy.

Posted by: sofa at September 21, 2010 08:52 PM

Orion "The sort of fear and hysteria evidenced by the Costco folks seems to be a direct out-growth of the anti-gun movement. The mere SIGHT of a holstered firearm was enough to cause Costco to summon many armed officers who were ready to kill on sight."

What makes it even worse is that Nevada is an "open
carry" state. Rated Gold Star Open Carry by You would think people in Nevada would NOT lose their minds upon seeing a firearm.

Posted by: rickb223 at September 21, 2010 09:03 PM

My Comment, Part II

At no point was there any claim that the victim had a weapon in is hands; or that any of the shooters could see a weapon; and the fact is, that he had a weapon is incidental and fortuitous to the shooters.

Had US Soldiers done this in the 'Stan they would surely be accused of war crimes, prosecuted by their own command, and likely convicted of cold-blooded murder. Fairly so, given that they killed a man merely because some unknown informant pointed at him.

The fact that our civil authorities will tolerate treatment of own civilians that we do not tolerate of our enemies speaks volumes of what kind of country we really are.

Posted by: Druid at September 21, 2010 09:22 PM

It sounds very likely that all the videos and 911 tapes will turn out to be "unusable".

Let us pray that some bystander video'd this, and that the police of Las Vegas will not arrest and/or shoot him when he shows up.

Posted by: Ellen at September 21, 2010 09:32 PM

The new Chief of police in Dallas has fired 10
officers since taking office. Most recently,
one officer was fired, and others are facing
criminal charges, for _beating_ a suspect who
tried to evade arrest.

The killing of Erik Scott, and the coverup,
are a clear warning to the citizens and the
businesses of Las Vegas that their police
department, and their city government, are
in need of radical reform.

Posted by: M. Report at September 21, 2010 10:14 PM

I have never been a peace officer or a lawyer.

Having said that: I thought this was a balanced and useful article. I'm a bit distressed by some of the comments. This may very well be a case of manslaughter, though a different picture may come out in discovery if the family sues for wrongful death. But murder 1? What motive would the cops have to premeditate Scott's murder?

Posted by: Vader at September 21, 2010 11:37 PM

I'd like to clear up some false information presented in this comment thread:

Costco states in its membership agreement that private firearms are not allowed in their stores. Therefore, he WAS wrong about being able to carry there, regardless of his carry permit, and had acknowledged it by signing the membership agreement. Read what you sign.

This is false.

Costco's anti-gun policy is not included in the text of the membership agreement or rules of conduct that prospective members sign when they join.

They specifically attempt to keep their anti-gun policies concealed from customers...this is also why they do not post their stores.

The policy does exist and is spelled out in the "knowledgebase" section of their web site, but you must follow a very specific and arduous route to get to it. It is not unambiguously and prominently stated on their web site and is not mentioned in the membership agreement at all.

Basically, they are an anti-gun organization, but they don't want the 80 million+ gun owners in this country to know about it because then those gun owners may choose Sam's Club instead.

The big problem is that employees are well aware of the policy. When I first found out about Costco's policy SEVERAL YEARS AGO, I inquired about it at my local Costco. The employees there readily verified that Costco has a "no guns" policy, but when I asked to see this in writing, they could not produce it. I was referred to the corporate office, which e-mailed me a statement similar to the one available in the Knowledgebase article on their web site linked above.

I complained at the time that their policy was effectively a "secret", warned them that this could create a dangerous situation, and advised them that gun owners need to be made aware of it. The issue has obviously never been resolved...with disastrous consequences.

Costco has a no guns policy that they refuse to let customers know about ahead of time but which employees are trained to enforce.

Couldn't possibly have foreseen any unintended consequences there, huh?

I hope the Scotts sue Costco into the stone age. As far as I'm concerned, Costco murdered Erik Scott. The Police were the murder weapon, but the premeditation and overt act that resulted in Mr. Scott's death are completely and totally the responsibility of Costco.

Posted by: Sailorcurt at September 21, 2010 11:55 PM

If Costco does not terminate the employees involved in this murder (especially the manager for handing over ALL copies of the video) I will be very happy to drive an extra 15 miles to Sam's.

The employees should be granted all of the benefit of doubt and due process given to Erik Scott.

This all started with the Costco employee freaking out and the manager escalating matters. Having them fired won't be much justice but it might be all that's left after the LVPD is done with it.

Posted by: Director at September 22, 2010 01:41 AM

I would love to be on the civil jury that tries this case. The Scotts would own Costco when it was over.

We've already got a situation where even the police themselves say you should not speak to them in a criminal situation without a lawyer. Now you've got them killing people who are simply doing what the law clearly allows them to do. To make it worse, it appears they're trying to cover up their crime. You know you can't trust the crooks; now it appears you can't trust the police either.

Maybe it's time to leave this country.

Posted by: mac at September 22, 2010 02:59 AM

Hopefully the NRA and other organizations will help highlight Costco's anti-gun policies which the company appears to want to hide from its customers. While I have been a Costco shopper in the past this is a big disincentive to shop there anymore.

Posted by: PR at September 22, 2010 08:18 AM

@patHMV.... a couple of things about the shooting. It was not Halloween night, it was a week prior. The family had been robbed recently. The exchange student had been told to scare people and was running toward the homeowner flailing his arms. He was shot about 5 feet from him.

Posted by: Roux at September 22, 2010 09:11 AM
I'm pretty sure that the police are legally allowed to confiscate those cellphone and video tapes as evidence.

You're improperly using a legal term: "confiscate". Read the link in the other reply, which specifically talks about the BART shooting of Oscar Grant and the aftermath of that, and you'll see that we're talking about robbery. There's no legal right for a police officer to steal your property. They can take items into evidence that are related to the crime, but unless you're committing a crime with your camera (i.e. child porn) it's not evidence.

Again, I've yet to read any case where the police stole someone's camera and did anything except delete the photos. I'd love to read about an honest cop, so feel free to send any counterexamples.

Posted by: Michael Chaney at September 22, 2010 10:37 AM

"When the time comes, if they are reluctant to make the evidence public, if evidence has been in any way mishandled, or worse, altered or destroyed, the public would be justified in drawing the most negative and damaging conclusions."


If I were on the jury at the criminal trial, the most negative conclusion would be that the three police officers who shot Eric Scott should be found guilty of murder and all receive lethal injections. If on the jury at the civil trial, the most negative and damaging conclusion would be that Costco will now be known as Scottco since the late man's family would wind up owning the company. I would also award the family enough damages to raise Las Vegas property taxes for the next 20 years.

Perhaps enough if enough trials went that way it would serve as an incentive to not destroy evidence.

Posted by: Mark at September 22, 2010 10:56 AM

Alot of if, ands, and buts, but precious little facts.

I think you should wait for the inquest and for the videos to be released.

And I noticed that you ignored the Las Vegas Journals articles on Scott's drug use. His father has admitted that he took three prescription pain medications each day. Guns and prescrition pain medication don't mix.

One of his ex-wives also stated that he was addicted to pain medication and used illegal steroids.

And why was he tearing apart packages of bottled water? That is not normal behavior.

He was asked to leave and he did not. He was asked to get on the ground by the police and he went for his gun.

Unless you have some evidence and not just speculation, you are just making things up.

I am concerned about your casual disregard for the private property rights of Costco. You seem to think that they should be in the security business rather than retail sales. What training does one need to ask someone to leave, he refuses, you see his gun and you call the police. Negociation training? telephone training? Just what is needed to report someone damaging your property and refusing to leave?

Posted by: Federale at September 22, 2010 01:57 PM


You might want to actually read some of the other accounts. When he went for his gun, he did so slowly while telling the officer that was yelling at him to "DROP IT!!!" that he was disarming himself in compliance with the officer's orders.

The fact is that he was complying with at least one of them. Problem is there were different sets of orders and he can't comply with all of them at once. You're blaming him for listening to the wrong officer.

Posted by: Mike T at September 22, 2010 02:51 PM

Las Vegas may be little more than an essentially abandoned "slum" in the not too distant future. Incidents such as this can be understood as both causal and symptomatic. It is also likely that the terminal economic decline of Las Vegas will not be considered as worthy of much note.

Posted by: Scott at September 22, 2010 11:45 PM

**************Posted by Michael Chaney at September 22, 2010 10:37 AM **************

Hey Mike,

I read the stuff at the other link. It was interesting, but I'm not gonna pretend that I know enough about this stuff to make any sort of accurate decision based off of that link, your comment, or my personal knowledge.

I mean, I'm sure you know your stuff. But *I* don't.

Posted by: ed at September 23, 2010 02:14 AM


"I think you should wait for the inquest and for the videos to be released."

That may be a long wait. I have read that the video cannot be recovered from the disks that the police confiscated from Costco. Do you have other information?

Eric Scott's ex-wife said bad things about him? Over the years I have known a number of people who have gotten divorced. In many of those cases, people said bad things about their ex-spouse. Many of those bad things turned out not to be true. You might want a more reliable source before you accept that information. Were any of the cops or Costco employees divorced? What did their ex-spouses have to say about them?

As for Costco's private property rights to exclude guns from its stores. Costco does have a "no guns" policy and its employees are told about this policy. However, Costco does not post signs to inform shoppers of this policy or make the information readily available except by digging for it. That may be an oversight on their part or it may be a deliberate decision to not lose business from gun owners. I know that they will not be getting any more business from me. Sam's Club is actually a little closer to my house.

Posted by: Mark at September 23, 2010 11:12 AM

You say "police shootings of the innocent are uncommon". I have to laugh in dusgust. Even if innocent, police will make their victims appear to be guilty, and even when they fail in doing that, the courts will always rule a police killing of an innocent person is justified. I have never in my life seen a police officer prosecuted for intentionally killing an innocent person in the course of their duties.

Posted by: Mike Lorrey at September 23, 2010 04:10 PM

It is ironic that the main piece of evidence that could prove what actually happened is a damaged hard drive from the security cameras. The police seized the hard drive and it is damaged. After holding it for over two months they announce that it is damaged. This will cast a cloud of doubts over the entire proceedings. Second, the wound to the buttocks. From the coroner's description the round entered his buttocks, went up through his bowels, and lodged in his chest. Figure out the angles. Basically someone had to more or less fire up through his rear end. How did that occur? Why? Why shoot him four times in the back as he lay on the ground? Destroyed evidence and questionable wounds.

Posted by: ConcernedCitizen at September 23, 2010 10:16 PM

Watching the court proceedings it occurred to me that Costco and the police had created an extremely dangerous situation for the customers in Costco. Once the policemen drew their weapons, pointed them at Mr. Scott, and began yelling commands they had made a mountain out of a molehill. They had created a situation with some very bad possible outcomes. Erik then had to jump through the hoops correctly or end up dead. Do we live in a free Republic? If a policeman can draw a gun on us for exercising a God-given right, bark commands, then shoot us with impunity, perhaps this is no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave. I feel bad that we have some policemen who are so scared they can no longer interact with the public in a rationale manner. Fortunately many areas do not have this problem and the law enforcement officers are solid citizens who act logically. Las Vegas appears, given it record of shooting unarmed citizens and citizens dropping guns, to have a big training problem.

Posted by: ConcernedCitizen at September 25, 2010 01:13 PM

I have been watching the murder of Eric Scott by Las Vegas Metro. What a scary situation. I truly belive that Officer Mosher was too aggressive in his actions. He had his weapon drawn before Eric Scott exited the building. Although Eric Scott was unstable he never had a chance to comlpy with the commands that were being yelled at him. From the testimony, he tried to show the weapon to Mosher but Mosher took this as having the weapon, which was still in its holster, being pointed at him. He took this as a danger to his life and in a few seconds murdered Eric Scott. 2 other officers joined in the execution, shooting Eric Scott 4 times in the back as he was falling to the ground. What is amazing is that no other person was shot or injured. Alot of people were within 5 feet of the shooting.

I can't believe Metro didn't handle this in a more professional manner. It was like "Ready Fire Aim". I am shocked that a professional police force would show so little control over a dangerous situation and just open fire in such close quarters. The Costco store where this shooting took place is in an upscale area of Las Vegas and many professionals were shopping there that day. One of the best witnesses was a doctor who was within 5 feet of the shooting and stated after Eric Scott was shot, no one attempted to provide aid to Eric or do CPR. They just handcuffed him and let him lay there. He was afraid to offer aid as he wittnessed what happened.

I will really be upset if the jury finds this shooting as justified. However with the current coroner inquest system, the DA's can offer any evidence and witnesses can state any opinion they want. I consider this as a sad day in Las Vegas, my home for the last 15 years.

Posted by: Scared Citizen at September 25, 2010 11:13 PM

The 911 Reporter of Costco and 3 officers should be put behind bars for the rest of their lives. How is it that the officer ,fat one, having killed before and he stated he had drawn his gun over 100 times in the past 5 years still be on the police force? He demonstrated he knew he was in trouble by having to wear body armor to the inquest.
Please Scott Family stay strong to see justice.

Posted by: Helen MCDuff at September 27, 2010 06:13 AM