October 02, 2010

The Erik Scott Case: Update 4

Since Update 3.2, much has changed. The seven person Coroner’s Inquest jury deliberated only 90 minutes before unanimously finding the officers justified in shooting Erik Scott. Considering the unchallenged evidence presented by the prosecutors, there was no other reasonable verdict. Yet, in at least one instance, the public was treated to the bizarre spectacle of prosecutors trying to discredit one of their own witnesses whose testimony--perhaps coming as a surprise to prosecutors--did not adhere to prosecution theory.

We know more of the facts to at least some degree of certainty, but most of the evidence, and the most potentially accurate and telling evidence, has not yet been produced. It will doubtless take the discovery process of the civil trial Erik’s father, William Scott, has announced for a reasonable semblance of the complete story to unfold. It seems clear that the authorities are not going to provide more than has been made public unless they have no choice, and in the case of any potential videotape, perhaps not even then. More on this shortly.

Before we get into analysis of the 9-11 transcript (available here) and a partial transcript of police radio traffic (available here), we’ll address the concerns of Confederate Yankee commenters on Update 3.2 and add additional information.

A commenter asked why officers are allowed to keep their weapons when under suspicion in a shooting. Officers are citizens and are entitled to the presumption of innocence until they are proven guilty. In addition, in the daily pursuit of their duties, even the most competent, scrupulously honest officers make enemies, many of whom are not known to them, enemies who might be tempted to take revenge if they suspected an officer did not have the means to protect himself or his family. If a case is so clearly egregious that an officer is under arrest or likely to be arrested, their superiors may take possession of their weapon(s). This option is always open, but generally not used in any but the most obvious cases. Every police agency has its own internal policies and procedures, but the rationale I’ve outlined is quite common.


(1) Officer William Mosher fired first and believed he shot Scott twice in the chest, but Medical Examiner testimony placed one of his shots in Scott’s chest and another in Scott’s thigh, though which thigh is, at the moment, unclear. This pattern of shooting would be consistent with high stress shootings where the first shot is more or less on target and the second or subsequent shots are substantially lower as the officer “jerks” the trigger, thrusting the muzzle downward.

(2) Officer Thomas Mendiola fired four shots, reportedly all striking Scott in the back. Mediola testified that he believed that each shot was made necessary by the continuing danger posed by Scott. As analysis will establish, such “danger” was surpisingly brief. However, it has also been established, as mentioned in Update 3.2, that one of these rounds struck Scott in the buttocks and traveled upward through his torso coming to rest in his chest. With this updated information, a scenario that may be more accurate than any we’ve been able to propose before is now possible.

(3) Officer Joshua Start fired one shot, but where it struck is unclear. The ME testified that one round hit Scott in an armpit, apparently under an upraised arm, but it’s not clear whether Mendiola or Start fired that shot. It is unlikely that Mosher fired that particular shot for reasons that will be addressed shortly.

(4) Las Vegas Firefighter/EMT Chris Thorpe was among the first medical personnel to treat Scott. He found Scott facedown and handcuffed with no heartbeat and no breathing and asked the police to remove the cuffs. The officers complied and Scott was placed on a backboard and into an ambulance. While enroute to the hospital, Thorpe found a .380 Ruger semiautomatic handgun (which appeared to be an LCP model in a photograph of a Metro detective displaying it during the Inquest) in one of Scott’s pockets--presumably his pants pocket, and magazines in the other. He gave them to an officer who was accompanying them. While the LCP is a small handgun, missing the weapon and several magazines in Scott’s pants pocket does not speak well of the officers and may offer some insight into their post shooting states of mind.

(5) Officer Mosher testified that Scott was asked to leave by Costco employees and refused. In the transcript, Costco Security Employee Shai (pronounced “Shay”) Lierley told the dispatcher several times that Scott was told that weapons weren’t allowed, but did not tell the dispatcher that Scott was asked to leave, nor did the dispatcher ask that particular question. However, in the partial radio transcript, a dispatcher does tell responding officers that Scott was asked to leave, despite not being specifically told this by Lierley. Mosher also said that Costco told the police that Scott was showing signs of “ED” or “excited delerium.” The 9-11 transcript does not support this contention. Lierley was, as far as is currently known, the sole Costco employee providing information via cell phone to the police dispatcher as he followed Scott throughout the store. While Lierley did say that Scott was possibly under the influence of drugs, he also said that Scott “...may just be really hyperactive...” However, a dispatcher did tell responding officers “Male is possibly ED.” Apparently, the dispatcher made an assumption about this and used common police jargon, but in so doing, may, combined with telling the officers that Scott refused to leave, have unintentionally ratcheted up the degree of danger Scott represented in the minds of the responding officers. In this, Mosher testified truthfully about what he knew, but what he knew was likely false or at best, an unintentional misrepresentation.

(6) There is continuing confusion regarding the commands given by the officers prior to shooting Scott. A transcript of the 9-11 call introduced at trial indicates the following commands, all delivered in the space of a few seconds: “Put your hands up where I can see them, drop it, get on the ground, get on the ground.” Witnesses have testified to these commands (and more): “Don’t do that, don’t do that, get on the ground, drop it, get down, drop your weapon.” Listening to the 9-11 transcript, I could clearly hear “Get your hands where I can see them,” immediately followed by gunshots. I am unaware of any clear accounting of which officers spoke which of these commands, to say nothing of any others, in which order and in response to which actions by Scott--if any. However, the 9-11 transcript, difficult as it can be to understand (more on this in the analysis section), suggests that there were a number of conflicting commands delivered by more than one officer within the span of a few seconds, giving Scott little or no time to understand or respond.

(7) The police testified that the Costco video recording device was broken prior to the shooting and not repaired until thereafter, thus, absolutely no video of Scott’s actions inside the Costco store or of the shooting itself is available. Shai Lierley’s testimony supported the police account, stating that on July 7th, the Wednesday before Scott’s shooting on Saturday, July 10th, all store video was broken and was not repaired until after the shooting. That a major chain retail store in a major city would allow all of its security video to be out of service for even a day, let alone most of a week, beggars belief. Allowing their best source of defense against false claims and frivolous lawsuits to be out of order for one second longer than necessary suggests gross negligence on the part of Costco management. This is particularly true in Las Vegas, which has no shortage of state of the art video equipment and equipment suppliers, and even if this was not so, Los Angeles, where virtually any kind of related equipment can be had, is only a day trip (4 hours, 20 minutes according to Google Maps) away. Even if parts or equipment had to come from across the nation, virtually anything can be delivered overnight. The alternative explanation is substantially less innocent.

(8) Lierley also added interesting testimony that was apparently not echoed by any other witness. Remember that Lierley was following Scott while speaking to a dispatcher by cell phone. He was obviously close enough to the entrance to see the shooting (he told the dispatcher he was about ten feet away from Scott), but was just as obviously behind Scott. Lierley testified that an officer--presumably Mosher--touched Scott, who pushed his arm away. Lierley testified that Scott immediately raised his left hand above his shoulder while simultaneously going for his gun on his right side with his right hand. Lierley demonstrated these motions while testifying and his right hand went to his hip as if Scott’s holster was on his right hip. However, it is clear that Scott’s weapon was holstered at the small of his back under his shirt. The motion Lierley demonstrated could not have allowed Scott to reach that handgun. Nothing supporting this account is audible on the transcript.

(9) Howard Brooks, a public defender, testified that he saw Scott “walking normally” with all of the other customers leaving the store. Brooks said that Mosher yelled “drop it,” and fired instantly. Brooks testified that Scott began falling forward when two other officers (Mendiola and Start) approached and fired into Scott’s back. Brooks testified that he made a point of looking for a gun, but did not see one. Brooks is the witness that the prosecutors took pains to discredit, and considering his testimony, that’s understandable.

(10) Clayton Phillips, a Costco employee, testified that officers yelled “get down, drop your weapon” and that Scott reached for his gun, causing the officers to fire. His recollection of the commands issued differs significantly from the many differing versions in the recollections of others.


I’ve suggested a possible shooting scenario in past updates. Then and now I am hampered by a lack of a complete Inquest transcript which may or may not answer all of the questions necessary to know with certainty what happened, particularly since no cross examination, which would have allowed much greater detail to emerge, was allowed. If no video of the shooting is ever produced, the task is not impossible, but much more difficult. What remains unknown (and please, gentle readers, if you know where to find this information, let me know) is the exact location of each officer throughout the encounter, the muzzle to impact distance of each round fired, the exact sequence of firing and location of impact of each round, their tracks through Scott’s body to their eventual resting places as well as many other pertinent factors. Accordingly, any analysis at this point may be incorrect in few or many ways, but there is value in trying to understand and reconcile conflicting testimonies. And there would be value for Scott’s parents in seeing that a competent, independent autopsy is conducted as soon as possible to conclusively gather this information. Hopefully, it has not deteriorated or been altered or destroyed. Known testimony does suggest a more narrow range of possibilities than those of a week ago.

It now seems virtually certain that Scott was directly facing Officer Mosher throughout the confrontation and that the range from his muzzle to Scott’s body was quite short which would have greatly aided his marksmanship if the police account of only seven rounds fired, all of which hit Scott, is accurate. Mosher’s first shot likely struck Scott in the chest, and his hurried second shot was “jerked,” by a heavy, reflexive pull of the trigger and squeezing of the grip of his handgun rather than a consistent, progressive squeeze of the trigger in insolation, downward, striking Scott in the thigh.

To this point, it has been unclear exactly how Scott came to be shot in the back, but all testimony to date seems to indicate that after being shot by Mosher, Scott fell immediately to his knees and from there, in one continuous motion, to his face on the ground. In other words, immediately after Mosher’s rounds hit Scott, he began falling forward, toward Mosher, ending up prostrate, face down on the ground, closer to Mosher than he was when Mosher opened fire.

Within a second, likely less, Officers Start and Mendiola opened fire, again probably from close range, and at least Officer Mendiola must have been firing from behind Scott as he fell to his knees and then forward onto his face. This would explain the round that struck Scott in the buttocks and tracked through his torso into his chest. This round was likely fired last, hitting Scott as his upper torso pitched forward while his knees remained in contact with the ground, leaving Scott’s torso momentarily a bit less than parallel with the ground, his head slightly below the level of his buttocks. Unless the officer who fired this shot was on or near the ground when he fired--and there appears to be no such testimony--this is the only rational explanation currently available to explain this shot. At this point, Scott’s back would have been extremely difficult to hit unless an officer was standing almost directly over Scott, pointing his weapon almost straight downward. This scenario also accounts for the tendency of repeated rounds often to track downward due to trigger jerking. Paradoxically, this would have prevented the Officers from shooting each other. Officer Mendiola, rather than calmly and with deliberate, expert trigger control, lowering his muzzle with each shot to track Scott's falling back, jerked shots two through four, driving the muzzle consistently downward and by chance (to say nothing of dumb luck), ensuring that those rounds would strike Scott rather than Mosher or bystanders. The rounds may have even assisted gravity in driving Scott’s upper body forward. If this scenario is correct, the bullet tracks for at least some of these rounds should have been angled upward, back to front, as Scott’s body pitched forward.

Still unexplained is the round that struck Scott in the armpit. This would have essentially required that Scott’s arm be raised, which would be particularly problematic for the police if the round struck Scott’s right armpit as it would indicate that his arm remained raised and was not, therefore, reaching for his handgun. This would also practically require that the officer, possibly Officer Start, was on Scott’s flank, perhaps toward his back, as he fired and not standing near Officers Mosher or Mendiola. It is also possible that Scott may have momentarily turned his side toward the officers behind him, but this too is currently not clear. The timing of this round, which was likely one of the two rounds that the ME testified struck Scott’s heart, is important in helping to determine Scott’s physical and mental capacities throughout the encounter, but is, as far as I can determine, still unknown, or at least has not been made public.

If the scenario took place as I have suggested, there are a number of additional problems for the police. The locations of bystanders and their exposure to police fire remains unknown. Were citizens standing between Officers Start and Mendiola and Scott? Could the Officers clearly see Scott and his every motion as he was confronted by Officer Mosher? From the beginning of the encounter until they ceased fired? Each of them? If Scott was in fact between Mendiola and Start and Mosher as would be required by the scenario I’ve suggested, the officers were essentially a circular firing squad, and Mosher was in the most immediate danger of being hit by friendly fire, particularly as Scott’s body dropped to the ground as his fellow officers poured fired into the rapidly diminishing target of his back. If this is indeed the case, and with what is known, it seems the most likely scenario, the three officers are fortunate indeed that they did not shoot themselves or innocent bystanders.

In Update 3.2, I noted Metro Captain Patrick Neville who assured the public that they were never in danger as the officers were careful to choose a pillar (as in one, single pillar) that supported a canopy as a bullet backstop. As I noted, for this to be even remotely plausible, all three officers must have been facing Scott and must have been closer than shoulder to shoulder so as to align their weapons in a direct line with the pillar as the termination point for any errant rounds, and with Scott’s body directly intersecting that straight line of fire. In addition, they would have had to have been capable of, within mere seconds of simultaneously realizing that they needed a backstop, seeing the pillar, recognizing its size and composition as appropriate to the task, and moving into position relative to Scott and the pillar to use it as a backstop. Absent this simultaneous thought process, we are apparently expected to believe that it was merely dumb luck that all of the stars, so to speak, aligned in a once-in-a-million-year happenstance. If the officers were not all facing Scott, Captain Neville’s assurance is rendered even more dubious as the officers were essentially using each other (and everything and everyone around them) as a backstop. A final major problem with the police version of supernatural attention to public safety is that unless the pillar was substantially wider than a human body and was made of materials that would absorb and hold, rather than deflect, incoming rounds, it would have served not as a backstop, but as a random ricochet generator. Most support pillars are made of concrete, structural steel, or some combination of these. Even rounds striking at a direct right angle in every plane would experience some degree of spatter (fragmentation of the lead core and copper jacketing of the bullets), potentially injuring those close by. At virtually any other angle, ricochets are a virtual certainty.

There remains one additional interesting item. The ME testified that she could not determine the distances of the Officer’s muzzles from the impact points on Scott’s body. Forensic scientists hired by Scott’s family should conduct gunpowder patterning and residue tests at varying distances using, if possible, the officer’s weapons and the same ammunition used during the shooting. If not, identical weapons and ammunition should be used. I do not suggest that the ME testified falsely, but at the ranges at which these rounds may have been fired, it seems unlikely that gunpowder tattooing was either not present or was so indistinct as to render any meaningful analysis impossible.


In analyzing the 9-11 call, certain difficulties were apparent. The recording was taken from a recording of the original call, which was played on 09-23-10 in the Inquest and recorded on the spot by an unknown brand and model of video recorder in less than ideal acoustic conditions. While the voices of the dispatcher and Shai Lierley are consistently intelligible, there is substantial background noise of various kinds. While Lierley does not specify that he is speaking on a cell phone while following Scott throughout the store, the transcript strongly suggests that this is what he was doing. It is interesting that when the Dispatcher asked if and how Lierley was keeping Scott in sight (particularly asking if he was tracking Scott via camera), he said nothing at all about having no video capability, but only ”I’m full observation.” If no video was available, wouldn’t Lierley have told the Dispatcher? The sounds of people talking and of the kinds of hubbub one commonly hears in busy, warehouse sized retail stores like Costco on a Saturday are also continuously audible in the background.

What is odd is that what appears to be police and dispatcher radio traffic can also be, more or less continuously, heard in the background. Please keep in mind that I do not have sophisticated audio filtering equipment and am relying on the Mark I Human Ear, two each, listening to a recording of a recording. That said, this is particularly odd as dispatchers are commonly supplied with individual headsets which incorporate sensitive microphones that virtually eliminate any background noise, even when they have opened their microphones to speak. This is a necessity in a busy dispatch center where multiple dispatchers are answering phones, talking with each other, clacking computer keyboards and speaking with multiple officers by radio. There is no question about the background noise coming from Lierley’s side of the conversation as cell phones generally have continuously open microphones, but it is quite unusual to hear the amount of apparent background noise coming from the police side of the conversation. In fact, there are several points in the recording, which lasts approximately 14:40, when background noise becomes overwhelming and eliminates coherent speech for lengthy periods. I am unable to determine the cause of this with the methods available to me.

The time stamp that accompanies the transcript begins with “Las Vegas Police,” at approximately 1:08. While intelligible, portions of the tape are difficult to understand, and it is impossible to be accurate to the tenth of a second, so all time frames should be considered to be approximate rather than absolutely definitive. My best guess is that they’re accurate to +-1 second. The entire transcript is not reproduced here. Much of the transcript is the kind of routine information gathering common to such calls and has no particular bearing on our analysis. One of the most significant problems that certainly will have some effect on this analysis is that the 9-11 transcript lasts approximately 14:40 while the radio transcript, which is billed as a partial transcript, runs for more than 17 minutes. Radio transmissions and my comments will be enclosed in brackets and indented.

1:11 (Shai Lierley tells the Dispatcher): “Ah, we just approached him because he had firearms on himself, and we’re telling him he can’t have a firearm inside our store...”

1:22 (SL): NO, we’re--we approached him right now telling him he can’t have a firearm, and he’s just acting a little erratic about it, telling me he’s a Green Beret, and he has a right to carry.

2:09 (Dispatch): “Where does he actually have it that you see it? SL responds: “Ah, it’s on the back end of him...” The dispatcher inquires further and SL says the weapon is “...tucked in the back of his pants...”

[By this point, it is likely that another dispatcher has made the initial radio call to officers. The partial radio time stamp shows this as 6:53. “Units in V3, a 413--man with a gun--at Costco...The male is inside the business to the rear of, has a 413--gun--that’s tucked into the back of his pants. We’re still landline.” Multiple officers and a police helicopter immediately acknowledge and head for the Costco. The 9-11 and radio transcripts time stamps are not synchronized, however, police records should be synchronized, or can be synchronized with proper equipment.]

2:20 (D): “Right. And he didn’t threaten anybody with it or anything like that?”

2:22 (SL): “No. It’s just that he’s acting real erratic, and then, uh, just like ripping open our products...”

[By this point, Lierley is speaking very rapidly and his voice is in a higher register. He is obviously excited. He does become calmer late in the recording.]

3:09 (SL): “He, he he may be high. I mean he’s just real fast real dodgity so...” (interrupted by the dispatcher).

3:17 (D): “Um, he-s--he’s not removing clothing or anything?”

[This is an odd question. Absent a specific reason to believe that Scott was taking off his clothing, such as the crime being reported was indecent exposure or something similar, it’s difficult to imagine why the Dispatcher asks it.]

3:19 (SL): “No."

3:20 (D): “So would you say he’s being violent to merchandise?”

[This too is an odd question. Few people who think that someone in a store is throwing merchandise about would infer that they were being violent toward merchandise, toward inanimate objects. Because it is the only question of this type, and because it is so brief, perhaps the Dispatcher is hunting for reasons to continue her belief that Scott is a dangerous, continuing threat, perhaps it's a sort of unusually lengthy verbalized pause, or she may just be thinking out loud before fully forming those thoughts.]

3:22 (SL): “Ah, yes, just--just throwing it around, and then trying to put all these canteens into one small bag. And when a couple managers have approached him and asked him if they could help, he starts saying no, he wants a certain type.”

[Approximately 1:10 later, at 8:03 on the radio timestamp, the Dispatcher tells the responding officers: “The male inside the business is acting erratic, throwing merchandise around, possibly high on unknown type of 446-- narcotics or drugs.” Remember that the radio transcript is not continuous. It’s not possible to tell exactly when these radio calls went out, but it may be reasonable to assume that this particular call would not have been made until the Dispatcher received the information from Lierley.]

[Approximately 13 seconds later, at timestamp 8:16, Dispatch transmits: “...they are requesting CIT--Critical Incident Team--Male is possibly ED--experiencing “excited delerium.” Lierley did not say this, so it’s apparent that this is an assumption made by the Dispatcher using common police jargon/verbal shorthand. However, this would have immediately ratcheted up the internal danger level indicator, as would calling for the CIT, in every responding officer’s brain.]

4:15 (D): “Do you have somebody in the front that can direct us to this guy?

4:16 (SL): “Ah, yeah. I mean (unintelligible).”

[At 5:12 Lierley is telling someone, repeatedly, to meet the responding officers “up front.”]

5:19 (D): “Is it still tucked into his belt?”

5:20 (SL): “Yeah, it’s tucked into the back end and with--with a concealed holster.”

6:20 (SL): “But he may just be really hyperactive or what not.”

7:18 (D): “Okay. Just let me know when you see them. Are you watching him on a camera?”

7:20 (SL): “No, ah, I’m full observation.”

7:21 (D): Okay. How is he behaving right now?”

7:22 (SL): “Ah, the same. He’s just like fidgety. Now he’s kinda like, ah, talking loud to his girlfriend right now, saying he has the right to carry his firearm.”

[Notice that Lierley has moderated his initial characterization of Scott, who is now, perhaps merely “hyperactive, “dodgity,” or “fidgety.” Note too that Scott was not “talking loud” to Sterner, but was “kinda talking loud.” The Dispatcher does not inform the responding officers of what seems a significant change in Scott’s behavior, deescalating rather than escalating, as reported by Lierley.]

[Approximately 1:02 later, after the 8:16 transmission at 9:18, the Watch Commander transmits: “Have those units shut down code when they get close. Let’s not get this guy more excited than he already is.” This is obviously a wise decision. At 9:53, the Dispatcher transmits a description of Scott, which includes the location of his handgun.]

10:02 (D): “Right. Like if you would just let me know when where he goes until we get there.”

10:04 (SL): “Yeah. Yeah, yeah, no problem.”

10:16 (D): “...We have a unit that’s actually arriving, so let me know when you see them. And you have somebody waiting in front, right?”

[For approximately a minute at this point, there is loud static/background noise that makes understanding the 9-11 transcript virtually impossible.]

[Approximately 3:45 later, at 13:18, the Dispatcher radios: “It looks like the subject is still inside the business, argumentative with the manager who asked him to leave, telling him there’s no 413’s allowed inside the business, break (used on the radio when the person transmitting needs to stop for a second but intends to continue a longer transmission without interruption). The manager is a Green Beret and is allowed to carry a 413. He’s throwing merchandise around; he’s still in aisle 126 in the camping area, break. He appears to be fidgety. A female joined the male. She’s described as Hispanic, 30’s, black long hair, wearing black tank and blue jeans. Security’s going to be standing outside the business in front of, to wait for officers to direct, brea. He’s walking through the camping area towards the front of the business on the main aisle.”]

[Notice that the dispatcher has confused the manager with Scott, unless the manager was a Green Beret who was allowed to carry in the store. If this is the case, it’s possible that Scott was not calling himself a Green Beret, and Lierley and the Dispatcher were confused about that, but there appears to be no information clarifying this point. The Dispatcher also tells the officers that Scott has been asked to leave, but has refused. She did not get this information from Lierley, but apparently assumed it. “Throwing merchandise around,” was never clarified, but it’s reasonable to believe that the officers took it in its most threatening sense. And again, Scott was described as “fidgety.”]

10:21 (SL): “Yes.”

11:01 (D): “Do you see him yet, Shai?”

[By this point, an officer at the store has asked the Watch Commender for permission to “...start slowly evacuating people out of the business without alerting anybody...” and has received it. However, it appears that Costco simply made a PA announcement, without explanation, telling everyone to evacuate at once. The police interview of Samantha Sterner, made after the incident, revealed that when this announcement was made, she told Scott she thought he might be the cause, which surprised him. Nevertheless, they began calmly walking out of the store with all of the rest of the shoppers.]

11:02 (SL): “Ah, no ma’am.”

11:03 (D): “Yeah, they might be waiting for somebody else to get there. There’s actually quite a few units that are coming, Okay?”

11:13 (SL): “It was all like they had six big boys come in. And he ended up having a big old knife on him. We had one where another guy got stabbed.

11:17 (D): “Oh no.”

[This story, told by Lierley, may indicate a predispostion to overreact by local Costco security personnel based on recent incidents. The dispatcher’s “Oh no,” said with a tone of apparently genuine shock and surprise, is itself surprising as most Dispatchers in similar situations have no time for stories, embellishments, or ramblings by those to whom they are speaking, and rather than listen, tactfully redirect them.]

[At 14:06 on the radio time stamp, an officer, apparently at the store, transmits: “...manager says it’s escalating inside and he’s still talking loudly and destroying merchandise.” It is difficult to reconcile the 9-11 transcript with the radio transcript, so it is hard to determine where this information is coming from, possibly from a store manager who approached an officer with information that was, by then, outdated. It is apparently not from Lierley, but it would certainly have the effect of increasing the Officer’s sense of danger and urgency.]

11:18 (SL): “Henderson. Yeah, we were saying that we are playing it real safe on some of our shops now.”

11:21 (D): “Oh, heck yeah. You have to.

11:25 (D): “Which way is he walking?

12:01 (SL): “Um, up towards the front.”

12:02 (D): “And he’s walking fast?”

12:04 (SL): “Yeah, he’, he’s lifting up his fire...well...he’s keeping it up but he’s keeping his hand on the firearm. Pulling up his pants.

12:07 (D): “He’s putting his hand on it?”

12:08 (SL): “Yeah, but he just took it back off. He was putting his hand on it. Pulling it up, but then...walking towards the front now...”

[What Lierley is observing is not at all threatening, and should be obvious to anyone who carries a concealed weapon, which will tend to pull one’s belt and pants continuously downward. Scott was merely readjusting his holstered handgun to ride more comfortably. In other words, he's trying to keep it concealed. Fortunately, it does not appear that this information was transmitted to the Officers, who, had they heard it, might have been even more nervous about the confrontation with Scott. At 15:45, an officer transmits “...we need units to clear these people out of here. We’re attempting to evacuate right now; get as many people out as possible.” At this point, none of the officers know who Scott is or where he is, yet they’re trying to evacuate the entire store. This is not good tactics.]

13:22 (D): “Is he walking out?”

13:23 (SL): “Yeah, are we are we...evacuating the building.”

14:03 (D): “Now are they, uh, is he walking outside now?”

[An Officer radios at 17:36: “We’ve got two officers here at the front doors watching everybody come out.” Seconds later, the Dispatcher transmits that she is still speaking with Lierley by phone and employees are still watching Scott “...due to him ripping open packages. They’re concerned of a 414A.” It appears that the Dispatcher is reiterating prior information as the 9-11 transcript indicates that Scott was opening packages some time earlier, but not at the time of this transmission. Adding that Scott is committing a “414A,” a petty thief, is strange at this point in the incident, considering the seriousness of the potential threat posed by Scott. Perhaps the Dispatcher realized she had not yet mentioned that possibility and decided to add it to be sure she covered all bases.]

14:05 (SL): “Yes, he’s about ten feet away. I see the officer standing at the door right now.”

14:07 (D): “Who is?”

14:08 (SL): “I see the officers right now.”

14:09 (D): “You see them?”

14:10 (SL): “Yes.”

14:11 (D): “And do they see him?”

14:12 (SL): “Ah, negative.”

14:13 (D): “Have they walked out the door right now? What is that guy doing right this...”

14:16 (Unidentified Officer’s Voice(s) in Background): “Put your hands where I see them now, drop it, get on the ground, get on the ground...”

[At 14:18, multiple, rapidly fired gunshots can be clearly heard in the background.]

[Officer call sign 2V16, probably Mosher, at 19:11, radios, and the transcript indicates he’s yelling: “2V16, we got shots fired, shots fired!” The Dispatcher asks if anyone is down and 2V16 does not directly reply, saying only “Roll medical.” Approximately 27 seconds later, 2V16 is asked if it is safe for others to enter the building. He does not respond to this question but blurts out: “He pulled a 413 and pointed it in my direction.” Is this an officer who is still unsettled by the shock of a shooting, or an officer trying to get information on the record that he knows will help him later? This was apparently not pursued at the Inquest.]

14:19 (D): “Shay. Hello. Shay.”

14:20 (SL): “He pulled a firearm. Yeah, I’m here, I’m here.”

14:22 (D): “Where is he?”

14:23 (SL): ...shots have been fired, shots have been fired.”

14:25 (D): “I just heard? You hear shots fired Shai?”

15:02 (SL): “Yes I did, shots have been fired.”

15:03 (D): “Who, who fired them?”

15:04 (SL): “The Officers...firearm. You have a man down.”

15:08 (D): “Shai, I’m gonna disconnect. Okay?”

[After about a minute of the loudest static and background noise in the entire transcript, the call abruptly stops, but at 15:15 another caller from Costco calls dispatch to report shots fired. The call lasts until 16:13 when the dispatcher disconnects and says “Oh my God.” The significance of this exclamation, and who made it, are unknown.]

[At 1957, AIR5, apparently transmitting from a police helicopter, radios: “They’ve got him out front, they’re taking him into custody. Hold the traffic.” Scott is apparently being handcuffed. The Dispatcher acknowledges and repeats this information. Other officers radio instructions to prevent anyone from leaving Costco so that they can find witnesses. The transcripts ends approximately 15 seconds later.]


Because of the difficulty reconciling the transcripts, it’s difficult to be precise, however, a number of important issues have been, if not absolutely established as fact, at least, clarified.

(1) The frequent bursts of obscuring background noise, particularly at the end of the 9-11 tape, may be nothing more than technical glitches, but considering the real possibility of the Police mishandling other evidence, may be more sinister. It is, at this point, not possible to tell which.

(2) The Dispatcher’s comments about Scott’s actions and his physical state are only partially accurate. That, and their timing, almost certainly contributed to the continuing escalation of potential danger in the minds of the Officers.

(3) Lierley, is clearly following Scott and keeping him in sight while talking to the Dispatcher by cell phone. Having initially described Scott as being dangerously under the influence of drugs, his later observations sound like a man who is trying to “walk back” his initial observation without making himself seem like an inexperienced alarmist (police officers commonly look down on security guards, and all are aware of this). There is, after all, a substantial difference between someone who is out of control due to drugs, and someone who is only “hyperactive,” or then “dodgity” (whatever that means) and finally, “fidgety” (whatever that means). It seem likely that Lierley observed a man who was, after their initial contact, acting, if not absolutely normally at all times, perhaps a little unusually, but Lierley apparently did not know how to back down. Some of the dispatcher’s odd questions and comments remain inexplicable and did not help to deescalate the situation.

(4) The directions given by Lierley of Scott’s movements and locations are, at best, confusing and are never properly clarified by the Dispatcher. No responding officer would have a clue where “aisle 126” was, but if told that Scott was in the NW section of the building, or was 20 yards from the entrance doors, walking toward them, would have the information they needed. Dispatchers are trained to gather this kind of information, but apparently failed completely in this portion of her task. The result was that the officers were completely surprised by Scott’s abrupt appearance--and his identification--among them.

(5) The Radio transcript establishes that Officer call sign 2V16 said that two officers were at the Costco door. If 2V16 is Officer Mosher (and this is likely), it is probable that the two officers at the door were Start and Mendiola, which fits the shooting scenario I have suggested in this update. The transcript also indicates that what one officer hoped would be a controlled, low key evacuation, inadvertently turned into a simultaneous mass exodus with Scott, unaware of exactly what was happening, just another face in the crowd. The officers had no idea who Scott was, where he was, or what he was doing from minute to minute, and had no control of the situation. However, virtually every Dispatch update on Scott would have elevated the danger level on Officer’s internal threat displays.

(6) Neither transcript reveals which Costco employee identified Scott to the officers, but it is likely Lierley who, only seconds before the officers fired, told the Dispatcher that he could see Scott at the door and was only ten feet away.

(7) From the moment the Officer, probably Mosher, yelled “Get your hands where I can see them” until he fired two shots in rapid succession, only approximately two seconds elapse. The additional five shots are fired with a lapse between Mosher’s shots and theirs of only a fraction of a second, and the entire sequence of events, from Mosher’s yelled command and the final shot is only three to four seconds (from the first command until Lierley told the Dispatcher that shots had been fired, only seven seconds elapsed). It is also clear that a variety of confusing, contradictory commands were coming at Scott, from the Officer in front of him, and likely from two Officers behind him who he could not see, only adding to his shock and confusion.

The Officers were clearly caught by surprise to find Scott, a man who moments earlier walked past them and was obviously unremarkable, suddenly identified as the suspect, in their midst. Drawing down on him, their commands and responses were hasty, uncoordinated, and everyone in the immediate area including themselves was in danger, but not from Scott, from the Officers, who were likely pointing their weapons at each other with Scott between them (due to "tunnel vision" they would almost certainly have been unaware of the danger). Scott had, from the sound of the first command, only about two seconds to save his life. Witnesses testified that he was clearly “surprised”-- anyone would be--but given the time frame, he did not have sufficient time to respond to any command before being shot in the heart, and if he did, in fact, reach toward his right side, it may have been nothing more than a last ditch reaction to the surprise and stress, an attempt to disarm himself and defuse the situation. It was almost certainly not an attempt to shoot the Officers.

Officers did try to employ good tactics in evacuating the store, but did not pay attention to the details necessary to correctly implement those tactics, such as first establishing who Scott was and where he was so that the evacuation could isolate him, rather then compel him and every other shopper to leave en masse. In police work, Officers dealing with dangerous situations often have only seconds to think, decide and act. In this case, they had many minutes, by their usual standards a luxurious span of time. Yet the Officers did not use that time to observe Scott to form their own judgements of his behavior and intent. They did not use the time to positively locate his firearm. They made no affirmative attempt to separate him from the other shoppers. They did not have time for any concern for the positions of innocents before firing, or to consider safe backstops for their fire.

The Officers were never in control of the events; events controlled them, something that all Officers are taught is a worst possible outcome of any situation. Nor was Scott, who surely had no criminal intent, who almost certainly had no intention of harming anyone, in control of events. The sheer size and nature of the police response also contributed to the almost certain outcome.

(8) Officers overlook potential weapons on suspects every day of the week, however, all officers are taught to assume that if a suspect has one weapon, they have more. In this case, the officers had more than enough time and more than enough cause to search Scott thoroughly for an additional weapon. Their negligence in failing to find the .380 ACP Ruger pistol and its magazines, which any competent pat-down should have easily discovered, is disturbing and may speak to a variety of causes other than mere negligence, but insufficient evidence currently exists to venture a reasonable opinion. As the weapon was not a factor in this shooting, the police should be credited with bringing up an embarrassing detail in the Inquest, however, they may have done this primarily to more completely discredit Scott.

The analysis of this shooting is nearing an end. In the next, and likely final, update for the foreseeable future, we’ll explore where the case is, and what will likely happen in the next year or so. We will, of course, continue to provide updated information as it becomes available.

Posted by MikeM at October 2, 2010 09:49 PM

Thank you Mike for your detailed and insightful analysis. I'm grateful that someone with your experience and training has taken the effort to analyze this. Hopefully it will prevent similar tragedies in the future. Please consider following this in the future if more information from a civil trial or other medium becomes available. I'm very grateful that where I live the law enforcement officers are better trained and have more common sense. They also seem to do a great job policing their own ranks and have a great relationship with the public. May the Almighty bless you for your past, and continued, service to our Republic and its people.

Posted by: Concerned Citizen at October 2, 2010 11:30 PM

In Update 3.2, I noted Metro Captain Patrick Neville who assured the public that they were never in danger as the officers were careful to choose a pillar (as in one, single pillar) that supported a canopy as a bullet backstop...

You can us bing "costco,summerlin,nv" maps and get a good aerial (birds eyes) view of the front entrance. bing images also has a street level view of the front entrance as well.

Based upon the tire shop being on the right, I guess that the checkout and exit is on the right.

Looks to me like he was killed within three paces of the exit door.

Posted by: Drive By at October 3, 2010 01:36 AM

I can't help but think of the scene from the slapstick movie "Police Academy" (or a sequel) when there is a standoff, SWAT and a bunch of cops show up, a gun discharges accidentally, and every cop starts shooting, including the SWAT guy with at the catering truck getting a donut.

I suspect this kind of thing happened. Cop #1 fired twice, hitting center-mass and then the thigh. Cops #2 and #3 fired when they saw #1 fire, putting 5 (?) more shots into Mr. Scott.

Was #1 justified? Possibly .. I think he gets the benefit of the doubt at this point, although it is a close call. Were #2 and #3 justified? Probably not, unless there is some policy or practice that says shoot when your mates are shooting. But in all likelihood #1 killed him, so #2 and #3 are off the hook.

HOWEVER .. under no circumstances should any of those three carry a weapon or a badge ever again, as they clearly do not have the presence of mind or temperament to deal with a tense situation.

Erik Scott did not have to die that day.

Posted by: Tom J at October 3, 2010 01:49 PM

["Erik Scott did not have to die that day."]

Indeed Tom. What percentage would you give to Erik in contributing to his own demise? Could have Cop #1, #2 and #3, all evaluated the threat level equally in those seconds of sequence?

Dissimilar to the weeks MM and CY had to analyze and critique the incident, the Officers should only be judged with the information known at the instant of occurrence. Anything else would be adjusted knowledge, as they say.

Posted by: Buck T at October 3, 2010 03:13 PM

Will the DOJ file charges against the officers for violating the civil rights of Scott? I doubt it but the family should push for it. Also the family should file a lawsuit against the police department, Costco and individually against the Costco security person, the dispatcher and the police captain. Las Vegas police have a history of shooting first and then getting the facts to coincide with their take on the incident.

Posted by: Ken at October 3, 2010 03:34 PM

@Buck .. "Indeed Tom. What percentage would you give to Erik in contributing to his own demise?"

Perhaps 10%.

Certainly, it wasn't a completely random situation. He could have done lots of things to not get dead, most obviously to walk out the door as soon as the manager approached him.

But it is clear that, once the three cops raised their guns and started yelling conflicting orders, he was going to die. The cops seemingly were looking for a reason to shoot.

It is also clear that ..
1- he had no gun in his hand when CALMLY leaving the store.
2- his behavior when the police arrived and during the evacuation was not remarkable.
3- the police observed nothing which justified drawing their own guns on the man.
4- The situation was calm and quiet until the police drew their guns and started screaming.

So what exactly is the legal justification for the officers raising their guns and stopping him?

The idea that one should have to be calmer, more thoughtful, and more disciplined than the police in order to survive a confrontation is silly.

"Could have Cop #1, #2 and #3, all evaluated the threat level equally in those seconds of sequence?"

The evidence (including their own testimony) shows that Cop #1 fired first. Clearly then, #2 and #3 saw no need to fire until #1 fired. So the answer to your question is a clear no.

The final outcome of this really needs to be dramatically improved training and screening of LVPD officers.

Posted by: Tom J at October 3, 2010 06:44 PM


I have not visited this particular site before, but linked here from another blog that I read daily. I have been following the Erik Scott case through various other blogs and news excerpts. Your analysis is very good and I have a few comments to add in reference to some things that were said.

I have been a police officer for 25 years and have been involved in shooting incidents both as a civilian and as a police officer, so I can speak with some knowledge of what a person experiences during a shooting incident. As a supervisor I also try to stay on top of the latest research involving officer use of force. Some of the questions about the dynamics of the incident with Erik have been extensively researched with regard to similar situations involving officers use of deadly force and the results of that research can be accessed at Force Science Research, Ltd.'s website.

Before you and your readers assume that I will take the side of the cops automatically, let me say that I have been following this incident because I felt that the officers may have shot Erik unjustifiably. your analysis has given me a more detailed picture of what happened that day at Costco, and I now think that a number of factors came together to create in effect a "perfect storm" that resulted in Erik's tragic death.

I think that you are 100% correct in thinking that some of the things which were put out by dispatch may have increased the officers' level of perceived danger while responding to the call.

I also think that Erik had some degree of responsibility in the chain of events that lead to his shooting by LVMPD.

In addition, the actions taken by Costco's management and security personnel played a hugely negative role in what went down, and only served to enhance the danger present for Erik, their employees, the responding officers and all the Costco customers present during this incident.

Lastly, the responding officers actions in the immediate moment of the confrontation with Erik may have made the difference between what became a "shoot" scenario instead of a "no shoot" scenario.

One thing I will tell you, is that officers are confronted every day, all across this country with situations such as this one, which can go bad in a matter of milliseconds if only one of a myriad of different factors involved with human interaction under stress plays out in the wrong way.

Ken made the comment that LVMPD has a "history of shooting first and then getting the facts to coincide with their take on the incident". I hope that is not true. Most police officers don't go to work thinking "I'm gonna cap somebody today".
What they do go to work thinking is "I want to go home after shift to my wife and kids".

Most cops dread ever getting into a deadly force situation. They know that a decision to shoot somebody, that they had to make in LESS than one second, while under life or death stress,will be analized, dissected and parsed for weeks, months or even years afterward.

Some of the contributing factors to this incident that I picked up out of your update here make me think that I may have fired also if in the same situation as the three LVMPD officers, whereas before, reading other blogs, news stories, etc. I had serious doubts about whether I would have. I am now going to go back and read YOUR previous posts about this story, since I am impressed with your analysis and presentation on this post.

I have some thoughts about why it went down exctly as it did based on what you have outlined here. Why the officers reacted in the way they did and fired when they did. Also, why all three officers fired, why Erik was hit in the back and why the officers may have been totally unaware of their backstop when they opened fire. Tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, and time dilation are all real and I experienced them all in my shootings.

I also have an opinion as to what occurred post shooting with regard to handcuffing, the missed back-up gun, etc.

By the way, you mentioned that a commenter asked why officers are allowed to keep their guns after a questionable shooting. First let me say that ALL shootings by police officers are questionable until they have been investigated. It's not like on TV, where cops shoot somebody and go on about their merry way to shoot the next bad guy.

One of the things that has been found after many years of studying the dynamics involved with police shootings is that the old tactic of taking an officer's gun for evidentiary purposes in the aftermath of a shooting often led to severe psychological trauma to the officer. They often felt that they must be guilty of doing something wrong by being immediately disarmed at a moment when they were most vulnerable psychologically and emotionally, even though they knew that their gun needed to be placed into evidence.

An officer's gun still needs to be forensically tested, but most departments these days are aware of the studies about disarming offcers after a shooting. A lot of departments, my own included, now have a policy of a supervisor on scene providing his/her gun to the officer after the officer's gun is taken for evidence. it is also known now that officers should not be grilled about the incident in the immediate aftermath but given some time to regroup and recharge before detailed questioning because their recall will be much better.

Unfortunately, civilians involved in self-defense shootings are not afforded this. They have their gun taken for evidence, and are often put under immediate questioning. My advise to any of your civilian readers is if they go armed, have a lawyer you can call if the SHTF. Cooperate but don't talk immediately until you've had a chance to rest and gather your thoughts.

Posted by: Montie at October 3, 2010 07:41 PM

he was a dead man the moment 911 was called.

I read through all of that and I see no way that the cascading events were going to get him through it unharmed.

I can only hope all of the shooters and the store security live with nightmares the rest of thier lives.

Posted by: rumcrook at October 3, 2010 07:48 PM

Tom J,

Are you a police officer? have you ever been in a deadly force confrontation?

I have some thoughts on why the officers drew their guns, but I want to read Mike's previous posts before I comment further. I think that the actions of Costco management and security may have been the single biggest factor in why Erik was shot, because it put the officers in a situation which raised their anxiety levels and insured that they would be taken by suprise when they identified Erik as the person they were called about INSIDE their comfort zones.

I have been in many situations which involved several officers with drawn guns yelling conflicting orders to someone which did not result in anybody getting shot. It is unfortunate, but sometimes officers react to these situations by all trying to assume control at once, even if the department has policies which address this type of scenario.

Often in deadly force situations, when one officer perceives something which causes him to fire, other officers will fire also. This also happens in military settings. I'm not excusing it, just explaining it.

I also just do not buy your statement that the officers were seemingly looking for a reason to shoot. I know a lot of cops, and none of them approach their job in that type of mindset.

From what I have learned about Erik Scott in following this story, I believe that he was a hero and a true American, who fought on the side of right for this country and suffered injuries in the process. For him to survive combat and then be killed at home, BY THE POLICE no less, is just tragic. It shouldn't have happened, but I'm not sure the police were necessarily reckless or stupid...yet.

Posted by: Montie at October 3, 2010 08:09 PM

Just as a note to the disrobing question asked by the dispatcher. One of the signs of "excited delirium" is an elevated body temperature, and the person shedding clothing to compensate. Frequently this is connected with other violent behavior, and often (from what is currently understood) caused by drug use. IMHO it seems as if the dispatcher was relying on this knowledge & protocols & as you said, reading into the situation.

Posted by: Sean at October 3, 2010 08:47 PM

Every American should read "Dial 911 and Die" by Richard W. Stevens. It will make you take another look! They will learn that the police are under no obligation to protect you!!

Posted by: 1Fearless1 at October 3, 2010 08:52 PM


You are correct. I have had to deal with several naked or semi-naked individuals over the past several years who were either delirious, high or both. it is indeed often a sign that officers might be going into a situation with a person who is in a state of "excited delirium".


Unfortunately you are correct. Numerous court cases have established that the police in general have no obligation to protect any specific individual in any specific circumstance. We do try our best, but unfortunately, we usually get there in time to do the investigation after the fact. To use the tired old line once again, "when seconds count, the police are minutes away".

Calling 911 is no guarantee of anything. All cars may be tied up or the call-takers may all be tied up, or officers may not get good info and go into a situation thinking it is something that it is not.

Posted by: Montie at October 3, 2010 10:29 PM

Nice work.

IIRC, Scott's fiancee provided a sketch to the investigators as to where everyone was. You might contact Scott's father to see if he can provide it.

I'm still wondering what excuse the scene supervisor (a sergeant IIRC) is going to have as to why he was standing outside a locked door on the other side of the store after he asked Costco to evacuate everyone out the front. He might have just gone to lunch for all the supervision he provided.

FYI, I don't know about the Costco in question , but the Henderson NV Costco (off Sunset) has no signs prohibiting firearms as of Saturday (10/2).

Posted by: Kevin at October 4, 2010 01:24 AM

I have to correct something I said in my post to Tom J regarding Erik Scott's service record. I had gotten that information from one of my officers who is a current Army reservist (last deployed in 2007 to Iraq). He was the one who first brought this case to my attention, and I will now have to tell him that his "fallen hero" while a great guy by all accounts, was not a wounded special forces vet.

I have since learned that Erik was not injured in combat, but was taking painkillers for old football injuries and injuries sustained while a cadet at West Point. He was an armored officer while on active duty, and resigned his commission in either 1994 or '95 (the Army was on a draw down at the time, I resigned my commission in '92). In addition, he was not special forces (unless you count being a tank jockey special, and as an ex-infantryman I would take exception to that).

I have also learned that the Morphine levels in Erik's blood was about 5 times what is considered the lethal dose and that his Xanax level was above the therapeutic level. The Morphine level alone indicates a long term addiction which allowed his body to reach a resistance level that required such a large dosage.

I still respect Erik, as I do anyone who can get into West Point and do well there. However, his claiming to be a "green beret" when in fact he was no longer in the Army, and never served in special forces, reminds me of too many homeless alcoholics I have dealt with as a cop who claim the same thing, but often were never even in the military.

While long term addicts can often appear to function ok under such massive drug loads, it will usually have some effect on their cognitive abilities and physical responses in fast moving situations like occurred when he was confronted by the police.

I still think a "perfect storm" of small mistakes by several parties added together to end in this tragedy. Could the cops have done a better job? Of course. So could Costco's management and security, the dispatcher, and perhaps Erik himself.

Posted by: Montie at October 4, 2010 02:04 PM

Tom J:

The police received information Erik cause a disturbance or concern in the store, AND was seen with a firearm in the small of his back. At a minimum, it was the responsibility of the police to identify Erik and verify his firearm was legal. Clearly, Erik's response to the challenge by the police is what killed him. Any movement by Erik toward the area of the firearm on the body, would be contemptuousness at best and evidently, self-destructive at worst.

Regardless of which cop fired first (someone will always be first), why is it required for cop #1,#2 and #3 to fire in unison even if they agree on the same threat? Why would firing .25 seconds or .50 seconds later necessarily mean the 'I fired because everybody else fired' scenario? Did I not read MM's description of the police radio traffic as {"don't do that", then an immediate barrage of gunfire}?

You are correct, however, about not having drawn handguns when confronting an unknown 'man with a gun' report. They should of had rifles.

Posted by: Buck T at October 4, 2010 04:45 PM

There's a giant, glaring discrepancy. So far, all of the Costco employees have given specific testimony that Scott was drunk, stumbling, and slurred.

How does that jive with the contemporaneous statements that he's fidgety and agitated? How is someone who is allegedly so narcotized that he's presumed to have drawn a gun on uniformed officers for no reason is described, at the time, as "hyperactive"?

Posted by: Phelps at October 4, 2010 06:13 PM

I would like to exchange links with your site
Is this possible?

Posted by: bondarua at October 4, 2010 07:14 PM

Montie, who are your sources and what are your citations RE your claims about Erik Scott's history and biology?

Posted by: Acksiom at October 4, 2010 08:37 PM

"3:17 (D): “Um, he-s--he’s not removing clothing or anything?”

[This is an odd question. Absent a specific reason to believe that Scott was taking off his clothing, such as the crime being reported was indecent exposure or something similar, it’s difficult to imagine why the Dispatcher asks it.]"

People suffering from ED (excited delirium) often remove their clothing.

Posted by: Paul Schmehl at October 4, 2010 09:30 PM

"Within a second, likely less, Officers Start and Mendiola opened fire,"

I have listened to the 911 recording at least 40 times. The timing is as follows:

Mosher issues his first command "Put your hands where I see them".

Less than three seconds later, Mosher fires twice.

Less than two seconds later Stark fires. Another second later Mendiola fires four times.

Total elapsed time from the first command to seven rounds in Erik's body is just under six seconds.

Posted by: Paul Schmehl at October 4, 2010 09:33 PM

Buck T asks "Regardless of which cop fired first (someone will always be first), why is it required for cop #1,#2 and #3 to fire in unison even if they agree on the same threat? Why would firing .25 seconds or .50 seconds later necessarily mean the 'I fired because everybody else fired' scenario? Did I not read MM's description of the police radio traffic as {"don't do that", then an immediate barrage of gunfire}?"

Cop 2 (Stark) testified that he fired when he heard Mosher fire and he knew Mosher was in danger. That's not the same as firing when you perceive a deadly threat. His shot came about 2 seconds after Mosher's.

Cop 3 (Mendiola) fired because "he was still a threat". He shot four times, three seconds after Mosher fired, plenty of time to assess the situation and realize he was shooting a man who was down.

The shot sequences can be very clearly heard on the 911 tape; bang, bang two seconds, bang, one second, bang, bang, bang, bang.

Officer Stark testified that he fired once and then "assessed" and determined that Erik was no longer a threat.

Officer Mendiola testified that he fired because he heard the shots and determined the suspect was still a threat.

Posted by: Paul Schmehl at October 4, 2010 10:18 PM

Typical of the behavior coming out of police departments in this country. The police have proven yet again that they will not police themselves. Normally I would say "Fair trial, public execution" for the badge punks involved, but given the current of institutional corruption in police forces I fear it's going to take the assassin's bullet to balance the scales.

Posted by: NStahl at October 4, 2010 10:57 PM


See the story in the on-line edition of the "Las Vegas Sun" for a detailed news article from Sept. 22nd which presented not only the testimony of the M.E. but several of Erik's doctors regarding his drug use.

But then, in the minds of many, I'm finding that they seem to firmly know exactly what happened in an incident that they were not present for. There seems to be a predisposition to believe that the police, the medical examiner, and numerous others have conspired to cover up something perceived as frighteningly criminal actions from an out of control police department.

Seriously guys, I got interested in this because one of my officers was concerned about it and thought I would be too, because we share a disdain for rogue cops and are both big supporters of all law abiding citizens being able to carry guns with little or no restriction. He thought it might have been a bad shoot and so did I initially. The drugs in Erik's system (that is if you believe the M.E.) may have been a factor in what happened, as were the actions of Costco's employees, and the actions of the police dispatcher, the involved officers and the supervisors on scene. The fact that Mosher has been in a previous shooting could mean something, or it could mean nothing more than having the bad luck to be in two fatal shootings. I know of a local officer who had the bad luck to be in three in a relatively short period of time. He was not overly aggressive or quick on the trigger. All three were situations where he simply had no choice. He was a strong Christian and it tortured him to no end. His supervisor finally had the brass pull him off the street because he got too timid and it was affecting those he worked with. After a period of recuperation and therapy he came back with no more problems.

I can't speak for the integrity of the LVMPD. I know that they are not generally regarded in police circles as an agency with problems like some of you have accused them of, but I don't work or live there.

None of you know me, other than I have SAID that I am a police supervisor with 25 years on the job. I could be some teenager sitting in my mom's basement throwing out opinions. At the same time, I don't know any of you. You can choose to engage on an adult level or not. But, making up your mind about an incident as serious as this, without taking in all the facts doesn't do justice for any of the involved parties, including Erik. I would add that making accusations of some kind of massive police cover-up needs to be backed up by facts, which is what I am trying to get to.

You can choose to believe me or not, in the end it really doesn't matter, but having been in shootings both as a civilian and as a police officer, I can tell you that these things happen in the blink of an eye. You make life and death decisions not in seconds, but in hundredths of seconds and you may not always be right.

No cop wants to think that he shot (and killed) somebody who didn't need to be shot, but it happens every day in this country. Will some cops lie in the aftermath when they think they made a mistake? Of course, it's human nature. But show me proof that is the case here with facts, not just because you believe it to be so. Are there officers who act maliciously at times? Yes, human nature again, but show me proof that these cops deliberately conspired together to kill Erik Scott. To what purpose?

Much has been made of the lack of video records from Costco's camera system. I can't tell you the number of times I have been frustrated, when investigating crimes, by a lack of video from large chain stores that you would think would stay on top of that sort of thing (Walmart and Target come to mind most recently). Of course the immediate assumption is that it was deliberately destroyed as part of the massive cover-up. Maybe, but maybe it was in fact just down for repair at the time of the incident. I'll bet it's working now. Perhaps because it was all along or maybe Costco management realized how important it was after this incident and got it fixed.

I am not your enemy, and neither is the average police officer in this country. If these LVMPD officers were in the wrong, it will come out. But I'm keeping an open mind until I have more to go on and you should too.

I would add that in most police departments of any size these days the brass are just not going to stick their necks out to cover up bad shootings or anything else that could bring in the Feds. It's far easier to just hang the patrol officers out to dry and play hero, claiming to have cleaned up the department of "bad cops".

Posted by: Montie at October 5, 2010 03:56 AM


{knew Mosher was in danger.}
{"he was still a threat".}
{determined the suspect was still a threat.}

Sounds like the Officers truly believed Erik was a threat and that what's relevant on the scene, I would imagine. As for shooting Erik when he was "down", I believe the one buttock shot may have been fired when Erik was "down" or bent over. I sure Montie or MM will tell you it's common in live fire shoot houses, where 3D targets have the ability to fall when shot (either magnets or balloons), for police and military operators to track the target down while continuing to shoot. Much different that actually shooting someone that is "down".

Although, it is taught for some high end teams that are dealing with multiple opponents and have no immediate 'POW' facilities. Everybody that goes by puts a round in the head. This eliminates the possibility of a goal oriented opponent getting up and attacking from behind. I would hope this was NOT the application in Erik's case.

Posted by: Buck T at October 5, 2010 08:21 AM
One thing I will tell you, is that officers are confronted every day, all across this country with situations such as this one, which can go bad in a matter of milliseconds if only one of a myriad of different factors involved with human interaction under stress plays out in the wrong way.

Pure rhetoric and unresponsive to the situation here as well as its end result.

The dead man was a licensed CCW holder. This wasn't a "confrontation" except that the police, going all gung-ho, confronted a man and cost him his life.

On the streets of Reno a friend legally carrying a concealed pistol once felt a tug on his elbow. It was a LEO, partner in tow, hand on his weapon. (Nevada is both a CCW and open carry state, subject to precious few restrictions.) This alone was enough to instinctively cause the individual to momentarily consider if his licensed, registered, authorized, and properly concealed weapon was itself in immediate danger, and with it, himself.

Such confrontations run decidedly against the legal carrier, Montie. Your remark is rhetorical and is intended to constitute doubt and cover. The apparent fact you stand behind it speaks far more to the state of mind of most LEO's than it does the events described herein which killed an otherwise innocent man.

Be part of the problem or part of the solution. Given that LEOs -- armed public servants with the right to militarize, beat down doors, and shoot people to death -- are indeed under no obligation to actually, you know, protect and serve, then one is quite justified in assuming the LEO observes a code that serves primarily the LEO's interests.

This adds nothing to LEO credibility, and in fact, subtracts from it, bolstering the argument favoring the dead man.

Posted by: Ten at October 5, 2010 09:10 AM
The drugs in Erik's system...

The salient question is did Scott constitute a valid threat? To anyone at any time?

There is no evidence to say he did.

Then what was he? He was a permit holder, carrying legally.

Posted by: Ten at October 5, 2010 09:12 AM

The argument that these things tragically happen isn't an argument; it's a red herring that smooths over the core issue in favor of expressing a faux regret that allows everybody to shake their head, mutter something about human error, and get back to their day.

Given that the dead man was not shown to be a threat to anybody -- unless you consider bottled water or canteens or something beings being threatened -- calls into question the chain of command between a Costco employee, for crying out loud, and a squad of public servants that gunned a man down because, in very large part, he walked out of a retail establishment legally carrying his property, where he had to be identified for want of evidence.

That had better be one convincing chain of command. Of course, as the exhaustive record herein shows, it was not. It was, however, ruled by its own internal affairs checks and balances (such as they may be) as utterly justified. At which point we murmur something about such mysterious unavoidable-but-preventable tragedies and carry on.

The conclusion is that methods and procedures, rather than earning a meaningless 'tisk, tisk, wasn't that just the most tragic thing', are faulty.

They are faulty everywhere and they are reformable everywhere.

When I leave my home, there are two individual types I avoid at all costs: The road-rager and the cop. Given their resemblance out on the highways and byways, I consider them equal menaces to my utterly law abiding day. This is not how it should be, and speaking of which, the argument that most cops are good guys is equally specious.

Posted by: Ten at October 5, 2010 09:49 AM

That's not a cite, Montie, and we're not your secretaries, to be sent off to reproduce your research for you.

Cites Or It Didn't Happen, Montie. If you can't be bothered to take your adult responsibilities to back up your allegations properly, we can't be bothered to take them -- or you -- seriously.

Posted by: Acksiom at October 5, 2010 02:46 PM

Kudos, MikeM, for a sterling analysis.
Quibble: Please, please, please stop referring to the "9-11" call. It was a "9-1-1" call and confusion over the difference by civilians in the future can be just as tragic as was this case.

Excellent comments, Montie. Would like to read more from you after MikeM's next update.

I agree the unprofessional security person from Costco was a major contributor to this tragedy. But besides being a former LEO, I teach Neighborhood Watch citizen patrollers how to effectively call the cops, and IMHO based on the information provided up to now the 9-1-1 dispatcher played the major role in turning a simple call into certain death. MikeM has raised a few points, but the unprofessional responses of the dispatcher of record speaks to the existence of a major unprepared and untrained problem within the Las Vegas emergency communications center. An event this size should have had at least three dispatchers "working" it. There should have been pertinent radio traffic on at least three radio channels. There should be archived computer traffic to at least ten response vehicles.

For a "coroners inquest" to accept as best evidence the mangled recording cited leads to only two possible conclusions - the coroner is totally inept or the verdict supports an official cover-up. IMO it was the latter.

Posted by: 49erDweet at October 5, 2010 04:34 PM

I appreciate the educated analysis here on this blog. But the discussion of the "small" pillars as a shooting backdrop is misleading. There are huge pillars in front of this Costco, as a quick internet search for pics will reveal:

Posted by: Jeff at October 5, 2010 04:56 PM

Actually, that photo confirms MikeM's stated alternative -- those pillars, being irregular stone, are nothing resembling a backstop -- they are ricochet factories with no way to possibly predict the direction of the ricochet.

Posted by: Phelps at October 5, 2010 06:55 PM

Montie, since you claim to be a cop (and I'll take your word for that), I'll ask you for a simple yes or no answer. Given the following known facts:

1) The subject was not identified by the officers as he walked past them. He had to be pointed out to them by a Costco employee.
2) The subject was unaware of the police presence until he heard the first command.
3) The subject had to hear the commanda, turn to face the officer, recognize that he was the object of the commands and then respond to the commands.
4) The elapsed time from the first voiced command to the first shot fired was less than three seconds.
5) After the shooting, the subject's weapon was found still holstered and uncocked. (It is unclear whether it was still attached to his belt or not.)

Was less than three seconds enough time for the subject to reach for his weapon?

Yes or no?

Was less than three seconds enough time for the subject to draw his weapon, still in its holster?

Yes or no?

Was less than three seconds enough time for the officer to recognize that the subject was reaching for his weapon and fire?

Yes or no?

Was it safe to fire when a crowd of more than 75 people were in the immediate area and completely surrounding the subject in a semi-circle?

Yes or no?

Do you think it's fair that citizens who use deadly force must face a jury of their peers if there is any doubt in the DA's mind about the circumstances of the shooting?

Yes or no?

Do you think it's fair that police officers who use deadly force (at least in Las Vegas) can be cleared by a non-adversarial administrative process and never face a jury of their peers in a criminal trial even when there is reasonable doubt about the circumstances of the shooting?

Yes or no?

I'm just a citizen. I expect the police to protect and serve. In my opinion, this was a bad shoot, and Officer Mosher should be tried for manslaughter. Whether he would be convicted or not depends entirely upon the trial, but he ought to have to account for his actions in a venue where he is not surrounded ONLY by those who support him.

Posted by: Paul Schmehl at October 5, 2010 09:42 PM

--- Actually, that photo confirms MikeM's stated alternative -- those pillars, being irregular stone, are nothing resembling a backstop -- they are ricochet factories with no way to possibly predict the direction of the ricochet.---

Yes, obviously ricochets are almost always a hazard in the real world. But the claim has been made that the columns were at largest, "the size of a man". The fact is that they are very large, more like walls (that might, of course, ricochet). No one is claiming that shooting in that environment was safe, except the Police. But making assumptions on the positions of the officers doing the shooting based on an assumption of a man-width pillar would be invalid.

Posted by: Jeff at October 5, 2010 11:34 PM

MIKE M. and MONTIE. Thank you for your response and insight to my question about Officers keeping their weapons after a shoot. But my intent was why the double standard. If I, as a civilian shoot and kill someone in protection of my family or myself,I would lose the gun until it's decided if any charges are pending. Wouldn't killing someone make me an enemy of their friends,family,and or criminal aquiantances'? Doesn't this leave me volnurable to retaliation? I am just getting tired of so many double standards for LE. I for one, do not believe in "all cops are bad". I believe, when the double standards are called into check, the percieved,"us and them" will go away.

Anyway back to Scott. For the purpose of this post,my point of view is facing the front of the store with the entrance on the left and the exit on the right. With approximately 10 feet seperating the two, and the openings are 10 to 12 feet.

Mosher, was near the exit door wall between the entrance and exit doors, closer to the exit. Scott walked past this Officer twice! Once, to get a second cart because the first one was full, including the opened(destroyed)water bottle boxes and the cooler Shai the security guard said Scott was "bag stuffing".(shown in photo evidence)at the inquest.The same ones that Scott told the manager he intended to buy, after checking the fit in the cooler.The pillar in question had 14 or more people sitting on the built in bench seat that runs the entire way around the column, waiting to go back to shopping. Stark stated,"I was on the far side of the entrance door when he heard the yelling and raised his weapon up in Scott's direction while taking a few steps toward the parking lot and Scott, to form a tactical L with Mendiola on my left. Then immediatly heard the shot. People were hitting the ground all around me it, was a sea of body's lying there.I did not know who was shooting and assumed Scott had fired the shot,aimed center body mass then fired one round from 12 to 20 feet and re-evaluated and stopped firing,"he also stated he didn't see a gun until it was on the ground after the shooting. I believe Stark's Round to be the arm pit shot. Which, if this is the case, he was showing Mosher the weapon by reaching to his right side to lift his shirt up before removing the holstered weapon, like he was ordered to do. Several witnesses confirmed this motion. In fact, the witness directly on Mosher's left shoulder said,"He could see the holstered gun was coming up in a handing gesture with Scott holding the gun by top of it",(motioning to the frame near the hammer area)it never pointed at the officer"," I'll never forget it because I got tunnel vision on his hand with the gun". Mendiola stated," I was standing in a position of concealment against the wall by the entrance door, on the exit side. I heard the commands, but only understood the last get down as I was wheeling around and heard the shot,but didn't know who was shooting. As I was raising my weapon I saw a gun in Scott's hand,and fired my weapon 4 to 5 times".Both of these Officers had 30 to 40 people directly in the line of fire so I do not see how they could have seen anything especially if Scott was twisting to his right,away from their point of view. Mosher also testified,"I fired 2 rounds and Scott staggerd back and fell backward twisting to his right while the gun dropped from his hand. Also, another Officer was approaching from the entrance side with a shotgun on the parking lot side of the column between the the two doors,with it's seat filled to capacity. He said,"I had to wade shoulder to shoulder thru the people". Just 8 feet to the left and slightly to rear of Scott,he also said" I never heard any of the commands over the noise of crowd and never saw the suspect". In the video they did have of the parking lot camera, there were at least a dozen people directly behind Scott walking to their cars. Mosher stated there was no one in his backdrop. But the video shows absolutely different. His thigh shot which went thru was never recovered. The detective on the stand said,the shot to the thigh had occured as Mosher's weapon was tracking up toward the suspect(his testimony). Was this possibly an accidental discharge that went completely out of control??? This was a bad shoot on so many levels. Mosher should be charged with endagering the public, without hesitation. It is complete miracle bystanders were not shot. I do not believe for one instant that Scott was drawing on the Officer,and only wanted to hand the gun to the Officer to stop this crazy incedent, and it cost him his life. Yes, he had large amounts of morphine type drugs in his system. He had a broken back from a paratrooper accident,that was aggravated in a car accident a few weeks before. He had been on these medications for years,and more than likely had strong tolerance for them. The ME stated they were lethal levels, but also said 50 milligrams can be letthal to the some of the population. Other doctors also testified that there is no guide to how much is lethal or normal,they go by what it takes to manage the pain. My mom has rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. She takes 4 muscle relaxers, 2 tramadol, and 2 10mg hyrocodone 4 times a day,and functions completely normal, and still has pain. But that is neither here nor there. His under the influence behavior,$40 package destruction and bag stuffing(shoplifting) were ALLEGED, there was no tresspassing because they never asked him to leave(stated in testimony). No one ever saw him touch the weapon other than pull his pants up. I truly think Shai Lierly approched Scott about the gun after the manager mentioned something to him about the firearm, and a frustrated Scott told him I'm allowed to carry and he should read the F#*@ing constitution(stated in testimony). Shai being butt hurt made the," I'll show you who's boss", 9-1-1 call, and embelished the facts to the dispatcher to get them to come faster. Little did he know a man was going to be killed because of his damaged ego. The only jurors who were asking the difficult questions were the one's RANDOMLY dismissed from the deliberations. The jury instructions were a joke. In a nutshell they said,if you think Mosher and his Officers went to costco to committ murder then it's criminal, otherwise it is justified. A large number of the city's popultion is very upset with the inquest and LVMPD. All Metro can seem to say is," what's wrong with you people, these men are hero's who killed a crazed,drug addicted man who was actually committing felony's"(only discovered after he was dead, carrying while on pain meds).Still not anything close to CAPITOL crime.

Posted by: Jvh at October 6, 2010 05:33 AM
Was less than three seconds enough time for the officer to recognize that the subject was reaching for his weapon and fire?

Given that it must take some 3 seconds for the LEO to unholster his weapon, raise it, find his target, and fire, one wonders just how said LEO divined that the victim was about to do the same thing.

In other words, in a battle of draw times with a drug-fueled menace to all Las Vegas society, how was it that the LEO got all these shots into the guy while he never cleared one?

The answer lies in this:

he was showing Mosher the weapon by reaching to his right side to lift his shirt up before removing the holstered weapon, like he was ordered to do. Several witnesses confirmed this motion. In fact, the witness directly on Mosher's left shoulder said,"He could see the holstered gun was coming up in a handing gesture with Scott holding the gun by top of it",(motioning to the frame near the hammer area)it never pointed at the officer"," I'll never forget it because I got tunnel vision on his hand with the gun".

In other words, we're not getting the entire story here. We never do.

Posted by: Ten at October 6, 2010 09:02 AM

Maybe cops shouldn't have guns - they can't keep 'em in their pants.

Las Vegas citizens - move now. The lawsuit settlement will raise your property taxes, and the publicity will dry up your revenues.

I sure don't want to be near jerks with guns, and I sure don't want them wearing badges.

Posted by: Bill Johnson at October 6, 2010 11:07 AM

All Officers on the scene had weapons drawn at low ready, before they approached the costco doors.Each officer testified to this.

Posted by: Jvh at October 6, 2010 03:15 PM

Sorry everyone I originally posted as JohnH on earlier Scott updates. Just wanted to clarify. Thanks again to Mike M for a place to intelligently debate the shooting. It's amazing how many blind haters are writing on this subject on both sides.

Posted by: Jvh at October 6, 2010 06:16 PM

Thank you Mike and Montie and everyone else for your analyses. Sorry for the anti-police comments that some have. It's very understandable why some have resentment, but let's not condemn the innocent with the guilty. If God blesses us, and we are able to save the Republic, we are going to need everyone's help. We are in desperate need of God-fearing and honest judges, lawyers, and law enforcement officers. Here in Tennessee, the law enforcement officers have been great allies in fighting gun control and improving the handgun carry permit system. Hundreds have spoken out in public in favor of 2nd Amendment rights for Tennesseans. Yes, bad officers need to be addressed, but let's not throw out the baby with the bath water. Let's support the good officers like Mike and Montie. To quote Ben Franklin, "We must hang together or we will all hang separately." May God bless all of you for your concern over this terrible tragedy.

Posted by: ConcernedCitizen at October 7, 2010 12:05 AM


Thank you.

Over the course of my career in law enforcement, I have been called every vile name in the book (and some not even in the book!), as well as having my life and the lives of my family members threatened. It has never meant one thing to me since I always just considered the source and let it roll off my back. However, when I hear these types of things from the CCW/Open Carry community, whom I have always considered to be "my people", it hurts a little bit.

I've been an NRA life member since I was 16 years old. I went to Washington D.C. in 1987 with over a hundred like-minded cops from all over the nation to testify AGAINST the first attempt at an "assault weapons ban", and from that event was a founding life member of the Law Enforcement Alliance of America (now part of the NRA), which was formed as a coalition of cops and citizens to protect individual gun rights. I worked to put pressure on the Oklahoma State Legislature to get a "Shall Issue" concealed carry law passed (even though I could carry concealed as a cop), because I thought it was right, and more recently worked on getting the legislature to pass an open carry law (which unfortunately was vetoed by our worthless Democrat governor).

I have never felt that there was a culture of "us vs. them" regarding cops and citizens with concealed carry permits. I more thought of it as "cops and the good guys vs. the bad guys". Until now. Some of the comments here have really given me pause. I hope it's just a case of raw emotion over the thought of a good man losing his life in a situation which should not have happened and not a sign of a deeper rift.

I do however, agree with your sentiments regarding this wonderful republic our forefathers blessed us with and the danger we all face in losing it all if those who seek to fundamentally change it have their way. If that should happen, then I will be right there with you in fearing and reviling the police, because their role will fundamentally change in this country and I will no longer be able to do the job in good conscience.

Posted by: Montie at October 7, 2010 01:15 AM

Paul Schmehl,

I'll try to answer in the order you asked and as yes or no with no explanation of that yes or no, as you requested (gee, just like court).







Paul, there are a lot of caveats that go with those yes and no answers if you are interested.

Posted by: Montie at October 7, 2010 01:32 AM


I sympathize with your reasoning about being disarmed and vulnerable were you to shoot somebody in self defense. It is precisely that vulnerability (real or imagined) that has prompted changes in many department's procedures after an officer involved shooting. It is not really a double standard and here's why. If an officer shoots somebody and the department is up to speed on policies, his/her gun WILL be taken for evidence, just as yours would, but a supervisor will hand over his/her own gun to the officer at that time (unless it's some OBVIOUS AT THE MOMENT depraved illegal shooting) to avoid that psychological trauma.

The police are not going to re-arm you because you are not issued a department gun. They have no gun to give you. Since I do not carry my department gun off-duty, were I to have an off-duty shooting with my own gun, my gun would not be replaced at that time either (a department SIG wouldn't fit my 1911 holster anyway). But, you bet your ass when I got home I would re-arm, as you would be entitled to do also.

Posted by: Montie at October 7, 2010 01:50 AM


Thanks for your response. I agree with you about attacks you sustained here, were un-warranted. You have said nothing inflamitory or bias. I think you are a intelligent,level headed LEO,and a credit to your force. I know there are men and women like you and Mike M. on our police force here in Vegas, but sadly precious few. 99% of friends and people I have talked with, on the subject of Metro have come away with a bad taste in there mouth. None of them felons or have criminal history. I know LEO's aren't responsible for the laws they enforce, but their attitude is. Metro comes of as cocky,overbearing,and suspicious even at a simple traffic stop. Is it normal where you work, to handcuff, and search an individual for the officers safety after asking to search your car, during a traffic infraction? I know of at least three incedents like this. By "us and them",and a double standard. I mean Leo's are always given the benifit of the doubt. I as a citizen, if accused of somthing, have to go to court, hire an attorney, post bail even for a citation, and the prepoderence of evidence is up to me. Where as LEO's accused of something are immediatly issued an attorney, post no bail, don't have to go to court until after lenghty legal rangling, and the prepondernce of evidence is still up to the accuser. Not to mention the PPA's announcing the whole time how un-warranted the accusations are. Fair is fair, if Law enforcement just stood up and said,"We made a mistake or this Officer is under investigation because it warrants a further look". Not just in this case but everytime. Instead, Law Enforcement gives the image of trying to sweep incedents under the rug. There has been comments made about how police are being "militerized", not so, military rules of engagement in combat require being fired upon first,unless involved in an offensive attack. This is in no way a condemnation of LEO's,it is the way they have presented themselves after the fact. I know I am not the only one who feels this way. It is not a comfortable feeling when you don't feel safe around your own police that we foot the bill for.

Posted by: Jvh at October 7, 2010 11:04 AM

Costco has a long history of anti gun / anti carry policies. I pin this on them more than the officers involved. It does look as if the officers / dispatcher lack basic competence I would expect in even the lowest level line employee (let alone armed police) but I place the larger blame on Costco.

Someone help me out – I'm still missing something. What crime did Erik Scott commit to warrant any of this? He refused to leave the store - but was shot outside? He stole something - but had no stolen items? Perhaps he damaged some merchandise (I'm not clear on this)? He was acting odd and a bit hyper – heaven forbid? Did he threaten anyone? Did he brandish the weapon or act in a menacing manner? I can't find the initial crime. I suspect it will be argued that he was asked to leave (trespass) but I find that hard to believe, as he was, in fact, leaving the store without incident at the time he was shot. The 9-1-1 transcript indicates that he was told he could not have a gun in the store (but there is no evidence he was asked to leave). What in the world made it necessary to escalate this to a guns drawn officer encounter?

I carry every time my wife forces me to go to Costco – knowing full well I might be asked to leave at any time. They are rabid anti gun / anti second amendment loons. Whenever possible I try to shop at Sam’s Club or some other big box store instead. This shooting came about because of many poor decisions – but it was Costco’s institutional policy against guns (lawful or otherwise) that set it in motion.

My advice - Don’t give them your money.

Posted by: argenbright at October 7, 2010 01:32 PM

Montie,if you're the same fellow who comments at Tam's place regularly, I've got a question for you.
Given that:

OKlahoma is #1 for reported police misconduct, per capita, nation wide.


Tulsa is #1 in OKlahoma for reported police misconduct, per capita.


The Montie I know works for TPD....

why should anyone trust you?

This is not a personal stab, it's a serious question. You claim to be a LEO, and that we should trust you, because you are a LEO. Only problem is, you work for the most broken PD outside of N'awlins in the entire USA.

not exactly the sort of thing to inspire confidence...

Posted by: Ogre at October 8, 2010 01:49 AM

Yes Ogre, it is the same Montie.

TPD IS broken, and is in the process of cleaning house. Tulsa is in the midst of a scandal that involves not only local, but Federal (ATF naturally, and Secret Service) officers who have been accused of lying on affidavits for search warrants, fabricating confidential informants, stealing money from drug dealers (and possibly stealing drugs too). It may spread even farther than the dozen or so who are now caught up.

This is a black eye for the department. Some of the officers involved, I have known for years. One retired sergeant who always impressed me as a very straight-laced, by-the-book type of guy is in up to his neck and I think has plead guilty.

One of the involved officers, also recently retired, was always a cut-up and funny to be around, he too has plead guilty and was actually filmed by the FBI in a sting operation TAKING MONEY.

Originally this started with some SID guys. Officers that kind of had a rep of: "stay away from that guy, there's something about his cases"...Yet it has caught up guys I thought were on the up and up.

I used to be the liason for a smaller suburban department to the Tulsa Secret Service Office, and am still close to the office manager and RAC there. I was stunned when I learned that one of their agents was resigning and going to plead out and a candidate for hire by the Secret Service (coming from TPD) was withdrawing and turning State's evidence.

I never saw any of the stuff that has caught up those officers. Then again, if you have a reputation that you will not tolerate police misconduct, they won't take a chance of doing anything like that in front of you. I'm not claiming "Serpico" status, but I HAVE worked internal affairs, and developed cases that have gotten officers fired. Some officers think I should be ashamed of that, but I am not.

I for one am glad to see this happen. I have NO TOLERANCE for officers who fudge the truth, are badge heavy, have a problem with excessive force complaints or who feel that the end justifies the means. I think that once this process comes to its final conclusion, that TPD will be a much better department for it.

I once worked for a suburban department (the one I mentioned above) that had a bad reputation before I got there. After firing the chief and the top brass, the city hired a chief from outside the department (he came from Wichita, KS) and he was heavily recruiting officers who had good reputations in the metro area because of problems that permeated the department. After a lot of coaxing to go there, what I found was a department where half of the officers were what I like to call "criminals with badges".
We had to work nearly as hard within the department as without.

This can happen anywhere. When I was in college, the LAPD had the reputaton as the premier law enforcement agency in the country. Highly rated for integrity, efficiency, and state of the art police procedure. After the Rampart Division scandal broke it affected the nation's opinion of the whole department.

One of the things I have never understood about TPD is that they do not do pre-employment polygraphs. Every other department in the metro area (including ones I have worked at) does so. Now, a polygraph is not a fail-safe, but I have seen them weed out potential problems who made it through extensive background checks, and psych evals.

I cannot speak to your claim of Oklahoma's ranking in reported police misconduct. I have never researched it, but it is possible. It is also possible that the statewide ranking is driven mostly by TPD. I hope not. I think it is important to maintain integrity in an organization that is accorded BY THE PEOPLE, with the power to take away freedom and even life from the individuals we come in contact with.

Remember the line from "Spiderman": "With great power comes great responsibility". I try to instill that in the officers that I supervise. Some officers complain about being held to a "higher standard" when we are people just like those we police. But, if you try to live up to that higher standard then you have no worries like those guys who now have to go to jail with the very people they helped put there. You can testify in court and never worry about your testimony being impeached. You can make an arrest in which you are put in the position of using force to effect, without fear of it coming back on you because your rep is that you never use more than necessary. You can be involved in a shooting knowing that you had no choice and that the department and the public will see it that way too.

TPD had (and probably still has) some bad cops, but has a lot of really good cops too. I'm sure that LVMPD has its share of both, and maybe the cops in Erik's shooting were the former. Or maybe just one of them was too quick on the trigger and the others fired out of a "contagious fire" impulse.

I don't necessarily claim that you should trust me. The internet is rife with trolls and posuers, and unless you have met someone face to face, you never really know WHO you are communicating with.
This has actually been an emotionally trying story to comment on. I feel for Erik and his family, in the senseless death of a, from all I have learned, good man. Yet, I also understand how things can go down in a situation like this from the officers' perspectives and how they may have been put in a position of feeling they had to shoot when they did.

As I stated in a previous comment, I got interested in it because one of my officers who knows me to be a big proponent of civilian CCW and even open carry (as he himself is), first brought the case to my attention, and I read a little here and there about it. I originally linked to MikeM's post from VFTP and got more interested. Interested enough to want to find out all I could about it. I began commenting, like most people do, because I had a point of view I wanted to interject into the discussion.

You and all the other readers here are free to agree, disagree or reject entirely what I have had to say, just as I am with all the other commenters. Although, I do feel a certain "regular VFTP reader and commenter" kinship with YOU, Ogre ;-)

Posted by: Montie at October 8, 2010 11:44 PM


Want to relocate? LVMPD could sure use a shot in the arm of what you got in your heart. Thanks again for your LEO point of view. I would like to hear more from you later as things develop in the months to come.

Posted by: Jvh at October 9, 2010 01:25 AM


Oddly enough, I was in Las Vegas in late '96 (I say late, because they had already switched from khaki short sleeve to brown long sleeve shirts, so maybe Oct. or Nov.). I had occasion to talk with a couple of LVMPD officers who were working a part-time job. I don't remember where, but maybe one of the casinos. I didn't care so much for the city proper as I did the high desert environment the city is located in.

At any rate I talked seriously with them about applying to LVMPD and relocating there if I was able to get hired. They told me that the department was actively recruiting at that time and gave me the name of someone to contact, but some things changed in my personal life, and I decided not to pursue it, but to stay in OK.

Posted by: Montie at October 9, 2010 05:16 PM