October 23, 2010

The Erik Scott Case, Update 7: Competence vs. Coverup

Update 6 (The Confederate Yankee Erik Scott archive with all previous articles and updates can be found here) revealed the irregular, arguably illegal behavior of the Clark County Public Administrator’s Office and the Metro Police in searching Erik Scott’s home and taking property from it after he had been shot and killed by Metro officers. That, as well as the most complete theory of what actually happened posited to date, will be revisited and explained shortly. It will be worthwhile to visit Bill Scott’s most recent post on the Erik Scott Memorial site. That post may be found here.

But first, it may be useful to understand what should happen following an officer involved shooting. It’s not like TV where independent crime investigation units staffed by young, attractive, brilliant technician/cops are housed in state of the art, gleaming glass and steel facilities with only the best and most recent equipment, and where their stunning, microscopic discoveries lead to dramatic confessions during confrontations with suspects.


There is no situation requiring more adherence to procedure and more attention to detail than the investigation of an officer involved shooting. Television is correct in a few details. Detectives and crime scene investigators tend to be people who are very good at paying attention to the smallest detail. They tend to be meticulous, patient people, people who take their time to be sure that nothing is rushed or overlooked, people who are unable to leave anything unexplained. Police officers tend to be action oriented. They like to deal with situations quickly and correctly, tie them up into a neat package and move on to the next problem. Detectives and crime scene investigators exist, in part, to temper that tendency and to slow things down when necessary.

Generally, the moment an officer involved shooting has occurred, after the officers present have called in the shooting, called for medical help, rendered medical assistance to anyone injured, thoroughly searched and disarmed anyone who poses a potential danger, they must be immediately relieved of any further duties by a first line supervisor (usually a shift sergeant) or higher ranking officer (such as a lieutenant or captain). This is absolutely vital to prevent even the appearance of impropriety and to ensure that the investigation is conducted without the contamination of self-interest. Under no circumstance can an officer involved in a shooting, in even the most minor way, be allowed to participate in the aftermath of and/or the investigation of that shooting. Should this vital step not be taken, it is often an indicator of corruption.

The next step is for officers directed by that supervisor (and perhaps the supervisor himself) to protect and preserve the crime scene and to obtain medical treatment for anyone who needs it while simultaneously ensuring the minimum contamination of the scene. This means that he tells arriving officers and medical personnel where they can and can’t stand or walk and what they can and can’t touch. Simultaneously, he must use uninvolved officers to establish a secure perimeter around the scene to ensure no inadvertent or intentional contamination.

The supervisor--and other higher ranking officers--must never lose sight of the possibility that the officer or officers involved have made a mistake, a mistake that could constitute a crime. However, by paying strict attention to procedures and the law, he will ensure that due process is rendered to all, all evidence will be preserved and that the evidence will tell the story. The bodies of anyone shot are also evidence, particularly if they die, and officers must accompany them to medical and/or coroner facilities to take any additional potential evidence into custody including such things as bullets removed from their bodies as well as to ensure that the evidence--the bodies--are properly handled and securely stored.

The supervisor must also immediately locate and identify any potential witnesses, and to the greatest degree possible, segregate them to prevent contamination of their statements. He must also locate and identify any other forms of evidence such as video or audio tapes (including from all possible police sources) and immediately secure them, maintaining an unbroken chain of evidence. When this is not done, or when there is any possibility of tampering, it is often an indicator of corruption. Only when the detectives responsible for the case arrive will he relinquish command of the scene, turning it over to them, but first, he’ll brief them on everything known and all that he has done.

As soon as possible, the firearms and spare magazines of all involved officers must be taken into evidence and replacement firearms and magazines given to the officers. This is true even if an officer did not fire a shot. Police officers are issued approved ammunition and given only enough to fill their magazines and weapons. Replacing ammunition from other sources is commonly grounds for severe discipline. Most officers carry two spare magazines. If their magazines have a capacity of 15 rounds, an officer will be issued 46 rounds of ammunition: 15 per magazine and one for the chamber of his weapon. Whenever an officer fires their weapon, every bullet and every expended brass casing must be precisely documented and accounted for, and this includes rounds remaining in an officer’s weapon and magazines. If, for example, three casings are found but five rounds are missing from the officer’s weapon, there is much to be explained and investigated. It is assumed that every officer present fired until it can be proved otherwise. When all of this is not done, it is often an indicator of corruption.

If a related person, vehicle or residence must be searched, most agencies will obtain warrants rather than relying on exceptions to the warrant requirement, verbal consent or signed permission forms. This takes time, but is commonly done to avoid arguments over the admissibility of evidence and to avoid the problem of people who initially gave permission later claiming that they were coerced or were so in shock that the police took advantage of them and they didn’t realize what they were doing. In professional agencies, this is written into procedure. A properly written and obtained warrant essentially eliminates such problems or makes the actions of the police more easily defensible. When this is not done, it is often an indicator of corruption.

When crime scene technicians arrive, they are briefed by the detectives and meticulously identify and record each and every item that could possibly be of value as evidence. Not only are items precisely measured and diagrammed in relation to fixed objects that will be unlikely to be moved (or if they are moved, their positions can be reestablished), they are photographed from many angles before they are touched or moved, and when they are touched, they are immediately placed in a proper container and immediately entered into evidence. The person actually touching an item normally fills out a standard evidence form that particularly describes the item, the time it was collected and the place, as well as any number or other identifier assigned by technicians which includes the related case number (all police activities that require a report or the handling of any kind of property are assigned a unique, sequential case number with the current year being the usual prefix number). Similar documents are attached to each container. Each and every person who actually handles any piece of evidence, in or out of its container, must be recorded on the appropriate evidence custody forms which include the date and time, and the amount of time they had the item. Any breaks in this chain of evidence can render the evidence inadmissible in court and jeopardize the case. Samples of all liquids, blood, sperm, saliva, etc. are also taken after they are first recorded. If something absolutely must be moved for purposes of safety, or in the case of someone being rushed to a hospital, medical treatment, their exact position is marked--the infamous chalk outline--and/or photographed before they are moved. When all of this is not done, it is often an indicator of corruption.

Entire scenes are commonly guarded and preserved for days until detectives are absolutely sure, through examination of witnesses and other evidence, that nothing has been overlooked or inadvertently left undiscovered. Every technician handling evidence from such crime scenes is likewise meticulous, including medical examiners. In police involved shootings, determining and recording entry and exit wounds, bullet tracks, gunpowder residue (which indicate the distance of objects from the muzzle of a weapon when it was fired), and other related issues is vitally important. Likewise, precise identification of the weapon that fired each recovered bullet is mandatory. The police must be able to tell exactly who fired each bullet, where the ejected casing came to rest, exactly where they stood in relation to targets engaged, exactly what each bullet hit and where it came to rest. All of this must be reproduced in digital recreations. When all of this is not done, it is often an indicator of corruption.

It is here that the title of this update, Competence vs. Coverup, comes into play. Police work is a profession where each individual’s ability and performance are evaluated continually through each working day, not only by supervisors, but by each officer’s peers. Because lives are at stake, every competent, honest officer is careful to cultivate a reputation for competence and integrity. Anything less is not only dangerous, but likely to get them fired. In honest agencies, an officer’s greatest asset is his reputation for integrity. If his word is suspect, he’s essentially useless. Likewise, police agencies go to great lengths to avoid even the appearance of organizational incompetence. The potential consequences, in civil and criminal sanctions, of doing otherwise are real and great. When all of the procedures outlined here, and more, and not done properly, are done poorly or are omitted, it is so either because of incompetence, corruption or a mixture of the two.

This is why the Erik Scott case is so unusual. In many ways, virtually every public agency involved has taken unusual, difficult to understand and explain actions and apparently made fundamental, foolish, careless, inexplicable mistakes, mistakes that call into question their basic competence. Normally, the police and related agencies would regard this state of affairs with justified horror. Normally. The only exception commonly occurs when the potential consequences of appearing and/or being incompetent pale in comparison to the alternative. Only then will police officers and agencies commit and accept gross incompetence rather than admit the truth. Such behavior is always a potential indicator of a coverup. A coverup is always a potential indicator of criminal conspiracy on the part of the police and related authorities.


Early in the investigation of any incident, detectives develop a theory of the case. They try to understand exactly how and why it happened as a means of gaining a better picture of who did it and why. In a police involved shooting, identities and motives usually aren’t in question, but they still need to develop a working theory, a theory that they must continually alter and update as new evidence becomes available. If the police stick to a theory that is not supported by the evidence, this too is a potentially strong indicator of incompetence or of a coverup.

Please keep in mind, gentle reader, that I am supportive of the police because I understand through hard won experience exactly how difficult, dangerous and absolutely vital is the job. I reflexively give the police the benefit of the doubt as long as they are acting within the boundaries of the reasonable exercise of their professional authority and discretion. I differ from most citizens in that I know what those boundaries are and what the reasonable exercise of professional discretion is. I also know how and why things go wrong, how agencies become corrupt, gradually, little by little over time, and why that kind of corruption is deadly dangerous, not only for police officers, but for communities and society.

It is therefore difficult to write this current theory of the case, a theory that, like all such theories, may be incorrect in ways small or great. It’s a theory that is certainly liable to change when more and more accurate information becomes available. I do not present it as absolute truth, but as a reasonable, working theory that fits the facts as they are currently known. Also keep in mind that many of the actions and thought processes I ascribe to those involved can and do occur more or less simultaneously, in chaotic fashion, and within scant seconds or minutes of a shooting, therefore it is difficult to determine with certainty if thought A preceded or followed thought B which might or might not have precipitated action C, etc. It’s often difficult or impossible even for those who lived it. Read on; decide for yourself.


Within mere seconds--as few as two--of recognizing Erik Scott as the man they were seeking, Officers Mosher, Stark and Mendiola began firing seven bullets into him, bullets that would mortally wound him. As the smoke cleared, the officers, still in a state of shock, their pulses pounding, their minds racing, began, as all officers do in such situations, to second guess themselves, to try to confirm that what they believed happened actually did happen as they perceived it. They had good reason to second guess themselves. Perhaps Off. Mosher thought he saw something in Scott’s hand, or more likely, the moment Scott’s arms began to move in response to frenzied, shouted conflicting commands, commands coming from three officers and two directions, he fired. He fired too soon with too little input. Officers Stark and Mendiola fired reflexively. Even if a shooting is absolutely, without question justified, shooting a man in the back, particularly if he is already face down on the ground, is a moral, public relations disaster. This would occur to them and the possible consequences, like every other image chaotically flashing through their minds, would be horrifying.

THE AFTERMATH (Circa 20 Seconds After Meeting Scott):

No doubt the three officers began to quickly ask each other what happened. Stark and Mendiola, if they had any common sense, quickly realized that Mosher’s shooting of Scott was iffy at best. It would be impossible to describe their state of mind to anyone who has not experienced a similar situation. “Horror stricken” is inadequate, but as good a description as any. As they became aware of the many bystanders who were beginning to pick themselves up off the ground or coming out from behind whatever cover they could find as the Police opened up--as they opened up--their anxiety would only have increased at the realization of how many citizens were in their direct line of fire. Only the happy discovery that they apparently, somehow miraculously avoided shooting any of them would have given even temporary relief, yet the nagging realization that they hadn’t even thought of a proper backstop before firing would weigh heavily on them as shock after shock, terrible possibility after terrible possibility flashed through their racing minds.

Despite the presence of higher ranking officers--a partial radio transcript suggests that a watch commander was there (normally at least a lieutenant or captain), and there would certainly be a variety of first line supervisors present, Mosher began issuing orders and took command of the scene. At the Inquest he testified that he did so because he was the senior officer at the scene. It is currently unknown how long this foolish state of affairs was allowed to continue, but the officers would have certainly begun to look for evidence and Off. Mosher almost immediately handcuffed Scott and would testify that as he handcuffed him, he believed him to be dead. However, Off. Mosher was still so in shock that he didn’t think to search him, and none of them thought to check his medical condition, not even bothering to try to find a pulse. Adrenaline will do that to you.


Mosher almost certainly began to frantically look for a gun on the ground, but found only, to his horror, a cell phone. He found only Scott’s cell phone because that was all that was there immediately after the shooting. There was no gun on the ground. For Off. Mosher, and Officers Stark and Mendiola, the realization that they shot a man who posed no imminent threat, who was brandishing only a cell phone, must have been the mother of all sinking feelings.

The ambulance was already in the area, staging (standing off, waiting for the officers to call--common when there is potential danger)---their records seem to indicate (time frames between agencies and information sources are still anything but synchronized) that they arrived at about the time the first shots were fired--and was able to pick up Scott and quickly leave. By the time the Officer’s frantic search was concluded and they were certain no gun was present, it was too late for an immediate solution to their nightmare. Scott, and his gun--if he actually had one; they had no way to be sure--were already on the way to the hospital. There could be no possible explanation for stopping or calling it back, even for a police department that recognized few, if any, restraints. By now, they had certainly consciously realized that they had not searched Scott, a necessity that is drummed into every officer at the most basic levels of training. This too would only contribute to their continuing shock and confusion.

Imagine fireman/medic Chris Thorpe’s surprise when he discovered Scott’s handgun, still holstered, and a spare magazine, as the ambulance, siren wailing and lights flashing, sped to the hospital. Thorpe’s written report would later strangely record words more or less identical to this: “weapon found to right pocket,” and “found clip to left pocket.” Thorpe turned these items over to the police officer--identity unknown--accompanying him in the ambulance.

Back at the scene of the shooting, detectives still had not arrived and would not arrive for about 45 minutes after the last shot was fired, but higher ranking officers were on the scene. Recognizing the suspicious nature of the shooting as any competent police supervisor or manager surely would, decisions had to be made and quickly. Conduct an honest investigation, even if the officers involved would likely suffer, or enter into a criminal conspiracy and coverup? Immediately relieve and suspend Mosher and the others and conduct a professional investigation or work with them to cover up mistakes?

It took no time at all to make the decision, even though plenty of time was available. Scott’s Kimber .45 which had been discovered on his body in the ambulance, would be quickly returned to the scene and stealthily positioned. It had to be that particular gun and holster; no other would do. Too many Costco employees had already seen it and might be able to identify it, and there may have been even more about whom the police did not yet know. Worse, some witnesses might be able to say that another gun was not the gun they saw Scott carrying. There was just no way to be certain.

But what about the fireman? He couldn’t be trusted to “forget” that he found a gun--the ambulance driver probably knew about it too--it was going to turn up, if not in the fireman’s official run report, certainly in around-the-ambulance-barn and around-the-emergency-room gossip, but he could probably be “convinced” to be imprecise in describing it and the situation. Salvation came with the discovery in Scott’s wallet of seven blue cards (firearm registration cards for concealed carry, required for each gun a licensee intends to possibly carry in Nevada), including a blue card for a Ruger .380 pistol. Second problem solved. This would become the non-specific, unspecified “weapon” and magazine the fireman “found” “to” Scott’s unspecified pockets.

Why this particular weapon when the Police had seven, possibly more, from which to choose? Because Scott was already carrying what would be considered a primary defensive handgun requiring a holster, he would certainly not carry another weapon of similar size--virtually no one would--particularly since his only means of concealment was a shirt. Remember that the Police understand what it means to carry concealed weapons in a hot climate. The weapon would have to fit easily into a normally sized pants pocket. In addition, a smaller gun might be more plausibly overlooked, making the Police look at least somewhat less incompetent. The Ruger fit these requirements


Panic again set in; where was the Ruger? The police quickly obtained a written permission to search Samantha Sterner’s car--the car in which she and Scott drove to the Costco, a car and its contents completely unrelated to events--but apparently seized nothing. They did not find the Ruger; it was not in the car. That would have made things so much neater and easier. One possibility remained: Scott’s home. The Ruger had to be at Scott’s home; if it wasn’t, everything could fall apart.

But there was a serious problem: The Police knew that Scott’s home had nothing to do with the events at the Costco and that they had no legitimate reason or authority to search it. No judge in his right mind would issue a search warrant for a fishing expedition. The only alternative would be to commit blatant perjury on a signed affidavit in order to trick a judge into authorizing a warrant. This would leave far too many literal and figurative fingerprints.

The solution? There is in Nevada an office that can, under some circumstances, take possession of homes and their contents. The Police involved the Public Administrator’s Office (links relating to this agency are available in Update 6 as is a complete analysis of their involvement), enlisting the help of Clark County Deputy PA Steve Grodin. But by this time, Sterner learned that Scott was dead, and her cooperation ended. Grodin and the Police knew that she was the joint tenant of Scott’s home, that with Scott dead, she had sole control of the home, but she refused them entrance.

This too was a major problem. The Public Administrator can’t take possession of a home if somewhere who lives there is alive and/or available. The clumsy, desperate solution was to ignore Sterner and pretend that no one was able to secure the home, thus involving the PA’s office. Frantic, repeated calls were made to Kevin Scott, Erik’s younger brother who lives out of state, to secure his permission to enter despite the irrefutable fact that he had no legal standing to give such permission. Kevin, unaware of Nevada law on the topic, nonetheless refused them and some six hours after the shooting, Grodin and at least one police officer used a locksmith to enter. They searched Erik’s home, finding and taking the Ruger and other items, items that they hoped might provide a plausible cover for being there in the first place. Of course, the Ruger would not, could not, appear on police evidence forms, nor could anything else taken from the home during an obviously illegal search. Grodin solved that problem by taking, and returning some, but not all, of the property. The property was not logged into the Police evidence system because that would have established irrefutable evidence of their improper, illegal search and seizure.

In the meantime, detectives arrived and took over the scene. At some point, lead Detective Peter Calos simply plucked Scott’s Blackberry from the ground, eliminating any possibility of that cell phone appearing in a photograph or a diagram.

Witnesses were interviewed and their statements were subtly--perhaps not so subtly--nudged in the right directions. Witnesses not sure of what they saw were encouraged to believe that Scott had a gun and pointed it at the Police, or at the very least, nothing was done to encourage them to clarify potentially mistaken assumptions, no matter how ill conceived. Witnesses whose recollections weren’t convenient or who could not be nudged were dismissed and would not be asked to testify at the Inquest. Even so, no witness would testify to seeing a gun and a cell phone on the ground, only a gun or something that might have been a gun or something that might have been in some way related to a gun.

Higher ups in agencies that would have to be involved in the case were either notified of what was expected of them, or perhaps no such notification was necessary in a city where police shootings are so common and where officer culpability is so rare as to make a mockery of probability. Everyone knows what’s happening but they don’t really want to know what’s happening, and plausible deniability is preserved (at least for higher ranking officers). Perhaps everyone simply followed what had become, over the years, informal, normal procedure for such matters. No real decisions needed to be made. The long established, off the books procedure for “handling” officer involved shootings clicked comfortably into place. Everyone knew their role and played it. At the Inquest, Officers and others would not commit blatant perjury, but their testimony would be partial, imprecise, fuzzy on details, non-specific and would not focus on what the shooters knew, what actually happened and the aftermath, but would focus on attacking Erik Scott. This case and all potential danger would, as it always had in the past, end with the Inquest. All everyone needed to do was hang together and support the official version, without being too specific, through the Inquest and everyone could relax, just as they always had. But this time, this shooting, the Police shot the wrong man. They enraged the wrong family, a military family, a family that runs toward the sound of gunfire, not away from it. This time, the case could not, would not be buried with the victim. The Police had no reason to suspect that this bad fortune would befall them. They would soon, to their growing discomfort and amazement, discover that it did.


(1) NEW SHOOTING INFORMATION: During his inquest testimony, Off. Mosher confirmed that he was caught off guard by Scott’s sudden appearance, the sudden appearance of a man and his girlfriend simply walking calmly out of the store. He testified that he was surprised because he was waiting for his superiors to come up with a tactical plan. This confirms our past analysis of his level of awareness and preparedness; he and Stark and Mendiola were utterly surprised and acted out of panic despite having, by police standards, a long time to plan and prepare.

Since the last update, some of the mechanics of the shooting have become clearer. It now appears that it was Off. Mosher who failed to recognize Scott as he walked past him out the front doors of the Costco. Costco Security guard Shai Lierley, who had been following Scott throughout the store, speaking to a police dispatcher by cell phone, frantically pointed Scott out to Mosher who, with Stark and Mendiola, immediately drew and pointed their weapons at Scott and began to yell conflicting commands. Scott turned 180° toward the first Officer, Mosher, who yelled at him, turning his back to the parking lot. When Mosher opened fire approximately two seconds later, his backstop was not pillars, but a parking lot full of Costco shoppers who were leaving the building at the command of the Police. In fact, many shoppers--the number may never be known with certainty--were standing within feet of the shooting, actually surrounding the Officers and Scott and Sterner, and were diving to the ground, throwing their bodies in front and on top of loved ones, and ducking for whatever cover they could find, many after the fact, so rapidly did the shooting begin and end.

What remains something of a mystery, even with the digital recreation of the shooting presented in the Inquest, is the exact positions of Stark and Mendiola. Their testimony suggests that they really had no idea who fired the first two shots or why; they reflexively fired in response to those shots, not because they truly perceived Scott as a deadly, imminent threat requiring that they fire five rounds into his back and armpit as he fell, face down, to the ground. Within a few minutes of the last shot, they certainly understood the wisdom of testifying that Scott was a deadly threat and did so at the Inquest. The possibility remains that at least some of their rounds were fired, essentially straight down into his back as they stood over him. Even the Medical Examiner, responding to the few questions from the Scott family and their attorney that were read into the record, provided an imprecise, fuzzy accounting of the rounds fired, their impact and resting places and their tracks through Scott’s body, including the shot into Scott’s armpit which remains the least documented and understood round to strike Scott. All of these issues should, by the time of the inquest nearly two months after the shooting, have been clearly determined, measured, catalogued, solidified and recreated with no room for error or argument, yet these issues, issues that could conclusively indicate guilt or innocence, malice or misfortune, remain unclear. This speaks of incompetence on the part of not only the Police but of the Medical Examiner. These individuals and their respective agencies seem willing to appear incompetent, likely because the alternative is worse, much worse.

The assertion of Metro Police Captain Patrick Neville that no civilian was ever endangered by police fire because the officers used a pillar (as in "one") as a backstop is surprisingly clumsy and transparent. The “pillars” in the area are actually huge support structures, integral steel and concrete portions of the building that are faced by irregularly sized and embedded stone. Not only would they be completely incapable of absorbing bullets, they would be, as was surmised in past updates, incredibly efficient random ricochet generators. Considering the number of innocent citizens within feet of the paths of police bullets, any ricochet would have been virtually certain to cause injury, even death.

Why would a police captain, a member of the upper management of the agency, make a statement so obviously false and so easily proved false by nothing more than the use of the human eye? It would not be unreasonable to believe that he did so because the upper management of the agency knew exactly what had happened. They knew about and approved of the cover up. As they had for years, they participated in deflecting blame and diverting attention, expecting no backlash, no consequences for misleading the public. But ultimately they were willing to get involved in this incredible way because they believed they’d never be questioned, or they were willing to appear to be incompetent, to be thought to be liars, because the alternative was worse.

(2) THE VANISHING CELL PHONE: It’s not known exactly how Scott’s Blackberry came to be on the ground near his body. This too, incredibly, the Inquest failed to clearly explain or resolve, perhaps for good reason. By far the most obvious, likely explanation is that it was in Scott’s hand when he was shot. There are witness statements in support of this contention. It is likewise probable that it was this Off. Mosher saw and misinterpreted as a gun, if he saw anything at all in Scott’s hand. It was likely this, not a gun, that some witnesses saw and believed to be a gun because everything that they heard and thought they saw would lead most people to believe that a gun must have been present, particularly if they were encouraged to make that interpretation, but there can be no doubt that the Blackberry was there: The Police testified that it was there.

Lead Detective Peter Calos did something incredible, something that defies proper police procedure, something that no officer investigating the scene of an officer involved shooting should ever do. He testified that he picked up the phone, which must have been before its position was recorded and measured. Whether he told crime scene technicians that it was ever there is unknown, but by removing it, he obliterated any possibility of its ever being photographed in place. It did not appear on the digital reconstruction of the scene. The Prosecution, of course, did not question one of the most questionable actions thus far known in this case. But the best--as in incompetent or corrupt--part of Calos’ explanation for what any competent detective would classify as a boneheaded rookie cop mistake is that he picked up the phone to try to identify Scott.

All available evidence suggests that this is less than accurate and forthcoming. By the time Calos and his team arrived some 45 minutes after the shooting, Samantha Sterner had been identified and questioned. She absolutely identified Scott to the Police. The alternative possibility is that the Police waited some 45 minutes before trying to discover the identity of a man they shot and killed. Even if Sterner had never existed, Erik Scott’s wallet had been found in his right front pocket by EMT personnel and handed to the Police before the ambulance left Costco, and his identify thereby discovered. The Public Administrator’s office had been enlisted to enter and search Erik Scott’s home, all the while ignoring the wishes of Sterner, his joint tenant, refusing entry. There can be no reasonable doubt that the Police knew exactly who Erik Scott was within minutes of the dying echos of the last police gunshots.

Two possibilities remain: Calos, the lead detective directing the investigation of an officer involved shooting, mindlessly made a mistake that would have caused a rookie cop making a similar mistake to suffer a lengthy suspension or be fired. Or Calos needed to remove the cell phone from the scene--and the possibility of memories of that phone from witnesses--to make way for a missing object, an object that would replace the cell phone. The Police needed to clear the way for the one, and only one, object they desperately needed to be there: Erik Scott’s Kimber .45, the same gun Sterner knew Scott was carrying, the same gun seen by Costco employees and found on his body, still holstered, in the ambulance on its way to the hospital by fireman/medic Chris Thorpe. Thus was an experienced detective apparently willing to blatantly violate crime scene protocol, to tamper with evidence, to appear to be incompetent, because the alternative was worse.

(3) THE ABORTIVE BLACKBERRY SEARCH: The police did, for some time, try to crack the password on Scott’s Blackberry, even asking his relatives for help, but were apparently not able to gain access to its data. Like the search of Scott’s home outlined in Update 6, this is yet another improper, unjustified search attempt by the Police, another illegal fishing expedition. If this theory of the case is correct--Scott had the cell phone in his hand before being shot--that, and its position on the pavement relative to his body were important pieces of evidence, evidence that had to be painstakingly measured, documented and photographed. But Det. Calos destroyed the usefulness of the phone as evidence of the shooting when he tampered with the scene by removing it. Under no conceivable circumstance were its contents related to the shooting; they should have been of no interest to the Police. Scott was dead. He could not be charged with any crime. They knew exactly who he was. There were no grounds to search his Blackberry though the Police clearly tried. It should not be forgotten that there was one powerful, though secondary, motive for this and every other search: The desire to find something, anything to use to smear Scott after his death in a desperate, ex post facto (Latin: "After the fact") attempt to justify an unjustifiable shooting.

(4) THE MISSING GUN: There was no gun on the ground near where Scott lay because Scott did not have sufficient time to respond to multiple, conflicting commands. He did not have sufficient time to remove his inside the waistband holster and handgun before he was shot and fell, face down, to the pavement. His gun remained where it was, holstered inside the waistband of his pants, under his shirt, and Off. Mosher, in his frenzied haste to handcuff Scott, did not find it nor did any other officer. Fireman/medic Chris Thorpe did, in the ambulance, on the way to the hospital and turned it over to the officer accompanying him. There was more than sufficient time for the weapon to be returned to the scene and stealthily positioned for diagramming and photography.

But a serious problem remained: What about Chris Thorpe? Could he be relied upon to keep his mouth shut? To falsify official records, to commit multiple crimes, to participate in an ongoing criminal conspiracy? What about the ambulance driver? For whatever reason, this was obviously too large a risk. Thorpe found a gun (and a magazine which will be explored shortly), the gun the Police needed back at the scene of the shooting to make the Officer’s shooting of Scott even remotely justifiable. Without it a strong, perhaps overpowering, case could be made that three Metro officers shot and killed a man who posed no threat to them or anyone else. With it, the issue could at least be muddied and, as had so often been done in the past, things might, with time, be forgotten and buried. Thorpe found a gun and that fact couldn’t be buried. Actually, his discovery of a gun was absolutely necessary to the hastily arranged plan that followed, but what if Thorpe found a second gun? Not the gun that Off. Mosher testified that Scott pointed at him--that gun had to be returned to and placed at the scene (Note: Every action described in this theory fits comfortably within known time frames). It could never be acknowledged that Thorpe found the .45 on Scott’s body. But another gun, a gun that through incredible, virtually unbelievable incompetence the Officers did not find on the man who had allegedly posed a lethal danger to them seconds earlier despite having the presence of mind and time to handcuff him could be found. It had to be found.

Yet again, the police were willing to appear to be incompetent, dangerously incompetent, something every officer fears and will go to great lengths to avoid. Something that every agency loathes and will take extraordinary measures to avoid even the appearance of, because the alternative was worse.

(5) THE SEARCH OF THE CAR: Shortly after Scott’s shooting but before Sterner knew that he was dead (he wasn’t officially pronounced dead until a few minutes after he arrived at the hospital), the Police asked for and received Sterner's written permission to search her car which was in the Costco parking lot. Scott was never placed under arrest or suspected of committing any crime in which that car or its contents could have possibly played a part (a Dispatcher did suggest to responding officers the possibility that Scott might have been shoplifting or trespassing, but never actually said that he was, and no witness testified that he shoplifted or trespassed by refusing to leave the store), yet the Police felt the need to search Sterner’s car. It is not known whether they removed anything from the car. No official records were revealed to that effect during the Inquest, and nothing is known to be missing, though it is possible.

Why did they need to search Sterner’s car? A car that could only have been involved if struck by a Police bullet (it was not)? Return to the ambulance bearing a dead or dying Erik Scott to the hospital. His Kimber .45 and a spare magazine were found and turned over to the police. Probably at about the same time, at the scene of the shooting, the Police were examining the contents of Scott’s wallet. In that freshly blood stained wallet, with his concealed carry permit, were seven “blue cards,” gun registration cards required by Nevada law, including one so new it had not yet been laminated, a blue card for a recently purchased Ruger .380 pistol.

Problem solved! The Police would still look incompetent for failing to find a gun on such a “dangerous” man, but perhaps a little less incompetent considering a small pistol like the Ruger. Thorpe could still be allowed to have found a pistol and magazine and put that fact in his report, but he’d have to be pretty fuzzy about the details. Firemen and medics, like police officers, must be exact in their reports. Details are important and particularly important when documenting an officer involved shooting, yet Thorpe, who according to spectators present in the courtroom during the Inquest appeared to be “very nervous,” failed to specifically identify the make, model and caliber of the weapon (all of which are molded or engraved into the frames or slides of modern semi automatic pistols), or to particularly identify exactly where the Ruger and its magazine were found in Scott’s clothing. On the witness stand his description was so vague that he could only offer that the gun he found fit in his hand. While the Ruger might do this somewhat more comfortably, Scott’s compact, custom .45 would also fit that description. The layman might imagine these to be important, even vital details, and they would imagine correctly.

Amazingly, when Thorpe testified, he was not shown or asked to identify the Ruger or the Kimber .45. Could this be because the Police and Prosecutor could not be sure which weapon Thorpe would identify, and because he had never seen the Ruger, would be very likely to identify the gun he did find, the Kimber .45? Both weapons had been displayed in court earlier during the week long run of the Inquest. In fact, Det. Calos later testified, to the surprise of everyone in the courtroom, apparently including the Prosecutors, that the Ruger had been “nicked” and damaged by the bullet that struck Scott in the thigh. This caused quite a stir--no such damage was apparent in photos taken of the weapon as it was displayed during the inquest, and no one present could recall seeing any obvious damage--and hasty, ill conceived assertions from the Prosecution that the guns were locked up and couldn’t easily be produced, but maybe could, possibly, if the jury reeeeallly want to see them... Failing to have the witness who discovered the handgun actually identify it is a rookie prosecutor mistake and could, in a real trial, lead to the disqualification of the evidence and all testimony and discoveries flowing from it. Again, those involved with the case were apparently willing to appear to be incompetent, because the alternative was worse.

(6) THE SEARCH OF THE HOME: Imagine the disappointment of the officers searching Sterner’s car when the Ruger was nowhere to be found. But all was not lost; the Ruger must be at Scott’s home. Why would the Police enlist the aid of an outside agency, enlarging the ever growing ranks of those who had direct knowledge of an ever growing conspiracy, people who could be hard, perhaps impossible to control? Why would they break into a home, search it and seize property knowing that the sole living resident of that home refused them entry and that their entry, search and seizure could not possibly be justified? Because the alternative was worse. The Ruger had to be found and taken into Police custody. If not, the entire justification for the shooting and everything that followed would fall apart. But wouldn’t that require the police to falsify evidence and other reports regarding when and where the Ruger was found and taken into evidence, and wouldn’t that be a serious crime in and of itself? Of course, but the alternative was worse.

If it is assumed that this theory is correct, wouldn’t it have been easier and quicker for the Police to produce a throw down gun, a gun untraceable to them, of the kind sometimes used by corrupt officers to cover a bad shoot? Impossible in this case. The Police had ample, blood stained evidence in their hands that Scott scrupulously obeyed Nevada firearms laws. Not only that, his multiple blue cards indicated that he owned only quality, expensive firearms. A cheap throw down would be too out of place, too hard to explain in a case already filling to the brim with hard to explain happenstances.

The authorities had yet another need. They had to keep Sterner out of her home until they could search it to ensure that the Ruger was there. They could not allow her to be present for the search as she might see what they were up to. When they left, their prize in hand, the locksmith they hired to enter the home changed the locks and the keys were not turned over to Sterner, but to Kevin Scott around mid-day of the following day, after he arrived from out of state. They locked Sterner out of the home Scott and she shared on the day she was forced, at point blank range, to watch the Police shoot and kill Scott. The fiction that she did not exist, that she was not in control of her own home, had to be maintained.

According to those who knew Scott best, including Sterner who lived with him, he never carried a second firearm, not the Ruger, not any other weapon. Is it therefore impossible that Scott could have been carrying the Ruger that day? No, but human beings are creatures of habit and discipline, particularly those who have been military officers, and there are other reasons that suggest this is quite unlikely. Scott always carried his wallet in his right front pants pocket. That wallet and its contents were stained with his blood, indicating clearly that it was in his right front pants pocket. Therefore, Det. Calos’ testimony that the Ruger was damaged by the bullet that struck Scott’s thigh is not likely to be factually based as the Ruger could only have been in his right rear pants pocket.

Those searching the home spent little time there. It was simply not necessary. The Ruger and its spare magazine were quickly found, but no Police document would ever record it as being found there and it would not surface again until the Inquest. Other items were, however, taken from the home: Several expensive watches, several checkbooks, A .40 S&W Sig handgun, a paintball gun and a ceremonial saber and sheath--sealed in a wall mounted display case(!)--given to Scott by his family upon his graduation from West Point. Those who have read Update 6 may recall that Deputy PA Grodin left a message for Kevin Scott which indicated that he intended to search Erik’s home for “weapons and valuables.” The items taken were cover, cover for the illegal but absolutely necessary seizure of the Ruger. All the “weapons” and a few paltry valuables that could be quickly and easily gathered up and taken to provide a transparent justification for a search that could not be justified were taken and kept by Grodin. No doubt the citizens of Las Vegas are resting easier these days upon discovering the efforts of their police to curb the paintball and wall decoration ceremonial saber scourges.

These items were soon returned to the Scott family, but not without some difficulty. Because he does not live in Nevada, the Sig .40 had to be sent to Erik's father, Bill Scott, by means of FFL dealers. Scott was contacted within a week of the seizure by the Las Vegas dealer enlisted by Grodin and told that it was highly unusual for the PA’s office to release such things so quickly as the process usually took months. Perhaps Mr. Grodin had a fit of conscience? Or perhaps he merely wanted to get rid of incriminating evidence as quickly as possible. When the Sig finally arrived, the slide was jammed open, intentional damage requiring repair, more money imposed on the Scott family by Las Vegas authorities. All of these items could have been returned directly to Sterner, incurring no expense for the Scott family, but Sterner had to remain, to the authorities, a non-person who had no interest in the home or its contents that she shared with Scott.

(7) THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE MISSING MAGAZINE: At the Inquest, both handguns were displayed, but only one spare magazine: The spare magazine of the Ruger pistol. The spare .45 magazine Scott always carried in his left front pants pocket was nowhere to be found. Yet, Thorpe did find that .45 magazine and turned it, and the .45, over to the officer in the ambulance. Scott always carried his wallet in his right front pants pocket and was doing just that on the day he was shot. This was confirmed by Scott’s blood on that wallet, blood from the thigh wound inflicted by Mosher, and ironically, the blue card for the Ruger.

Scott was right handed, so he carried his handgun in an inside the waistband holster behind his right hip so that the grip of the weapon would lay flat against his back to avoid imprinting through his clothing. He carried his wallet in his right front pocket--there can be no doubt of this--and his spare .45 magazine in his left front pocket where he could quickly reach it with his left hand. If he had worn these pants several times before July 10, 2010, the material would be worn in such a way as to confirm what he carried and where.

This makes Det. Calos’ testimony of the Ruger pistol damaged by the bullet that struck Scott in the thigh strange indeed. Such damage is unlikely at best because Scott would have had to have been carrying the Ruger in his right rear pocket. This too is unlikely. Few people find sitting on a handgun comfortable, and the Ruger would have been directly behind the holstered .45, making a thick, doubly uncomfortable, difficult to conceal package. In order for the bullet to have struck the Ruger in Scott’s right rear pocket, it, or at least a substantial fragment, must have entirely pierced his thigh. As Mosher was standing near Scott when he fired, the bullet must have been traveling at a sharp downward angle. Even if the bullet struck Scott in the very top of the thigh, and even if its path was exactly parallel to the ground, a pocketed Ruger would have been above the path of the bullet. If it was traveling on a downward path, as it surely must have been, the bullet would have exited Scott’s leg substantially below his right rear pocket unless it was deflected, upward, by Scott’s femur, and not only would the probability of such a deflection be vanishingly small, there is apparently no such testimony or evidence. Det. Calos’ testimony was apparently designed to reinforce the story that Scott was carrying a second gun, the Ruger, in his right front pocket. Remember Thorpe’s strangely worded, obscure report regarding finding a weapon and magazine and their locations. Or perhaps Calos was merely improvising on the stand. In any case, if the Ruger is ever seen again, it will almost certainly have acquired damage that might have been caused by a bullet. Either that, or Det. Calos will have to retract his testimony. Yet again, is this incompetence, or obfuscation necessary to avoid a worse alternative?

What happened to the .45 magazine? According to those who knew Scott intimately, including Sterner who lived with him, Scott never carried the Ruger. He kept it, and its spare magazine, in an easily accessible place as a home defense gun. When the police took that gun and magazine from Scott’s home, they had another problem. A spare .45 magazine would only confuse matters. No one at Costco said anything about it because it was in Scott’s left front pocket, invisible. Having it wouldn’t make things easier for the Police. In fact, it would certainly raise questions such as why anyone would carry two separate magazines for two very different weapons in the same pocket, making it very difficult to retrieve the correct magazine under pressure. Scott was certainly more than tactically schooled and aware enough to understand the foolishness of this. So the Ruger magazine would surface at the Inquest and the .45 magazine would not. Not all of the documents the Police have relating to this case have been produced, but the location of that magazine remains unknown. It would not be unreasonable to believe that it has been “lost” or destroyed.


A particularly disturbing pattern has recently emerged. Sterner has, in the last two weeks (circa late October, 2010), received two traffic tickets from Metro Police, and several friends and supporters of Sterner and the Scott family have been followed, several for great distances, distances that would eliminate the possibility that such following was mere coincidence, by the Police. In each case, there was a common factor: Each vehicle displayed the distinctive red, white and blue remembrance ribbon distributed in memory of Erik Scott to the rear.

While it is possible that Ms. Sterner has merely had an unusual run of bad luck in her driving habits, this too, like so much about this case, is unusual, questionable. Most people can drive for many years, even decades, without a single citation. But the unusual has become the commonplace in this case. What is most disturbing about this Police behavior is that it is counter to common sense and to professional Police practice, again, as so many of their actions in this case seem to have been.

When a civil or criminal trial is pending, professional, honest police agencies will go out of their way to avoid even the appearance of undue interest, witness tampering or harassment. Competent Officers know, without being told, to avoid people who might be involved in the case, even if that means they might get to run the occasional stop sign or drive ten miles an hour over the speed limit. Officers who fail to listen will find themselves being smartly dressed down by more experienced officers or failing that, by their line supervisors. It rarely has to go higher than that level. This does not mean that officers will ignore gross violations of the law, but they’ll call officers completely unrelated to the case at hand should police intervention be unavoidable.

The behavior of the Metro Police suggests that they believe themselves to be unaccountable to the public. This is always a dangerous, destructive state of affairs. It causes Officers to believe themselves to be above the law, even a law unto themselves. If it goes on long enough, it allows the bad to outnumber, suppress and overpower the good among them. It leads to a police force that is distinguishable from criminals only in that the police wear identifiable uniforms. It breaks the bonds of trust between citizens and their police. It corrupts the corruptible and unfairly taints honest officers. It is the antithesis of, and dangerous to, democracy. LATE UPDATE: As of 10-23-10, Sterner has received an additional citation and now has been issued three in a bit over two weeks.


There was a Police helicopter on the scene, including throughout the shooting. Police helicopters carry video cameras. Did the crew record the shooting? Even if they did not, competent police procedure requires that the tape or other recording media be preserved in evidence and made available for examination in any legal proceeding. The results will, no doubt, be interesting.

Much has been made by some of the fact that Samantha Sterner did not testify at the Inquest despite being subpoenaed. In fact, the subpoena was not served on Sterner, but was merely given to her brother. Under the law, she was never actually served. Her attorney, knowing full well the nature and outcome of the Inquest, advised her not to attend and not to testify. Considering the fact that the Prosecution savaged some of its own witnesses, this was wise advice.

Costco Security Employee Shai Lierley is reportedly hoping to become a member of the Metro Police. After his testimony at the Inquest, he sat and hung out with the Police in the Inquest for at least two additional days. It will be interesting to see if his steadfast devotion to the official story is rewarded.

A number of Costco witnesses, and Officer Mosher, have stated that Scott referred to himself as a “Green Beret,” and Mosher testified that he knew that Scott was skilled with weapons because he was a Green Beret. This is, at best, implausible for several reasons. No one in the Army uses the term “Green Beret,” saying instead “SF” or Special Forces. They really are quiet professionals. It is part of military culture never to claim membership in units in which you did not serve, never to claim to have been awarded medals you did not earn, and never to claim rank you did not earn. Those pitiful individuals who do are justly reviled by honest soldiers. Erik Scott’s service was entirely honorable. He was a West Point graduate, an officer of armor, and as such, like all his fellows, would have thought that honor, that assignment, enough. It would not occur to an honorable soldier to claim what they had not earned, and Scott was an honorable soldier. And of course, Mosher could not have known anything about Scott’s level of tactical accomplishment before, or in the two seconds before he shot him. His testimony had no bearing on his justification for the shooting as much as he and the Metro Police would like it to be so.

In Update 3, I wrote of Costco Cashier Arlene Houghton who testified that Scott actually fell on her checkout conveyor belt. However, the real story is quite different. Houghton actually testified that a man, who appeared to be drunk, fell on her conveyor belt some two hours before the shooting. Scott and Sterner were not in the store until much later. In fact, her “recognition” of Scott was only possible because she heard a description of the man who had been shot that day. She never saw a photograph of Scott until the day of the Inquest and said that he was better looking in pictures than in person. Houghton only thought that Scott was the man who fell on her conveyor belt, but Scott was not in the store when it happened. This is what passes for the truth when there is no opportunity for adversarial questioning in court. Ms. Houghton, no doubt, testified as honestly as she knew how, but she is, quite obviously, mistaken in her identification of Erik Scott. The larger problem is that the Prosecution must have known that Houghton was mistaken and that her testimony would be, at best, misleading, but they also knew that it would not be challenged. This does not speak well of their fundamental human decency or of their professional integrity.

Some commenters have inquired about Police testimony suggesting that Scott was committing a crime when he was shot. My reading of the relevant Nevada Revised Statutes is that there is no particular statute touching on the carrying of a backup weapon. That which is not prohibited is allowed. It’s my impression that the Police’s primary contention was that because Scott had drugs in his system, he was violating the law by carrying a gun. Again, my reading of the relevant statute is that it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon while drunk, or if addicted to drugs. The testimony of three physicians who treated Scott over several years was anything but clear on this point. Several expressed varying concerns over his use of drugs they prescribed for legitimate medical reasons, but none could have possibly testified that Scott was, on July 10, 2010, without doubt addicted to any given controlled substance. Again, the Police appear to be grasping at ex post facto straws to smear Scott.


This has been a lengthy, but I hope informative, post. I have tried to construct a plausible working theory based on the available evidence. In this, because of my experience, I am probably better able than most to make accurate inferences to fill gaps in available evidence. This is the nature of experience. But I make that claim with the ever present understanding that I do not have all of the facts. I could be unintentionally mistaken in matters small or large, and when more of the facts become available, I will make appropriate corrections. To that end, I invite any Metro Officer or others having direct knowledge of this case to contact me or my co-blogger Bob Owens. I know that if my theory is correct, there are honest officers who want to see justice done, in their daily duties and in this. Likewise, I rely on the sharp wits and keen eyes of our readers to provide insights that I, like any single writer, could easily miss. One of the great strengths of the blogosphere is the fact that there are thousands of experienced, capable people who can rapidly bring enormous experience and knowledge to bear on any issue, as Dan Rather found out to his dismay in the Memogate affair.

Currently servicing police officers tend to be a bit dismissive of ex-police officers. Hardly a week goes by that someone doesn’t tell an officer that they too used to be cops. The reality of police work and its fast paced, immediate nature virtually dictates that if you are not actually working with a given group of cops on a daily basis, you really don’t exist unless they have to deal with you. Their focus must, of necessity, be elsewhere.

That said, I hope that I’ve provided a service, and will continue to provide a service for those honest officers who work hard to attain and maintain reputations for unblemished integrity. If they have been reading my updates, I suspect that those officers know exactly what I’m saying and why I have to say it. Given the same facts, they’d come to the same conclusions and develop the same theory. As I said in a past update, we honor no one when we allow corruption in the force, and when we don’t resist and root it out, we dishonor the honorable officers who know that they work for the people and that they truly do protect and serve.

I hope that my theory is wrong. I pray that it’s wrong. Sadly, I seriously doubt that it’s wrong. As with all conspiracies, sunlight remains the best disinfectant.

Posted by MikeM at October 23, 2010 01:57 AM

One sad thing is, if you theory is correct, the officers now have created or reinforced a web of corruption which will lead to more corruption.

Now, if an officer does something rogue, his colleagues have to look the other way. Otherwise, if brought up on charges, that officer might roll-over on the other cops.

Posted by: mockmook at October 23, 2010 01:51 PM


What kind of odds do you give that this conspiracy (assuming it happened) will be exposed and lead to real consequences?

Posted by: mockmook at October 23, 2010 01:57 PM

"Thorpe turned these items over to the police officer--identity unknown--accompanying him in the ambulance."

How is it that the officer riding in the ambulance is "unknown"? No need for him at the "inquiry"?

Posted by: Jeff at October 23, 2010 04:44 PM

According to Erik's father, his bloodstained carry license for the Ruger was found in his wallet. Yet Detective Carlos testified that he was not licensed to carry the Ruger. Very, very strange. Why introduce the additional element of a criminal offense when it can be so easily proven to be false?

This entire case stinks, and the stink will be emanating from a Federal courthouse soon as the civil trial begins. I suspect the Scotts will not settle for anything less than a thorough housecleaning of LVMPD.

Posted by: Paul Schmehl at October 23, 2010 06:32 PM


You have set forth a very convincing theory that I, to a certain extent, buy into. However, the vastness of the conspiracy you have outlined is breathtaking both in the number of police officers who would, of necessity, have to be involved, and in the fact that outside agencies and their personnel would have to knowingly be complicit in that conspiracy.

Those two things alone are hard to rectify. You are talking about not only line police officers and supervisors, but detectives and their supervisors, crime scene technicians and their supervisors, laboratory technicians and their supervisors, along with a certain number of highly placed police brass. Then you have to look at EMT personnel and their supervisors and of course the Deputy Public Administrator and perhaps the Public Administrator that he answers to. The Prosecutor's Office to include the Assistant Prosecutor(s) directly handling the case, any clerks involved in the case file prep, and of course the Prosecutor (or District Attorney in my state). Of course, this conspiracy would also include the Coroner's Office and any investigative and medical personnel involved in the case from that office.

The sheer number of people who would have to go along with this conspiracy is staggering. I cannot believe that there is not one person of conscience who takes their job seriously and to heart can be found in all those agencies within the Metro Las Vegas area who might have been involved in this case and saw something that made them go...hmmm.

Also, let's say for the sake of argument that Erik did in fact have his cell phone in his hand and that the officers were taken by suprise by suddenly finding that their "irrational man with a gun" that they were responding to Costco for, was only feet away, and that in the compressed time available to respond to so near a threat, saw something in the hand of their "man with a gun" and made the assumption that it was a gun.

Police have made this mistake time and again across the country and although they might suffer some serious personal issues in the aftermath, they have usually been found not guilty of criminal action when their shooting is examined in the light of what they knew at the time of the shooting and what they saw or thought they saw at the time of the shooting (the Amadou Diallo shooting by NYPD is a good example).

The officer's perception that the cell phone was a weapon and that they had only hundredths of a second to react would likely have cleared them, so what was to be gained by compounding the mistake with intentional deceit and conspiracy which if discovered, would destroy the lives and careers of a number of officers, and supervisors within the department along with involved parties of numerous other agencies?

The siren song of the theory that you have pontificated is strong though. Particularly in light of some of the actions by not only police personnel, but many others.

If your theory is correct, it would mean that either serious corruption or serious incompetence (if not both)is endemic to most if not all of the metro government of Las Vegas and that the corruption or incompetence is so deeply ingrained over such a long period of time as to be accepted as the normal way of doing business.

Like you, I hope and I pray that such is not the case. I look forward to your next installment and hope that you can obtain additional information that can shed more light on this horrible event.

Posted by: Montie at October 23, 2010 10:29 PM

This is the status quo here in Vegas. The Sheriff Doug Gillespie was involed in a serious domestic incident and non of the responding officers had authoritie to arrest him, and the final report ended up as a welfare check call. Despite the existance of a 911 tape and other documented evidence,that conveniantly "disappeared". The DA, Dave Rogers was caught taking money from Mafia strip club owners in the infamous "G-Sting" FBI investigation. His ultimate disposition was it was only legitimate campaign contrabutions even though there were audio surveillance tapes from the FBI with the mafia men asking if he got the money. The City Counsel members involved, all got prison time. I believe that all this extra cover-up is do to the re-election bids of the Sheriff and DA, this next month. I think that a good investigation and admission of a mistake.Coupled with disiplinary action of the Officer's involved would have gone alot further than outright lies and cover-up, towards their re-elections. Instead thousands of Las Vegas citizens are outraged with this entire deal. It's not even a good cover-up, the vail is so thin my 16 yr. old son says"what were they thinking Dad". All this coupled with several other recent shooting's of unarmed suspects, one who's fertive movement was to put his hands up, and get shot in the face by a detective with an M4 rifle. All were justified by the inquest. We hear have had enough and I believe the votes will show that. If not, when this case comes to trial I hope a lot of cops do time for their parts in all of this. If none of this comes to pass, then the Metro police should be considered making a fertive movement when they touch their guns. I am in no way condoning violence against police officer's, but to be afraid of them is entirely reasonable, givin the current state of thing's here.

The strongest reason for the
people to retain the right to keep and bear arms
is, as a last resort, to protect themselves
against tyranny in government.
Thomas Jefferson

Thanks once again Mike M. and you to Montie.


Posted by: Jvh at October 23, 2010 11:36 PM

Thanks Mike for some great analysis and may the good Lord bless you for taking the time to follow this! Many many very troubling questions. Hopefully a federal investigation is in progress already or will begin shortly. Many of the law enforcement officers where I live are pro-Second Amendment and pro-Civilian carry. They helped to reform our state's carry laws for the better. They also are much better trained and polite. Like many areas we are very dependent on tourism. An unprofessional police can badly hurt tourism and business. A professional police force can help tourism and business and make people feel both welcome and safe. This may be part of the reason poor Las Vegas has a 15% unemployment rate. Thank you for using the skills that you learned during your career to go over this in detail and taking the time to share your insights and findings. As a veteran, and also a West Point graduate, I would also like to commend you for speaking out on this tragedy. I pray that the truth will indeed come out in this matter speedily.

Posted by: ConcernedCitizen at October 23, 2010 11:43 PM
Police have made this mistake time and again across the country and although they might suffer some serious personal issues in the aftermath, they have usually been found not guilty of criminal action when their shooting is examined in the light of what they knew at the time of the shooting and what they saw or thought they saw at the time of the shooting (the Amadou Diallo shooting by NYPD is a good example).

Montie, as a cop, you have to know this rule -- a criminal will lie even when the truth suits them better. They lied because they've already gone over and think like criminals now.

The behavior of the Metro Police suggests that they believe themselves to be unaccountable to the public. This is always a dangerous, destructive state of affairs. It causes Officers to believe themselves to be above the law, even a law unto themselves. If it goes on long enough, it allows the bad to outnumber, suppress and overpower the good among them. It leads to a police force that is distinguishable from criminals only in that the police wear identifiable uniforms. It breaks the bonds of trust between citizens and their police. It corrupts the corruptible and unfairly taints honest officers. It is the antithesis of, and dangerous to, democracy.

I would submit to you the notion that this has become the norm in departments in this country, and probity the exception.

Posted by: Phelps at October 24, 2010 01:50 AM

The blue card that you refer to is a firearms registration card for Clark County only, and is not a state requirement. Nevada requires that the CCW permit itself lists by make and model each semi-auto pistol that you have qualified to carry. This is how you can have a pistol with a blue card, but not be permitted to carry it.

Posted by: TomB at October 24, 2010 02:08 AM


Thanks for the detailed analysis.

One question jumps out at me though. How do you eliminate the possibility that BOTH wallet and ruger might have been kept in the same front right pocket. This wasn't dealt with to my satisfaction in the original post.

Posted by: Slowjoe at October 24, 2010 09:07 PM

Sloe Joe,
Erik Scott was a fitness buff, and wore clothes that would show of his physique, meaning some what tight fitting. It probably would be uncomfortable to have both in the same pocket. This is also probably the reason his shirt exposed his carry weapon to a costco employee when he was bent over.

Posted by: Jvh at October 25, 2010 12:33 AM

Whether one cares to hear it or not, I'm a former LEO and this stinks to high heaven.

The comment about police thinking like criminals is cogent. A fellow officer told me that, "You deal with the scum of the Earth every day. When you reach the point you think everyone is the scum of the Earth, it is time to get out." I did but I had an alternate profession. The problem is that with today's "professional" police departments, such people have invested so much time & money in training that changing courses is difficult if not impossible.

Posted by: Jerry in Detroit at October 25, 2010 12:43 PM

they deal with the scum of the earth every day, have started to act like the scum of the earth themselves and murdered a rightous man.

often there is no earthly justice for events such as these.

but there is a God and he will deal out a fate worse than physical death on these scum

Posted by: rumcrook at October 25, 2010 01:53 PM


After reading this a couple times a few points. Not to nit pick but Start, is actually Joshua Stark. You also didn't mention Officer's on the scene telling many people to get in their cars and go home, even though they told the Officer's they saw the whole incedent. Also Sam Sterner was ticketed once again, but by the neighboring police department for going with the flow of traffic,4 or 5 miles over the speed limit. Her total fines right now are $600.

Thanks again for all your updates I hope more are to come.

Posted by: Jvh at October 25, 2010 01:55 PM

The only problem with this paranoid fantasy is that several witnesses testified that they saw Scott draw the Kimber (still in the holster which shows how much the drugs in his system affected him) and point it at Mosher. Stupid is as stupid does. Point a gun at a cop and get shot. Who'd thunk that?

But this does make great fiction.

Posted by: Federale at October 25, 2010 03:16 PM

I still see you are sticking to your idiot tendancies. I thought maybe you had stepped off the curb in front of a bus because someone told you it wouldn't hurt.

Posted by: Jvh at October 25, 2010 03:31 PM

Hey, Jvh, see this from Scott's girlfiend's statement:

Sterner was called to testify Friday but did not show up. Her lawyer, Ross Goodman, told reporters that she was not properly subpoenaed, and suggested she wouldn't have testified anyway.

"Samantha is dying to come forward, but she's not going to do it in a one-sided forum," he said, referring to the inquest. Goodman has said the Scott family plans a civil suit against the police and Costco.

He and other critics of the inquest say it is unfair because only prosecutors and jurors can question witnesses. Family members and other interested parties can only submit written questions to the judge, who decides whether to ask them.

Without Sterner on the witness stand, prosecutors played the recording of her statement to police after the shooting. The self-described model and television hostess said she had known Scott for three years, and that he was acting normally that day. His interaction with employees was amicable, she said, even though she wasn't there to see it.

She said that as they walked toward the store's exit, she told Scott he was probably the reason for the evacuation, and that he seemed surprised.

They reached the exit door and Sterner said she saw an employee point Scott out to a uniformed police officer outside.

"He (Officer William Mosher) immediately draws his weapon and tells him to get on the ground," she said, adding that Scott put his hands up with the intention of disarming.

Sterner said she screamed at the officers that Scott was in the military and had a concealed weapons permit. She told them not to shoot, she said.

Scott raised his shirt to reveal the gun and had grabbed it to put it on the ground when the officer fired his pistol, she said.

Even she admits that Scott had the gun in his hand when he was shot. We know from her statement that Scott did not have a cell phone in his hand.

Don't try and let facts get in the way of your paranoid conspiracy theories.

So there is not need to find a second gun. There was no desparate search for a missing gun. The Kimber was there and Scott was also carrying the Ruger. There was no cell phone in his hand. There is nothing to this whole case.

Posted by: Federale at October 25, 2010 04:15 PM

Are all these witnesses lying about seeing the Kimber?

Half a dozen shoppers testified that they saw Scott either pull his gun or reach for his waistband before the officers opened fire. Most said they heard only one officer giving commands. There has been some speculation that the three officers gave Scott conflicting commands that lead to confusion.

Annette Eatherton, who was shopping with her husband, said she saw Scott reach for his waist and then heard an officer say, "'Don't do that. Don't do that,' and he did it, and they shot him."

After the first shot, Eatherton said she saw a gun enclosed in a "gun rug" fall to the ground in front of Scott.

Her husband, Wentworth Eatherton, himself a former concealed weapons permit holder, gave a similar account and said he thinks Scott was probably trying to disarm, rather than draw his pistol and shoot. Still, he said, Scott should have followed the officer's commands.

"I really think he was just exasperated with the whole thing and wanted to hand them the gun which is where, I think, the mistake was made," Wentworth Eatherton said.

Shopper Barbara Fee testified that she and her 10-year-old granddaughter were sitting outside the exit door when they saw police confront Scott just feet away.

An officer yelled at Scott to get on the ground, but he reached for his hip, pulled a black object from his waist and aimed it at the officer, she said.

"I thought he was going to shoot the officer," she said. "Fortunately the officer was quicker."

Christopher Villareale testified that he watched the entire confrontation unfold after being one of the last shoppers to leave the store. He said he heard an officer order Scott to get on the ground and saw Scott lift his shirt and pull a handgun from his waistband.

"I honestly thought that civilians were going to get shot," Villareale said.

The officer probably saw Scott as a threat to himself and the dozens of people milling around the front doors, he said.

"He's probably thinking this guy is going to harm me or these customers, and I thought he did the right thing in shooting him," he said.

Posted by: Federale at October 25, 2010 04:19 PM

The only problem with this paranoid fantasy is that several witnesses testified that they saw Scott draw the Kimber (still in the holster which shows how much the drugs in his system affected him) and point it at Mosher.


Just how reliable was the key witness - the one who called 911 and described a frantic tweaker and set the whole tragedy on course - the medical experts showed he was on some heavy downers, quite the opposite effect.

We are to believe any of these witnesses word as gospel. THAT is stuck on stupid

Posted by: Sluggish Tweaker at October 25, 2010 04:54 PM

"Christopher Villareale testified that he watched the entire confrontation unfold after being one of the last shoppers to leave the store."

Yup, Villareale, saw it all and was so afeared for life he milled around the allegedly deranged and well armed tweaker.

"I honestly thought that civilians were going to get shot," Villareale said.

Breaking news - the only people who use the term "civilians" in that context are LEOs.

Posted by: Sluggish Tweaker at October 25, 2010 05:00 PM


I watched the entire inquest. I have the entire inquest taped. I live in Las Vegas, and the Rj is selectively printing testimony, not in it's entirety. There was conflicting command's,I guess you haven't heard the 911 tape yet, cause none of the other command's you quote are not on them. The Blackberry is clearly in the photo's but not in any of the diagrams, and guess what it's BLACK. The Kimber was far away from were Erik was said to have dropped the object, the Blackberry would have been at Mosher's feet. Villereale is a wanna be cop,who also stated," I've drawn my weapon hundreds of times that's how I knew the motion he was making",and" I was once stopped with a concealed carry weapon, I removed my firearm and put my hands up and got on the ground". Key word REMOVED my firearm. You can't see a gun in the gun rug, it's a zippered case, which nothing of the sort was found. I don't know where you live but it's obviously far removed from Las Vegas, because your fact's are way off, and inaccurate.

Posted by: Jvh at October 25, 2010 08:18 PM

The stench is overwhelming. Civil war is coming. And it may start in Las Vegas if the truth is not rapidly brought out.

Posted by: Mark Matis at October 25, 2010 08:29 PM

And "Federale" is probably Lon Horiuchi. His postings here are consistent with his prior performance at other murders by "Law Enforcement".

Posted by: Mark Matis at October 25, 2010 08:41 PM


You have raised a few legitimate points, but your provocative style insures that those points will not be considered here. I have made the point that Erik may have been attempting to disarm and reached for, or actually grasped his weapon. A move which would almost guarantee his being shot by any police officer in contact with him under the circumstances that MLVPD was called to Costco for.

The problems I have center around the actions of the police and especially the Public Administrator's Office in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. In addition, there are a lot of things that occurred during the on-scene investigation that if nothing else, reek of gross incompetence or negligence on the part of the investigative team.

As a cop, I understand how the shooting could have happened. What bothers me is that so many of the things that happened after the shooting SEEM to indicate some type of effort at CYA after the fact.

Many of the folks here have a very low opinion of the MLVPD, and from ongoing professional experience, I can say that "where there's smoke, there is usually fire".

I have gone over the audio tapes of both the radio traffic and the cellphone call between Shai Lierley and the call-taker. The radio traffic is telling because I was waiting for that breathless, high-pitched shout on the radio of "shots fired" that I have heard first hand many times and indeed it came. There is a section of the radio recording which is covered by a loud continuous tone that is, if not suspicious, certainly grounds for questioning what might have been missed or covered by it.

The cellphone call captured some of the officers commands and I have been able to pick out commands of "Get on the ground" at least twice and "Don't do that" the latter immediately before the first shot. It's hard to make out because of the ambient background in the Costco, but you can hear it. The time from the first command (that I could clearly distinguish) to the first shot was right at five seconds. The time from the first shot to the last shot (audible on the cell phone) was three seconds. This conflicts somewhat with the timing put forth here by others, but I have checked it numerous times, and in a situation like this these times are not unusual.

I have contacted CCTV 4 for a copy of the entire Coroner's Inquest, and should have it in the next few days. I plan to scrutinize it in depth. But even then, there are many questions which that proceeding will not satisfactorily answer, and may only come out in a civil proceeding or Federal investigation.

While you may be right that the shooting was justified from the point of view of the involved officers, there were a lot of actions taken just prior to it that do not reflect well on the competence of the MLVPD and which might have directly led to a needless shooting confrontation. In addition, as I said before some of the actions by the police and other agencies immediately after the shooting make what might have been a justified shooting look like something else.

A lot of the commenters here have made some points about conflicting statements from some of the witnesses, and most tend to only give credence to those witnesses whose testimony fits with their own personal construct of what happened that day at Costco. You too are falling into this trap.

If you have worked even more than a handful of investigations, then you know that personal eye witness testimony, which usually carries a lot of wieght in a legal proceeding, is in fact, highly unreliable. Even the statement from Ms. Sterner should be approached with investigative scepticism. It often takes a lot of follow-up and parsing of witness statements to arrive at something close to the truth, particularly in an unexpected and sudden violent confrontation, in a crowded situation like this one.

I say let's see what additional information comes out before we call the police murderers, like some commenters here, or call Erik Scott a junkie who deserved to die, as you seem to imply.

Posted by: Montie at October 26, 2010 03:18 AM

Mark Matis,

It's not what you know, it's what you can prove.

We all know Vicki Weaver's death was not by chance, but an intentional tactical decision to eliminate the true leader of that tribe to disrupt and demoralize her adherents. And, it worked. The other zealots did, in fact, surrender. Horiuchi was an outstanding marksman. He had been waiting for days for Vicki to show herself and made a perfect shot directly between Vicki's eyes from 250 yards, when she did. The infant she was holding in her arms, was not injured.

The question should not be if Horiuchi is a murder, but if the FBI command's modified 'rules of engagement' were legal.

That being said, clearly Officer Mosher badly interpreted "in fear of your life". He should of a least waited until Erik fired one or two shots at him to confirm Erik's intentions and validate his response. Anything less would make Mosher a murderer, right?

Good luck with your "civil war", let me know how that turns out for you.

Posted by: Buck Turgidson at October 26, 2010 01:02 PM

Montie as usual you are right I let my temper get the better of me. But understand that Federale has been other places and his arguments there have been Erik was a drug crazed criminal and deserved to die. Anyway my first impretion of this whole thing was Erik was frustrated and tried to hand the gun over, mistake, yes deserve to die for it NO. But the great lenghts the MVPD have gone to commit blatently illegal acts after the fact is highly suspicious to a completely justified shooting. If this instance were a single in nature I would be inclined to side with police but it sadly is not. Metro, had they said it was questionable,not in a criminal way but, not by the book. None of this would be coming to pass. Metro is responsable for creating the doubt now turned to outrage from the public. Their actions after the fact extremely suspicious. I do not believe it was intentional murder, just bad policing. I hope out all of this that better Officer's are on the streets, so no more needless loss of life occur's. May this be Erik's and Trevon's legacy.

Posted by: Jvh at October 26, 2010 01:58 PM

Buck Turgidson:

If a non-LEO had pumped those bullets into Mr. Scott, what would "Law Enforcement" have done? Would they have said "Good job! You were fully justified?" Or would said individual be sitting in jail on a 1st Degree Murder charge? The stench is overwhelming!

Ah, but "Law Enforcement" is such a DANGEROUS job that they HAVE TO have less limits than John Q. Public, right? Bull! "Law Enforcement" doesn't even make the TOP TEN most dangerous jobs in this country:

Filthy. Maggot. Pigs.

Posted by: Mark Matis at October 26, 2010 07:19 PM

Mark Matis,

Indeed Mark, I understand now. (There I was, just committing my crime when the police showed up and violated my rights.)

So, where did you serve your 'time'?

Posted by: Buck Turgidson at October 26, 2010 07:35 PM

Keep on suckin', Buck! Got a lotta practice with them donuts, eh?

Posted by: Mark Matis at October 26, 2010 08:16 PM

The question should not be if Horiuchi is a murder, but if the FBI command's modified 'rules of engagement' were legal.

REALLY? thats what the question should be?

yeah thats what the question should be if your a fuckin nazi.

I was just following orders from zee fuhrer.

buck you may have a shinning future as a fascist state apologist.

Posted by: rumcrook at October 26, 2010 09:22 PM

mmm and im thinking popping a women got that? a women holding a baby, got that? HOLDING A BABY! between the eyes,

IS SOMETHING TO BRAG ABOUT, unless your one of saddam hussiens republican guards, or fedayeen.

fuck horrucci.

Posted by: rumcrook at October 26, 2010 09:30 PM

Just remember - the outstanding Buck is REPRESENTATIVE of a LARGE number of what is passed off as "Law Enforcement" in this country. Not only do they REFUSE to honor their oath of office to "...preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution...". but they MOCK those who actually have the NERVE to reaffirm that oath as members of the Oathkeepers. The stench is overwhelming. In fact, that sewage actually makes the Mafia look good by comparison. After all, while BOTH are Thugs with Guns, at least the Mafia honored their oath or they were gone. PERMANENTLY! So Mr. or Ms. Police Officer - Which is it? Do you ACTUALLY honor your oath of office? Or do you bow and scrape before your Masters and then do whatever you're told?

Filthy. Maggot. Pigs.

Posted by: Mark Matis at October 26, 2010 10:16 PM


I have been coming here to have a serious discussion about the Erik Scott shooting and the MLVPD actions before during and after the shooting. Remember, you really don't know who you are dealing with in internet discussions such as this one. There is no guarantee that "Buck Turgidson" is any kind of LEO. He may just be a small-minded troll who enjoys stirring people up on the internet.

I have to say though that I am very suprised at the sheer vitriol put forth by many of the commenters here towards law enforcement IN GENERAL. I for one resent being lumped together with the likes of disgraced FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi. That is one shooting in which the officer should have, without a doubt, been tried for murder, but it has nothing to do with the shooting of Erik Scott.

As I have expressed before, I have always felt that armed citizens were on the same "side" as the police, but statements the like of those I have seen here make me wonder who is on the other end of the internet here. Certainly not anyone like the people that I know who go armed.

Posted by: Montie at October 27, 2010 01:51 AM


"Small-minded troll", eh? Mark Matis and rumcrook I understand, because of their history. But you, I didn't think you'd be the genus not to handle the truth. So, please tell us what you know about Ruby Ridge that's not on the internet - like the film.

And remember pilgrim, what other people think about you is none of you business.

Posted by: Buck Turgidson at October 27, 2010 08:07 AM

So, Montie, I take it you don't feel vitriol is appropriate towards "Law Enforcement" that refuse to honor their oath of office? After all, it's ONLY an oath. right? Even though said oath is the SOLE AUTHORITY by which they put on their badge? Says enough about you for me. Thank you!

Posted by: Mark Matis at October 27, 2010 08:34 AM
As I have expressed before, I have always felt that armed citizens were on the same "side" as the police, but statements the like of those I have seen here make me wonder who is on the other end of the internet here. Certainly not anyone like the people that I know who go armed.

Here's the thing, Montie -- you don't know how we act when a cop isn't around. Yes, we are polite to you, and yes, we tell you what we think will keep you from overreacting. Just like how we would handle a strange dog who might attack at the slightest provocation. We treat cops like potentially rabid animals, because the results for us are the same.

I spent a long time feeling out cops and trying to sort out the good ones from the bad ones. Eventually, I accepted that even the ones who seem good have, by necessity (at least in my area -- DFW) learned the look the other way, give "professional courtesy" and excuse criminality by anyone who wears a badge. That's the only way that the rampant excesses can last as long as they have. The ones who don't quit (or got set up) long ago.

Las Vegas looks to be the same way, only more advanced down that path. A significant portion of the force has decided that they are the law, and the rest of the force has decided that they are better off abiding it than doing anything about it.

Posted by: Phelps at October 27, 2010 09:56 PM

The key to a professional group is their submission to a set of standards and their self-regulation of those who breach professional standards. It appears that in the history of officer involved shootings, Las Vegas cops don't make mistakes, at least not for many years. This is an unlikely history given the number of shootings. It is more likely that officers are protected by their system which looks less and less professional and more and more like a gang that operates at the fringe of legality.

Posted by: Jeff Jones at October 27, 2010 11:51 PM

To clarify my comment, I think Montie is 100% right that armed citizens are overwhelmingly on the side of law and order. So yes, you are correct that they are on your side. When it comes to doubts of who's on the side of law and order, I worry more about the police.

Posted by: Phelps at October 29, 2010 12:26 PM