Three weeks after press conference announcing it, still no suit for man killed by police

By: - August 12, 2020 1:11 pm

Jeanne Llera speaking at a press conference in July. (Photo: Dana Gentry)

Jeanne Llera speaking at a press conference in July. (Photo: Dana Gentry)

“Show me what happened to my son,” Jeanne Llera pleaded at a news conference in late July where attorneys representing her family waved around a lawsuit they vowed to file that week against Las Vegas Metro Police and the four officers who gunned down 25-year-old Jorge Gomez as he was leaving a June 1 protest. News outlets reported the development. Some said the suit had been filed.

Three weeks later, no suit has been filed.

Assemblyman Edgar Flores, an attorney who represents the family, has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

“I live in Florida so am not sure,” Llera said via text, adding she had just returned to Las Vegas and intended to meet with Flores on Wednesday afternoon.   

At the news conference, Flores said Metro’s failure to train officers on how to respond to people who openly carry weapons was “negligent at its core, at a minimum.  At its worst, it’s very likely what led to the death of Jorge Gomez and other individuals in the state.”

Flores says better training “would have changed the outcome of June 1. It would have meant they would not have engaged him with non-lethal rounds.” 

Metro confirmed it provides officers with no special training. 

“It’s legal, so we don’t do anything,” Metro Officer Lawrence Hadfield told the Current in June. “There’s nothing to train for because it’s legal.”

“It’s very difficult for me to understand it,” said Flores, recalling the Bundy Ranch encounter in which police clashed with self-described militia. 

“It is almost impossible for me to believe after an incident like that law enforcement did not look at themselves,” and examine their training, he said.

“Law enforcement needs to know they can hold themselves accountable and it’s OK.  That’s how you gain the trust of the community,” Flores said. 

The suit was expected to name the four Metro officers who fired 19 shots at Gomez — Sgt. Ryan Fryman, Officer Dan Emerton, Officer Vernon Ferguson and Officer Andrew Locher. It was also expected to allege police used excessive force, denied Gomez medical care, were negligent, and failed to train officers.   

Gomez was no anarchist. He was no thug, according to his mother, who described theirs as a law enforcement family. Gomez’ sister is a graduate of West Point. His father is a K9 officer.  

“He was very passionate about right from wrong,” Llera said at the July news conference in front of the Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas, just feet from where police fired 19 shots, killing her son. “He was not anti-cops or anything like that. He was just anti-corruption.” 

“This is not a family that grew up having any type of hate for law enforcement. In fact, they have the utmost respect for law enforcement,” said Flores.

“I can’t breathe,” Llera said as she removed her mask to speak in the 100-plus degree heat, a seemingly unintentional reminder of George Floyd, the man whose death at the hands of police brought Jorge Gomez out to protest. 

Gomez can be seen openly carrying weapons on a video provided by Metro as he follows orders to leave the protest. He is confronted by a law enforcement officer who appears to fire rubber bullets at Lopez without provocation. Lopez turns and runs, right into an oncoming patrol car of officers headed to the scene of the shooting of one of their own, Officer Shay Mikalonis. Live rounds of fire can be heard within seconds. The video does not show the shooting.   

“We’re not asking for you to make miracles and bring him back. At least show me what happened to my son,” Llera said, breaking down in tears.    

“This entire street was saturated with law enforcement,” Flores said. “And by some error and inconsistencies, not a single individual in this area at the time Jorge Gomez was killed had their body camera on or a body camera on their person. Out of the 13 plus cameras that are on us now, only one single was presented to the community and it cuts off exactly as the live ammunition was fired.”  

“You may request the full video after the OIS (officer involved shooting) has gone through the complete investigative process,” Hadfield told the Current. 

The family asked that anyone who witnessed the shooting or has video reach out via JusticeforJorgeGomez.com.

“They tried to paint him as something he was not,” Flores said.  Police contend Flores approached officers with a weapon pointed in their direction. 

Llera said she was not concerned about her son carrying weapons, adding it was “not out of the norm” given her family’s involvement in law enforcement.  But she acknowledged she is unfamiliar with a series of events involving police encounters with citizens engaged in open carry. 

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, two grandsons, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.