Undercurrent

Lawsuit: Metro officers who killed protester may have ‘simply overreacted’

By: - February 19, 2021 3:31 pm
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A screenshot of a video showing Jorge Gomez walking south on Las Vegas Boulevard and before stopping briefly in front of the Courthouse.

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A screenshot of a video showing Jorge Gomez walking south on Las Vegas Boulevard and before stopping briefly in front of the Courthouse.

The four Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers who fired 19 rounds at 25 year-old Jorge Gomez during a Black Lives Matter protest last year “may have simply overreacted” when they heard another officer fire non lethal rounds and saw Gomez  “running with his guns on his person,” according to an amended complaint filed by Gomez’ parents against the police department. 

Police say four officers who were responding to the shooting of Officer Shay Mikalonis near Circus Circus earlier on the evening of June 1 shot Gomez.  The officers, who were assigned to weapons training, were not wearing body cameras.    

Metro has identified the officers who fired at Gomez as Sgt. Ryan Fryman, Officer Dan Emerton, Officer Vernon Ferguson and Officer Andrew Locher.  

Attorneys for Gomez say a fifth officer, John Squeo, instigated the fatal shooting by firing unprovoked non-lethal rounds at Gomez. 

At a news conference Friday, which would have been Gomez’ 26th birthday, attorneys for the family said the videos prove Gomez did nothing to provoke the shooting.   

“He never raised a rifle. He never raised a gun,” attorney Rodolfo Gonzalez said Friday at a news conference, where he showed what he called newly obtained videos of the shooting.

Six videos provided by attorneys for Gomez’ family show the incident from a variety of angles.  

One shows police atop the steps of the Lloyd George Federal Courthouse taking notice of Gomez, who is shown walking from the scene after police told the crowd to disperse.  One officer runs down the steps to confront Gomez.  

Another video shows Gomez walking south on Las Vegas Boulevard and stopping briefly in front of the Courthouse.  He walks out of frame and is then seen running north before he falls and appears to get up again.    

“The surveillance video released today by the Gomez family appears to be the same video that the LVMPD gave to the family’s counsel,” police said in a statement Friday. “The video was originally obtained by the LVMPD and is one piece of evidence that is being evaluated in the ongoing investigation. The LVMPD asks that anyone who may have video of the event please contact the LVMPD.”

The amended complaint says the fact that the four officers who shot at Gomez were normally involved in training rather than patrol  “may have also contributed to them overreacting and using excessive and unreasonable deadly force.”  

The amended complaint says Gomez “did not charge at Officers… .” It says he “was running away in the opposite direction from John Squeo who was shooting him with less than lethal rounds.” 

The complaint goes on to say Gomez, who was openly carrying weapons, in accordance with Nevada law “never verbally threatened anyone, including the involved officers, never pointed a gun at anyone, including at the involved officers, and he never fired his weapon at any point during the incident, nor did he attempt to do so.” 

Police contend Gomez leveled a rifle at police.  

“The heavily armed subject, Jorge Gomez, ignored officer warnings to disperse following the conclusion of a protest — his threatening posture prompted an LVMPD officer to fire beanbag rounds at the subject, whereupon he ran and later raised one of his weapons at additional responding officers,” Metro Assistant Sheriff Chris Jones said at a news conference in June, days after the shooting. 

“He was growing increasingly radicalized. We don’t know why,” Jones said. “We’ve talked with some family members who expressed concerns about that.”

Family members say that’s not true and describe Gomez as a gentle person who was exercising his Second Amendment rights.  Nevada law permits the open carry of weapons.  

Squeo has been employed with Metro since 2014.  He’s been involved in two previous officer-involved shootings, according to police records.  

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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.

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