Lawyer: Man slain by Vegas police had gun permit
LAS VEGAS (AP) – A lawyer representing the family of a man fatally shot by police at a Las Vegas membership warehouse store denied police reports Monday that the man had pulled out a handgun and pointed it at police.
Erik Scott, 39, had at least one handgun with him at the time of the shooting Saturday, but also had a concealed weapon permit, attorney Ross Goodman said.
“He did not pull a handgun,” Goodman said. “All the witnesses we’ve heard from have said he did not make any threatening gestures, and didn’t do anything that could be construed as acting in a threatening manner.”
Las Vegas police officer Barbara Morgan, a department spokeswoman, said the man pulled a gun from his waistband and pointed it at police before three officers opened fire.
Goodman said he expects that surveillance videos and a coroner’s inquest will show that the shooting near the entrance of a Costco store in the northeast Las Vegas community of Summerlin was neither justifiable or excusable.
The officers were responding to a disturbance call about a man “ripping merchandise apart” inside the store when they confronted Scott as he exited, Morgan said.
Goodman said Scott calmly exited the store with his girlfriend, whose name was not made public.
Police Capt. Patrick Neville told the Review-Journal on Saturday that an officer tapped the man on the shoulder and that Scott spun around and reached for a gun.
“They ordered him to the ground,” Neville said. “He does not comply with that order. He reaches for the weapon, pulls the weapon out … of the waistband.”
The three officers fired multiple times, police said.
The officers, who were not immediately identified, are on paid leave pending a department investigation and a Clark County coroner’s inquest, which had not yet been scheduled.
Cross-examination of witnesses is not allowed during coroner’s inquests of fatal shootings involving Las Vegas police.
Prosecutors make a presentation to a seven-person coroner’s jury that decides if the use of lethal force was justified, excusable or criminal. Critics say only one officer has been found to have acted improperly since 1976.
Scott’s friend, Mike Pusateri, 38, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Scott was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, held a master’s degree from Duke University, and worked as a sales representative for a medical pacemaker manufacturer.
Goodman, a criminal defense lawyer and son of Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, said he didn’t know about Scott’s military and educational background.
He said Scott was with his girlfriend, shopping for pots and pans for their apartment, and he had been text-messaging friends before the fatal confrontation with police.