Once again, coroner’s inquest not open to the public

Very few cops ever start their day hoping to kill someone. Most times a police officer draws his weapon, it’s under duress, with only seconds to make a very tough decision. Most times, most cops get it right.

But it’s also possible for a cop to be high on steroids, or to act like an aggressive bully who has to be “in charge” at all times, to make mistakes, to kill people by accident through bad trigger control, or by escalating a situation into violence unnecessarily.

Clark County’s “coroner’s inquest” process is highly controversial because it almost always results in police officers being found blameless in the shooting deaths of local citizens — a result, primarily, of prescribed jury instructions which require such a finding unless the jury believes police officers acted “with criminal intent,” leaving no room for the jury to rule that officers’ conduct was, for example, unreasonable, causing death unnecessarily, that said officer or officers might therefore appropriately face some consequence short of a murder charge, possibly including removal from the force.

But, while plenty of the police conduct examined in past inquests has been alarming — look up the deaths of Henry Rowe, John Perrin, and Orlando Barlow, for starters — last week’s inquest into the shooting death of West Point graduate Erik Scott by three Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers in broad daylight outside a Summerlin Costco store where he had been shopping earlier this summer may be the highest-profile proceedings of its kind in the valley’s history.

You’d think those in charge of the inquest process, therefore, would have wanted to be on their best behavior in setting this one up. Many expected the inquest to be a sham, of course, “clearing” the officers as a preliminary to the Scott family filing a civil lawsuit and winning hundreds of thousands (millions?) of dollars to be paid up not by Metro or the department’s individual cops, but by the taxpayers — the usual outcome.

And yet, they did it again.

The Erik Scott coroner’s inquest was not open to the public.

Sheriff Doug Gillespie visited us here at the Review-Journal offices on Aug. 3. He acknowledged the importance of an open-to-the-public inquest process to maintain public confidence in that process, and in his department. “I’m not lookin’ at hidin’ anything, nor is my organization,” the sheriff said. That’s why they were going to hold the Erik Scott inquest in the largest available courtroom, so all who wanted to attend could do so, the sheriff vowed.

But that turned out to be the usual pile of crap.

The coroner’s inquest got underway at 10:50 a.m. Wednesday morning, Sept. 22, the first day of Autumn, at the downtown Regional Justice Center. I was there.

“Are you a lawyer?” the uniformed officer at the metal detector asked me, as usual, probably because I wear a necktie.

“No, I’m not a lawyer.”

“Then take off your belt.”

Once I was through all the “wanding” rigmarole, I tried to find the Scott inquest on the big docket board, knowing it ought to be listed in courtroom 16.

I finally gave up and asked at the information desk.

They told me it was in ground floor courtroom 1-B, a courtroom big enough to hold 75 to 80 people.
I entered courtroom 1-B, where about 15 people were watching the proceedings, which were just getting underway, on a closed circuit video screen.

I trooped back to the information desk.

“They’re just watching the proceedings on TV in there,” I said. “I want to attend the actual inquest. Is that in courtroom 16?”

“Only invited people can get in there, it’s not open to the public,” said the older guy in the red checked shirt.

“Are you kidding me?” I asked, taking out a pen and writing down his precise words. “What’s your name?”
The man at the information desk refused to give his name. I asked him to call the head of security for the building. He phoned someone named “George,” who never showed up, although I stood there tapping my foot for more than 12 minutes by the clock.

I finally took the elevator up to courtroom 16-D. I made it through the first set of doors but was then told to leave by a cadre of four armed “marshalls,” before I got through the second set of doors. The one whose nameplate said “Lemke” told me all the seats were full. I said “No problem, I’ll wait till someone leaves, and then take that seat.”

Marshall Lemke replied: “There might be some seats open after the voir dire, but the coroner will decide who gets them, they may not be first come first served, open to the public.”

“OK, let me talk to the coroner,” i said.

He wouldn’t let me talk to the coroner.

Courtroom 16-D, from the brief look I got at it, would appear to be a normal-sized “upstairs” courtroom at the downtown Justice Center, which means it could hold about 32 people, not including the judge, jury, and active attorneys. There were perhaps eight people hanging around in the hallway outside. Add the 15 folks watching on TV downstairs and you get 55 people who were interested in attending the proceedings ion Wednesday morning, Sept. 22.

In other words, ground floor courtroom 1-B, which was open and available, could easily have held everyone who wanted to attend this so-called “public” inquest, with at least 20 seats to spare.

So why wasn’t the inquest opened up to the public, by holding it in the largest available courtroom — possibly courtroom 1-B — as Sheriff Gillespie promised?

Sure enough, those of us who ended up watching part of the proceedings downstairs on TV (we couldn’t see the jury, or much of anything else other than the judge and one witness at a time) saw Justice of the Peace Tony Abbatangelo, the convicted wife-beater who was running this proceeding, look into the camera and announce — just I knew he would — that if any member of the public had any “personal and direct” information and wanted to come forward and testify, they should approach his marshalls with that information, blah blah blah.

Anyone at home watching on the county’s TV channel could have gotten the impression Abbatangelo was addressing a huge courtroom full of members of “the public.” But he wasn’t, of course. Once again, as always, the proceedings “weren’t open to the public,” according to men with guns on their hips. It was “invited guests only!”

Wednesday’s proceedings dealt primarily with the deceased Erik Scott’s use of prescription pain killers, with prosecutors cross-examining his doctors as though they were there to prosecute the deceased, rather than examine the conduct of his killers. Medical Examiner Alane Olson did note, however, that the deceased was shot seven times, five times in the back, with one bullet entering “the underside of the buttocks” and penetrating up through his bowels and bladder.

That is to say, that one of our proud boys in beige shot Erik Scott from behind, in the butt, after he was face-down on the ground, already dying with at least two rounds of .40-caliber through his heart.

But it’s OK; they’ll all be cleared of any wrongdoing, in that secret little courtroom to which members of the public aren’t admitted, because Sheriff Doug Gillespie isn’t “lookin’ at hidin’ anything, nor is my organization.”

That’s why he vowed the Erik Scott coroner’s inquest would be held in the largest available courtroom, so anyone who wanted to could attend. Remember?

32 Comments to “Once again, coroner’s inquest not open to the public”

  1. Dave Says:

    Way to go Vin! Once again you didn’t let the facts get in the way of a very self serving story. Probably the only accurate part of your story is that you didn’t get your way, and a seat to the inquest. Point number one… Find a courtroom that’s big enough for everyone that’s interested in attending the inquest, and I guarantee you it would need to be the likes of the Thomas & Mack Center. Point number two, half the courtroom was filled with Erik Scott’s family and friends, and the other half was filled with people directly related to others that were actually witnesses or directly involved with this tragedy. I think once you accept that there is no courtroom capable of holding this many people and you get over yourself and your self made importance, this might make sense. As for the people that stopped you and gave you information you may not have appreciated. So sorry for that. Maybe if you had gone to the overflow rooms, you would have seen that you would have been in a room full of a whole bunch of other people, including citizens, family members of those involved, officers, and far more people that the 20 or so you though could have just comfortably sat in a courtroom. Once again, why should facts be involved in a story.

    Finally, let’s touch on the public access issue you have. ANYONE who wants to see the proceedings can watch it in it’s entirety on TV, which is EXACTLY the same as sitting in the jury box, if you have something you want to add to the inquest, call Metro, the DA, the TV stations, the courts… choose your poison. The fact is that everyone is still actively seeking information, because the more that comes forward, the more it proves that this was a justifiable shooting. And by the way, if you feel that the family and friends and public are not being heard, Judge Abbatangelo is now well over 1,000 questions being presented to the witnesses, all of which were prepared by the family, their attorney, or citizens. While this situation was horribly tragic, the actions taken by the police officers were justifiable and it’s being proven time and time again by those that testify. Of course you wouldn’t know that because it appears from your article that you have been put under house arrest, all electronics removed, and you have been banished from viewing the proceedings… Or maybe it’s your larger than life ego that’s getting in the way of the facts… once again.

  2. C. Cope Says:

    “I’m not lookin’ at hidin’ anything, nor is my organization.”

    My organization?

    See? That is where it ends. The character of the “organization”. Not the peoples organization. HIS organization.

    Words matter.

  3. Michael O. Kreps Says:

    Vin

    You stated in your column that Metro officers shot Mr. Scott from behind in the butt, after he was face-down on the ground already dying from gunshots through his heart. I don’t know what inquest you were at but that is not the truth. No one reached any conclusion that he was shot after he was on the ground. Maybe you have never shot a weapon because you are ignorant of how fast shootings occur. From the time of the first shot to the last probably lasted no more than 5 seconds. When Mr. Mosher took is first two shots the officers also were in the process of shooting their weapons. They shot as Mr. Scott was turning and had his back exposed to them. It makes all the sense that Mr. Scott was shot in the back. They did not say to themselves oh Mr. Scott turned his back so I am going to shoot. That is ignorant to think that is how it occured.

    Mr. Scott brought this on himself by carrying a weapon while on drugs that impaired his mental state and then by failing to comply with Officer Moshers commands and then lastly by pulling his weapon in a threatning manner which would lead one to believe he was going to shoot.

    Officer Mosher should be commended for making sure that he, his fellow officers and innocent bystanders were not shot at by Mr. Scott.

    You are just mad that you did not get a seat at the table inside the court room and instead had to watch it on televison. Why do you have to see the jurrors? You weigh the evidence and fairness of the hearings on the witnesess and people asking the questions. Stop acting like a putz, spoiled brat newsman.

    Shame on you Vin, Michael O. Kreps, Las Vegas, Nevada

  4. liberranter Says:

    Would that be “Officer” Michael O. Kreps? If so, please have the decency to say so.

  5. GunRight4us Says:

    All I can say is that if MY son had been MURDERED like this… I would personally hunt down and butcher like hogs the men responsible. There would be no power on this earth that prevent me from slaughtering each and every one of them.

    It’s time We The People starting pushing back! It’s time cops had fear of the people the propose to Lord-it over.

  6. Paul Schmehl Says:

    Michael, please explain how a bullet can travel from a man’s buttocks vertically through the body cavity and end up in the chest while he is standing up. That would be quite a feat of legerdemain. I’m hard pressed to figure out how you could get a bullet to travel that way if you are standing up while shooting unless the person you are shooting has their buttocks elevated above their body. IOW, head on the ground, buttocks up in the air (on their knees, possibly.) (And yes, I am an experienced shooter, having shot numerous handguns and owning two Sigs.)

    BTW, you have misrepresented the inquest testimony. I’m sure you know that. Witnesses have reported three separate shooting sequences; first Mosher, then the second officer and finally the third. And multiple witnesses have testified that Erik was already down when the second and third officer fired.

    Officer Mosher is an out of control police officer who does not hesitate to shoot given the slightest excuse to do so. His understanding of tactics is so poor that a simple civilian like me can understand that the tactics he chose in this case were the worst possible choice he could have made. He should no longer be serving in law enforcement. And any LEO who supports him should be ashamed of themselves.

  7. G3Ken Says:

    “Mr.” Kreps, save your nonsense for someone who’s buying it and most of the American public aren’t buying any of the crap you folks are selling.

    Mr. Scott “brought it on himself” for being foolish enough to believe that the Nazis that pass for police wouldn’t view him as one of the bad guys for carrying a firearm legally.

    The police will need the help of the public soon enough and they’re squandering our faith and goodwill. It’s time they stop seeing an armed populace as the enemy and maybe exercise a little restraint before going off half-cocked.

    Lastly, you stated, in part, that he “brought it on himself” by failing to COMPLY with the officer’s COMMANDS. That’s part of the problem. A bunch of undereducated thugs put on a badge and love to throw around words like ‘command’ and ‘comply’. I’ve got news for you, free men follow the law, but we aren’t your subjects to be lorded over. You may have fooled this sham “inquest”, but you aren’t fooling the rest of us.

  8. Cory C. Clark Says:

    I read your article in the Sunday paper about Erik Scott. I am proud of your actions towards finding out the truth in this matter, as I smell a rat. Number One: I can’t believe there are no video cameras that recorded the event; kind of like Nixon’s old tapes that get “accidently” erased. Number two: It was first reported that he took the painkiller Hydrocodone, but then it got changed to “high levels of morphine!” I am a Registered Nurse and the difference in the two is like drinking a beer or drinking a fifth! Far as I know when they do drug tests, it only reads positive or negative for opiods and doesn’t distinguish what actual drug or pill is involed. Besides, I have many patients that are on so great a dosage of painkillers that it is unreal and they still claim “it doesn’t do anything,” yet the same dosage would knock out any “dry” individual, so the claim that he was on “a lethal dose of morphine” is not believeable or helpful; if so, how could he come to Costco and shop and walk and check out products, etc. Why was it swithced from hydrocodone to morphine?…which one was it?? Kind of fishy to me. Number three: What?, no gun in his hand or on the groung even? The gun was found still in the holster. I agree however that it is not quite the right thing to do, to go to Costco with two guns and claim it’s still ok. But, what I think is that they the guy respects police and was merely trying to pull out his holster with the gun still in it to satisfy the police, that he was ok. I smell a rat when they color him a drug-crazed maniac.

  9. Jim Jernigan Says:

    Cowardly Cops around the country hide behind the alleged danger of their occupation. In reality, being a police officer is one of the safest occupations; the most dangerous is a long haul trucker. Check the U.S. Dept. Commerce statistics for workplace injury and death. These pieces of human refuse, police, are all critically affected with “little man” syndrome. They relish the day when they get to show their power by injuring or killing someone. Cops don’t protect and serve, they injure and kill. They are scum.

  10. Michael O. Kreps Says:

    No I am not a police officer. I retired as the Special Agent in Charge of the NASA Officer of Inspector General. I listened to every day of the inquest. Vin either lied or is relying on other information not presented by the Coroner to state the police shot Mr. Scott in the back while on the ground.

    Liberranter have you been watching the inquest.

    This is the most irresponisble commentating I have heard in a long time. Vin needs to retract his statement.

  11. liberranter Says:

    No I am not a police officer. I retired as the Special Agent in Charge of the NASA Officer of Inspector General.

    Whatever. It all adds up to “agent of the State,” which has come to be synonymous with “cannot be trusted to tell the truth if his/her life depended on it.”

    That aside, your rambling screed is irrelevant to Vin’s central question: WHY wasn’t the coroner’s inquest open to the public? If Sheriff Gillespie, who so articulately made clear that he was “not lookin’ at hidin’ anything, nor [was his] organization,” had nothing to hide, why the closed proceedings? If he had a coherent, legally plausible reason for holding closed proceedings, why did he not make these reasons public?

    Since all you’ll probably offer in the form of a response is a lie and a tap dance typical of agents of the State, I’ll spare Vin’s readers and answer the question for you.

    Doug Gillespie, a perfect representation of the badged, uniformed criminal class that has co-opted “law enforcement” in this day and age, was not about to allow himself or his “law enforcement officers” to be held accountable to the rule of law, an outcome that any HONEST AND OPEN coroner’s inquest would have demanded. Ergo, he and his band of uniformed Janissaries pulled out all the stops to shut out the public and obfuscate the truth.

    It would be presumptuous of me to speak for Vin, but I can say that if I were in his place, your demands for an “apology” or “retraction” would be met with “fat chance.” And that’s a much more polite response than they deserve.

  12. John Brook Says:

    Well, Nevada is not alone. Police killings of rather harmless citizens continue unabated around the country. Recently, we here in Washington State were witness to an execution of a 60 year old wood carver, who didn’t drop his carving knife quickly enough. While LEOs consider any metallic object the size of a pin or larger a lethal weapon, most cooks, wood carvers and other trades people consider knives tools of their trade, not deadly weapons, and probably wouldn’t know how to use one as such, anyway. With several overly large men screaming at you, at the top of their lungs, to drop your weapon, I can see how confusion would happen. What weapon, who are you talking to? I don’t have a weapon? What’s going on here? Help. Protect me from those goons.

    Regardless, one dead wood carver, and September may go down as the bloodiest month in history, as civilians were picked off like sheep around the state. And, of course, the LEOs were all exonerated.

  13. Michael O. Kreps Says:

    Liberranter: I agree with Vin remarks about there should have been a court large enough to accomodate a larger audience. But this inquest is open to the public from the standpoint that you can sit in front of your television and watch it. I have watched it from day one.

    My disagreement with Vin is that there is no evidence that has been presented that showed the officers shot Mr. Scott in the back while he was on the ground. Vin is wrong about that statement as it is based on no facts. Vin knows it and now won’t stand up and admit he was in error. That is hardly something I would have expected from Vin. He always seemed to me a man of honor and principle.

    I am well aware there are shootings by police that are not justified. It is not the case with Mr. Scott. This is a tragic case in which Mr. Scott, mentally impared because of medication and the fact he pulled a weapon and pointed it in the direction of the Officer and bystanders. Did you know he had morphine in his system that was of a lethal dose if not for his tolerance?

    I have been retired since 2004 so I am hardly an agent of the state whatever that means. It is obvious you have a bias against police and anyone in Law enforcement. But you should concentrate on the facts in the case of Mr. Scott to draw your conclusion.

  14. Paul Schmehl Says:

    Michael, you write, “My disagreement with Vin is that there is no evidence that has been presented that showed the officers shot Mr. Scott in the back while he was on the ground. Vin is wrong about that statement as it is based on no facts. Vin knows it and now won’t stand up and admit he was in error. That is hardly something I would have expected from Vin. He always seemed to me a man of honor and principle.”

    You and I are not watching the same inquest. There have been multiple witnesses that have testified that Erik was “down”, “on the ground” or “falling to the ground” when the second and third officers shot him. If you’re not honest enough to admit that, Vin owes you nothing but the courtesy of allowing you to continue to post lies in his blog.

    Now, if you want to argue that the preponderance of the testimony points to Erik still standing when the two officers fired, then all you have to explain is the bullet that entered the buttocks and traveled vertically through the body cavity ending up in the chest area.

  15. Bruce D Says:

    Inspector General huh. Maybe check those “O” rings a little closer. This is just another example of Government organizations attempting to ensure there is nobody around who might laugh or otherwise embarrass the sham proceedings. This in the age of “transparency”. In Canada, we had a young fellow shot in the back of the head while he was being “released” a number of years ago. His original crime was a beer in public. A special constable testified that the splatter pattern did not match the testimony of the shooting officer. The result? The testifying constable was subsequently disciplined and the shooting officer now has a cushy desk job. These are just like public meetings to allow the public to state then concerns and voice their opposition after which of course the high mucky mucks do whatever the hell the wanted to do in the first place. It’s not unique to Nevada (I wish it were). Western democracies are growing increasingly unresponsive to the electorate.

  16. miguel kreps Says:

    no proof he was shot in the back on the ground? coroner testifying he was shot in the back and butt? mulitple eye witnesses testified to it as well.. funny how only costco employees and law enforcement or law enforcement wannabees testified otherwise. if telling someone to drop it and then shooting someone for reaching for it wasnt enough…then go ahead and add shooting him in the back after he was twitching/convulsing down on one knee falling face first with clearly no weapon in hand and not a threat… and if you wanna dispute that then go back and watch the proceeding not what you read on a summed up version.

  17. Michael O. Kreps Says:

    Bruce

    Have you even watched the Inquest? Did you hear all the citizens who were at the COSTCO during the incident? Are they all telling lies to help the police coverup this tragic event? My beef with Vin is over one point he made and that was that the police shot Mr. Scott in the back while he was on the ground. That is untrue from all the testimony. Vin needs to walk that statement back or is integrity is in question. Plus he may be looking at a major lawsuit by the police officers he slandered. But I am sure he like the New York Times reporters will try to hide behind the freedom of the press rulings every time they disclose a secret that gets our military members killed. His boss Sherm Frederick doesn’t even have the guts to write a retraction on Vin’s statement. Next time you need a police officer call your neighbor for help.

    And what does the incident in Canada have to do with this?

    I do agree with you that the western governments are growing increasingly unresponsive to the electorate.

  18. liberranter Says:

    It is obvious you have a bias against police and anyone in Law enforcement.

    Your point being…?

  19. Michael O. Kreps Says:

    Liberranter-

    How about acting like a jurror when you evaluate this case?

    Did you reach the same conclusion that Vin reached that the police shot Mr. Scott in the back while he was on the ground? If so please tell me what the evidence or testimony was to that affect?

    I have read Vin’s commentary for the last four years and have agreed with most of what he has said. I just don’t agree with his statement that the police murdered Mr. Scott. There is no evidence to support his statement. Is that too hard for you to get.

    From your friendly “Agent of the state”. Only in the movies Pal.

  20. Brett Says:

    There is absolutely evidence that Scott was shot on the back despite already being on the ground (or near to); you have to be utterly oblivious, or invested in exonerating the LVPD, to conclude otherwise.

    Scott was shot in the underside of the buttocks. That shot left an upward wound track. Unless Scott was really really tall, or all of the officers were really really short, the only possible explanation for those facts is that Scott was shot while he was prone or near-prone.

  21. P. Del Vecchio Says:

    Vin:
    It is increasingly more difficult to attempt to believe or trust the Sheriff and his police dept.
    Although it happened just prior to the last election for sheriff, I consider it to be the way these guys operate placing themselves exempt from the law.
    At the time, a police detective by the name of Shiela Huggins was arrested for the second time DUI while on duty, in a police vehicle. According to the RJ, she was fined aroud $700 and told to stay out of trouble for six months. The first offense was grounds for immediate termination! At the time, I tried writing letters to the RJ, made several calls to MADD, etc. If I or anyone else would show up to work for a desk job drunk, we would be terminated immediately. What if Det. Huggins was in an accident with a school bus on on any of her 2 DUI arrests? I think she would not only have been fired, but also would have been sent to jail.
    I have zero trust nor respect for the police as a result of this incident. I have spoken with many law enforcement people from all over and they all had the same surprised, disgusted look because this is what people think about law enforcement in general. Sorry for the run on sentence.
    The coroner’s inquest prior to the Scott case was a travesty. Many people are as a result, completely disgusted and distrustful of Metro.

    Thank you,
    Pat Del Vecchio

  22. Vin Says:

    There are only two likely ways to fire a bullet so that it enters from the “underside of the buttocks” (not the top of the buttocks) and then travels upward through the intestines, as per the medical examiner’s testimony in this case. A) You have to shoot the victim from behind as he lies flat on the ground or else as he is flying through the air horizontally away from you, with his feet pointing more or less toward the shooter, or B) you have to lie between the victim’s legs and shoot upward.

    Only example “A” matches the rest of the testimony in this case. In fact, all reasonably credible testimony agreed the first officer shot Erik Scott two times from the front, whereupon the second and third police officers shot him five times in the back, as he was falling or after he had fallen — recklessly, I would argue, at a location where they were virtually surrounded by innocent parties who had been flushed out of the store by order of these same officers.

    It is not true that “No one reached any conclusion that he was shot after he was on the ground.” I reached that conclusion, based on the medical examiner’s testimony.

    It “all happened so quickly” that no one can be held separately responsible for firing those five rounds into his back?

    Imagine with me a uniformed police officer is in your home without your permission and without any warrant, acting strangely, possibly due to an adverse reaction to a prescription drug. You — a citizen with no special police authority — arrange to have him flushed out via a fake fire alarm, and stand waiting for him in your front yard, with your gun drawn. The unsteady officer, who is wearing his sidearm but has never yet threatened anyone with it, emerges from your front door. You aim your drawn handgun at the officer’s chest (a crime called “assault,” as I read the statute books.) You shout “Get down! Get down! Don’t do it!” and then — as he moves his hand to his belt, though he never gets his pistol OUT of his holster — you shoot him twice through the heart because he has not immediately complied with your commands.

    Then, either after he is on the ground, or as he’s spinning and falling away from you, you shoot the uniformed officer five more times in the back.

    You’re telling me all will be forgiven because “it happened so fast” — that you won’t face some rather intense and sarcastic questioning from a D.A., asking you, “Why were you in such a rush to get him out of the house and under your drawn gun?” and then “How about after you fired the third shot into his back? You still felt he was a threat to you? Why did you feel the need to fire the sixth round? How about the seventh?”

    You’re telling me you will be questioned in a far less aggressive and hostile manner in a hearing to which you’ll be free to wear your own sidearm (though anyone else wishing to attend will be disarmed) after spending two months on PAID leave from your job — that you won’t be questioned after experiencing several weeks or months in leg irons and an orange jump suit?

    Everyone knew these cops would be cleared the minute it turned out Erik Scott was on prescription painkillers. Since the jury was instructed to do otherwise only if the officers “had criminal intent” — since jurors were given no option to rule “The officers’ conduct recklessly escalated the situation” — the jury obeyed their instructions.

    Yes, Erik Scott did many stupid things that day. For one thing, he should have left the store when asked to do so by the manager — despite the fact CostCo neither had nor has any prominent “No Firearms” signs posted, as I believe they’re required to do by law if they wish to enforce such a policy, notwithstanding their highly technical and somewhat silly claim to be “not open to the public.”

    But the lede police officer ordered the CostCo manager to flush Scott and 50-odd other customers out the front door at the same time, vastly increasing the chances those other customers could be used as hostages or caught in a crossfire. Why not reject the suggestion of a store evacuation (a decision made before there was any “crisis”), instead waiting for backup, then simply entering the store and calmly (albeit warily) talking to Scott as he waited in line with his shopping cart and his girlfriend?

    Slightly more dangerous for the officers, perhaps. Far less dangerous to all the other customers.

    It was the police officer’s own earlier decision to order a store evacuation that forced the “split second decision” to shoot, which is now submitted as though it arose from circumstances beyond the officer’s control. For thus forcing the entire sequence of events to speed up and escalate out of control the officer “should be commended”?

    Where is the statute that says we must instantly obey every shouted command of a police officer, and the punishment for failing to do so is instant death? Why is the public now informed that a “license to carry a concealed weapon” actually now constitutes a “license to be made to lie face down on the ground, to be handcuffed and disarmed until police are confident they have everything under control”?

    The main purpose of the Second & 14th amendments is to retain our power to resist government authority should it someday become excessive or oppressive — a day which appears to approach ever closer. Where would we be today if George Washington et al. had agreed to be handcuffed and disarmed until the Redcoats had everything “sorted out to their liking” and decided whether to return the rebels’ arms . . . unloaded?

    Finally, it’s absurd to contend I’m “mad” because I “wasn’t able to get into the courtroom.” I sit on the editorial board of the Review-Journal, and have for 18 years. This year, as every election year. Sheriff Gillespie, D.A. David Roger, and Justice of the Peace Abbatangelo have visited us, seeking our endorsements. For any member of our editorial board to call and get through to any of these fellows to arrange “credentials” to the inquest would have been no great undertaking, even if Erik Scott’s father had not extended a personal invitation for me to sit with him in the group of seats reserved for “family,” as in fact he did.

    The point of going down to the courthouse without “pulling rank” in that manner, without “demonstrating that I’m some big shot,” is to find out how an average member of the public is treated when attempting to enter this supposedly “public” proceeding. No reporter who’s waved in because he’s been issued the “proper badge” is likely to have any IDEA how average members of the public are treated, and will therefore be unable to report that.

    Following Sheriff Gillespie’s assurances, I really expected things would be different this time. But no. The habit of requiring “tight control” outweighs even the public relations value of a truly open courtroom. I fail to see the folks thus hiding behind metal detectors and armed marshals at a ratio of one per each 5 “disarmed invited guests” as particularly courageous souls. Like an army of occupation, they are increasingly terrified of the very populace they govern.

    The statists always tell us if we “don’t like the police, try doing without them.” But they never tell to what one state out of 50, or to what one county out of thousands, we can move to accomplish that. They dare us to do a thing which they themselves will never allow us to do.

    However, I certainly am glad to hear Mr. Kreps is no longer an “agent of the state.” So we won’t have to pay ruinous taxes to provide him a pension in excess of what the average American worker earns, every year for the rest of his life, for his vital services in helping to launch an endless succession of scientifically worthless public-relations Space Porkies for an agency that had achieved its only stated purpose and thus should have been shut down in the mid-1970s?

    Thank heaven for small favors.

    — V.S.

  23. Josh Says:

    Keep ’em coming, Vin!

  24. Michael O. Kreps Says:

    Vin

    My only beef with your analysis of the shooting is your statement that the police officers shot Mr. Scott in the back while he was face down on the ground. You say you reached that conclusion based on the medical examiners testimony. Are you a forensics expert in wound ballistics analysis? Why didn’t the Medical Examiner state in her testimony that Mr. Scott was on his back on the ground when the second and third police officers shot? I am not an expert in wound analysis and am basing my opinion (not fact like you stated in your column) on what I heard from those who testified. Not one witness stated that Mr. Scott was on the ground when the shooting occurred. If you therory is correct don’t you think one witness would have said that Mr. Scott was on the ground and the police were still shooting. Some of the witness testimony was that Mr. Scott after initally shot was turning to his right staggering and falling which would have exposed Mr. Scott’s back and his buttocks in a upward direction. Very easily a bullet could have struck his buttocks in an upward direction. My theory and opinion.

    I wish they would have had an expert in wound analysis at the Inquest and if Mr. Scott and his attoney believe like you they should hire one to determine if “one of our proud boys in beige” shot Mr. Scott in the back from behind in the butt, after he was face-down on the ground, already dying with at least two rounds of .40-caliber through his heart”. You wrote it as if the second and third officers shot Mr. Scott in cold blood and that is amaturish reporting unless you want to write for the National Enquirer. Oh, remember one officer who stated he did not know who got shot initally.

    The second and third officers were facing Mr. Scott’s left side. They testified they observed Mr. Scott pull a gun and point it in the direction of the first officer and bystanders believing there was immediate danger. Once they articlulated that, they shot Mr. Scott in the back which was center mass to them. You might not think that is not right however that his justified. Nobody said you have to wait for a person to pull is gun, point it at you and make sure the finger is on the trigger before you shoot a suspect. Vin you would be the first to die in a gunfight if you reacted that way. Keep in your thought process that the analysis of the threat was less than a second and the entire shooting occured in less than 4 seconds.

    Your belief that the officers should have entered the store to handle the situation would have resulted in less risks than what occured. Yet it may have produced the same results. We both don’t know however the police decided this would be the best way to do it.

    Do you think Mr. Scott should have resisted the police commands that day because the government has become so oppressive? Comparing Mr. Scott to General Washington’s resistance to the Redcoats is absurd and comical? We are not even close to the people taking over the country from the tyrannical leaders?

    I worked for seven years for NASA. Prior to that I worked for the Dept of Defense Inspector General and did unimportant things like five years conducted investigations of companies both foreign and domestic who sold counterfeit aircraft parts to commercial and military aircraft.

    Vin, I hope everyone in the United States buys a gun. We should all arm ourselves. But you should not be carrying a weapon while using the type of drugs and the amounts found in Mr. Scott’s blood stream. His mental state was impared and this was a major contributing factor to the shooting.

    Vin, you assumption about what the Metro police officer did and their state of mind that day, portraying them as killers is just wrong. This was not WACO pal.

    Lastly read your column and yes you were upset you did not get a seat.

  25. Michael O. Kreps Says:

    Hey people:

    I have enjoyed all your opinions and am looking forward to this going to a civil trial in federal court. I hope Mr. Scott and his lawyer hire the best wounds ballistics expert they can find. This might settle the discussion of whether Mr. Scott was shot as Vin states, in the back and on the ground.

    And from Vin’s belief that the Redcoats and the tyrannical government may becoming so oppresive soon let me know when we mount up. I am in if it is the Redcoats again.

  26. Paul Schmehl Says:

    Michael O. Kreps writes “My only beef with your analysis of the shooting is your statement that the police officers shot Mr. Scott in the back while he was face down on the ground. You say you reached that conclusion based on the medical examiners testimony. Are you a forensics expert in wound ballistics analysis? Why didn’t the Medical Examiner state in her testimony that Mr. Scott was on his back on the ground when the second and third police officers shot? I am not an expert in wound analysis and am basing my opinion (not fact like you stated in your column) on what I heard from those who testified. Not one witness stated that Mr. Scott was on the ground when the shooting occurred. ”

    I can only come to one conclusion now. You are a liar and an idiot. Your claim that no one testified that Erik was on the ground or falling to the ground when the second and third officer fired is directly refuted by witness testimony. You clearly did not watch the inquest. (I watched all six days.) That makes you a liar.

    Your claim that he was not on the ground is plainly refuted by the medical examiner’s (not coroner’s) testimony that one bullet entered his buttocks and traveled vertically through his bladder, emptying its contents, through the abdominal cavity and came to rest in the thoracic area of Erik’s chest. If you can’t see that Erik could NOT have been standing up when that shot was fired, then you are an idiot.

  27. Chris Mallory Says:

    “Oh, remember one officer who stated he did not know who got shot initally(sic). ”
    Did this officer fire his gun? If so he should be on trial. If his situational awareness was so poor that he didn’t know who was shot, then he had no business firing his weapon.

    “Nobody said you have to wait for a person to pull is gun, point it at you and make sure the finger is on the trigger before you shoot a suspect. Vin you would be the first to die in a gunfight if you reacted that way. Keep in your thought process that the analysis of the threat was less than a second and the entire shooting occured (sic) in less than 4 seconds. ”
    I do expect government employees who are paid to take the risks to wait until they clearly see a weapon in hand and aimed at them. That is why they make the big bucks, get to retire after 20 years, and draw the outrageously large pensions. If they don’t like the risks, they are free to quit and get a job doing productive work. Yeah, yeah, I know, call someone else the next time I “need” a cop. Well, in my 41 years of life, I have never needed a cop and don’t see that changing.

  28. George Le May Says:

    It was refreshing to read Vin’s accurate real world update on events
    at courthouse, blocking everyone except those ‘ invited people ‘.
    Boy did Sheriff Gillespie give a different projection on the radio
    talk show with Heidi Harris. I gotta wonder about missing Costco
    video tapes, it’s kind of reminiscent of Jim Gibbons affair with cocktail
    waitress Chrissy Mazzeo in the parking garage conveniently missing when then
    Sheriff Bill Young ran LVMPD.
    The other item Vin pointed out is the multiple shots in the backside
    of Erik Scott, which was unclear in other reports. Did it really take
    a Saint Valentines Day barrage of bullets to make sure he’s down for
    the count. I assume the cops resisted a good final kick to the torso to
    assure expiration.
    George Le May

  29. Michael O. Kreps Says:

    Paul

    I never said I was an expert in wound analysis expert. Look above where I state that. I only said there was no evidence presented in the inquest which I also watched that stated Mr. Scott was on the ground when two police officers shot him. I agree he was falling but that doesn’t mean he was not a threat to the officers and bystanders.

    And to Chris who stated government employees should wait until they are pointed at before they can shoot. Sure way to die.

  30. Bruce D Says:

    Michael O. Kreps Says

    “Nobody said you have to wait for a person to pull is gun, point it at you and make sure the finger is on the trigger before you shoot a suspect. ”

    Hmm with the number of cops killing people, sometimes totally unarmed people, does that apply to defending yourself when a cop shows up to question you? I don’t believe it should, and it shouldn’t apply to the cops doing it to you either but – as you have pointed out – that’s the way they do it.

  31. Brett Says:

    “You say you reached that conclusion based on the medical examiners testimony. Are you a forensics expert in wound ballistics analysis?”

    A highly technical understanding of ballistics and forensic pathology is entirely unnecessary to appreciate that it’s flatly impossible for a bullet to strike someone in the ass and then travel upwards through the abdominal cavity unless (a) the target towers over the shooter or (b) the target was shot while at least partially prone. Since there’s no indication that Mr. Scott was disproportionately tall or that any of the officers involved in the shooting were disproportionately short, the only conclusion that fits the facts is that Mr. Scott was shot while at least partially prone — i.e., that he was shot from behind, while he was on the ground, as Vin stated.

    Beg, borrow, or steal a clue from somewhere, please. You’re managing only to diminish my already-low opinion of law enforcement.

  32. Mark Matis Says:

    This is why I thank God every time he sends another one of these where they belong.

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