The Metro shooting problem is a serious matter for all of us who live in or visit Las Vegas. Metro is largely an out-of-control gang of thugs. Officer William Mosher, who has killed twice in just five years on the department, may be the worst of the worst. In his testimony in the recent Coroner’s Inquest regarding the shooting of Costco customer/prescription drug user Erik Scott, Mosher came across as an uneducated buffoon. He sounded like a seventh-grade dropout.
Mosher appears to be a robot-like individual who lacks common sense, lacks the ability to make rational decisions rather than just bully people, and someone apparently so insecure with himself that he has to evoke the “tough cop” bully-boy act. Mosher is a frightening individual who should have been taken off the streets by his supervisors long ago. I would hate to have him in my neighborhood. It would be terrible to call 911 and have Mosher show up. How Mosher was allowed to be out there endangering the public day after day is a scary mystery. I think Las Vegas would be a safer place if Officer Mosher was in prison. He is still on “paid administrative leave.” I predict that if he is allowed to return to active duty, he will kill again.
As expected, the coroner’s inquest was a dog and pony show. One of the doctors who treated the decedent during his lifetime behaved as if she thought she was the star of a reality show, or an aging actress auditioning for a potential comeback part, with perfect hair and several big, bright smiles showing off her perfect white teeth. She described her medical practice as a “concierge” practice. It’s as if the solemnity of this hearing was completely lost on her. To her credit, she appeared to be a caring physician, though her demeanor made her appear to be a bimbo.
The Costco security guy (“loss prevention supervisor”), Shai Lierley, who called 911, is even stupider than a typical casino security guard. He repeatedly used security jargon in his testimony, possibly thinking it made him appear important. In reality, he was pathetic. He misused the term “customer service” two or three times in his testimony. Finally, one of the attorneys, or perhaps it was the judge, asked him to clarify what he meant. The Costco bean counters should start saving money for the eventual civil verdict. Having Lierley in charge of anything will not be helpful to Costco — “Negligent hiring, training, and supervision” will undoubtedly be included in the lawsuit against Costco. Lierley is the true catalyst of the tragic events that transpired.
Various “experts” who testified about the efforts to “recover” the missing video did not seem to know much about their supposed areas of expertise, including a woman from the Secret Service. One fool’s “credentials” essentially were having worked on a “help desk” of a computer company. If not so tragic, the whole thing would be laughable. The only competent-appearing person who testified that day was Detective Pete Calos, a Metro homicide investigator.
The computer that controlled the video camera that was positioned to perfectly record the incident supposedly stopped working on July 8, two days before the killing. But it was not promptly repaired or replaced, supposedly because the service tech “most familiar with Costco” was “on vacation.” It was to be repaired the Monday after the killing. However, a civilian Metro employee testified that all he had to do to get it to work was reboot the computer. In fact, they showed video from that camera (one of numerous cameras) recorded about four hours after the killing. The guy in charge of the cameras was the idiotic Lierley.
Metro supposedly made no effort to seize the allegedly faulty computer, instead letting a little mom-and-pop computer shop in Las Vegas (the one with the tech on vacation) try to “repair” it first. The chain of custody was destroyed. There was no accountability as to who had custody of the computer when. Total incompetence by Metro.
There was absolutely no need to escalate the situation as the responding officers did. The decedent hadn’t really done much except allegedly act weird in the store. There was conflicting testimony about whether or not he was even asked to leave the store. From the medical examiner’s testimony and the Costco security idiot’s testimony, the decedent may have been “high” on drugs at the time of his death. But the decedent was accustomed to heavy doses of prescription drugs, so may not have been high at all. If he was in fact high, he should not have been carrying weapons in his alleged condition, concealed permit or not. But he did not pose a realistic threat to anyone until the police made horrible tactical errors, confronting Scott in a crowd with guns drawn when all Scott was doing was peacefully, though reportedly unsteadily, walking out the front door of Costco along with the hundreds of other people being evacuated. The evacuation was another stupid move by Metro; there was no need for it.
Metro really blew this one. I wish the coroner’s jury had understood how stupidly Metro handled the situation. Metro’s tragic mishandling of the entire situation was glossed over by District Attorney David Roger’s staff members who presented the case. Sadly, once Metro created the situation, the result was inevitable. A bit of common sense used by three directly-involved officers could have avoided the confrontation and subsequent killing. Mosher, the senior officer among the three, knew better than to do what he did. He testified that he has had crisis intervention training. Why he chose to ignore this training and risk the lives of innocent bystanders in the stupid way he confronted Scott is beyond my comprehension. Mosher could easily have defused the situation by calming down Lierley and momentarily ignoring Scott; instead, he chose to escalate the situation. Why Mosher behaved this way will forever be between him and his conscience, assuming he has a conscience.
Sadly, it took the jurors only about an hour to arrive at the “Justifiable” verdict. It is an interesting footnote that the two seemingly best jurors, who indicated an understanding of the evidence by their questions of various witnesses, were among three that were “randomly” dismissed from the panel after testimony ended. Though the dismissal (before deliberations begin) of all remaining jurors in excess of seven is the standard procedure in coroner’s inquests, I am curious as to how the “random” selections are made, and will attempt to find out. This seems like an easy way to stack the jury after seeing which ones appear to be skeptical of the police case, and dismissing them.
I doubt if the jurors understood the concept of gross negligence being criminal. It was not in the jury instructions. The brief county code section that deals with coroner’s inquests provides little guidance. Most is probably “tribal knowledge” among the DA’s office and police.
My verdict would have been criminal against Mosher, excusable against the other two officers, assuming a split verdict is even possible. This, too, is not addressed in the code or DA-prepared jury instructions.
I think the Sheriff would probably like to fire Mosher, but is in a bad spot. If Mosher is fired, or even disciplined, it looks bad in the soon-to-be-filed civil case. If Mosher is left on the streets, he will likely kill again. Time will tell. At the very least, I hope the Sheriff puts Mosher on permanent desk duty.
Costco would probably like to fire the loss prevention clown Lierley. But the same problem the Sheriff has applies to Costco. It’ll be tough to fire Lierley now. More than any other person, Lierley has the blood on his hands for this tragedy, through his overzealousness and abject stupidity. Bully Boy Mosher (“let’s pick a fight instead of using my training to defuse this situation”) is a close second to Lierley.
… when the three officers took the stand to testify at the inquest, they said they were never drug- or alcohol-tested after the shooting.
Steve Sisolak, who appears to be a corruption-free County Commissioner, as well as the most level-headed and responsible person currently sitting on the Commission (and is the Commissioner for my District) has proposed drug-testing for officers who shoot people. This would be at least a tiny start towards cleaning up the horrible mess at Metro. Predictably, Chris Collins, the police apologist who heads their union, has publicly stated the police union is against drug testing of officers who shoot people. Disturbing and frightening.
What does this case have to do with advantage play or casinos?
Most of us who have played for a while have had hassles with casino security. We know casino security guards are usually not the brightest bulbs on the tree. Many are among society’s misfits, and have a propensity for gratuitous violence. If casino guards choose to involve the police in whatever dispute they have with a patron, the patron is at the mercy of whatever tales the security people tell the police. Thus, having police routinely believe any story of the guards instead of assessing a situation for themselves is dangerous. When police fail to assess for themselves, as in the case of Officer Mosher’s failure to use good judgment and instead just take the word of a security person, the result can be tragic. This terrible case hits closer to home than many of us might realize at first glance.