I recall my police academy experiences (both of them). As a rookie I learned about police officers who died in fatal shootings such as the Onion Field incident (LAPD). I learned about the Norco Bank Robbery. I learned about Grape Street Park in San Diego and tragedies in other locations. Cops died and other cops learned lessons so they could live, continue to serve, protect their communities and retire ‘somewhat’ intact — physically and emotionally.
I also learned lessons about driving in pursuits and Code 3. I’m certain that every police recruit in the 1980s learned about the
deaths of Canadian tourists at Sahara and Las Vegas Boulevard during a police pursuit. Since then, there have also been multiple police officers killed with operating Code 3 (red lights and sirens). Their names and the details of their tragic deaths are still studied (or should be). Just as importantly, details of the fatal incidents involving non-police individuals should be shared if their demise was the result of a police chase or other action. We shouldn’t just
‘train’ because there was a lawsuit filed either! Several high-profile LVMPD shootings occurred in the last five years.
Trevon Cole was killed 6/11/10. Eric Scott was killed 7/10/10. Stanley Gibson was killed 12/12/11. Two of the three victims were unarmed.
What lessons were learned from these incidents? Now compare this to what the police officers of Metro have learned
after the deaths of their own officers. We want to avoid any mistakes that could have contributed to the deaths of our officers. This is done, in part, by examining officer safety and tactics used.
Shouldn’t the same be done when non-police individuals are killed — especially when the shootings are ‘mistake of fact’ incidents such as when the police believe a suspect has a gun (Cole), they believe they heard a gunshot (Gibson), or when there is excitement, confusion, and conflicting stories (and likely conflicting commands) such as occurred in the shooting of Eric Scott? He was actually the only person actually in possession of a firearm.
I saw a story on Facebook advertising the upcoming 2015 Best of the Badge Gala organized by the LVMPD Foundation. Sponsors are almost identical to those who put Sheriff Lombardo in office. A police sergeant who was severely beaten in June of 2014 will be honored this year. Fortunately, she survived. Various media reports included the following details: Sergeant (Baker) saw Brisbane wearing nothing but shoes and boxer shorts, and attempted to handcuff him, according to a police report.
The first punch caused Baker to stumble, before Brisbane punched her again. He then pinned the sergeant to the ground and kept punching her. Brisbane tried to grab Baker’s gun, threatened to kill her and then ran from the scene before he was apprehended… Exactly one week before (Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo) were killed, a man attacked Baker and beat her badly. He punched her in the face, broke her teeth, grabbed for her gun and threatened to kill her…Two minutes before noon, Baker drove toward the 3800 block of South Nellis Boulevard to investigate a reported burglary in progress. Near Sam’s Town, around
Treasure Avenue and Canal Street, she spotted a man wearing nothing but shoes and boxer shorts. She flashed her vehicle’s lights and siren…
The man knew what to do. She asked him to come to her car and, without prompting, he put his hands on it and spread his feet apart, preparing to be frisked. As the sergeant grabbed his arm to handcuff him, the man swung around and punched her in the face. Described as 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds, the man kept coming with more punches. Baker, described by co-workers as 3 inches shorter and 100 pounds lighter, staggered and fell. The man pounced on her.
Sitting on her chest and pinning her to the sidewalk, he threw roundhouse punches to her face. He blocked her hands from reaching her radio to signal for help. “I’m going to f——g kill you,” he yelled repeatedly. He got off Baker and reached for her holster. Baker fought the man for her gun. He pulled so hard he lifted her off the ground.
But he couldn’t figure out how to unlatch the gun from the holster. He gave up and ran.
Bloodied, her sunglasses shattered, Baker ran to her car and radioed for help. She climbed into her vehicle and chased the man into a cul-de-sac. But he jumped over a wall, and she lost sight of him.
Other officers arrived and found him a few blocks away on East Harmon Avenue. Reports say a single officer captured him. It doesn’t say whether the man resisted.
Baker, spitting pieces of chipped teeth, was treated and released from University Medical Center. She had a cut on her eye, a swollen face and teeth knocked loose. Police found her broken sunglasses and blood spattered on the sidewalk at the scene. They couldn’t find any witnesses.
This incident caught my attention when it occurred. I recognized the name of the suspect (Omar Brisbane) because two of my attentive officers (both were later fired by Sheriff Gillespie) arrested Brisbane for a robbery on the Strip in June of 2010. Maybe if he had gone to prison, instead of experiencing the assembly-line criminal justice system in Las Vegas, he wouldn’t have been able to inflict the horrific beating on Sgt. Baker.
I’m not writing to criticize Baker — just asking about lessons learned by members of the LVMPD. How could the Brisbane contact have been handled to avoid the severe beating that Baker said ‘changed her life’ forever? Baker had the ‘will to survive,’ but she was also very lucky.
There were no other officers assisting her on the stop. There were no witnesses to the beating. The suspect may have committed a PROPERTY crime.
It is easy to have ceremonies to recognize officer performance but it takes courage for leaders to critically review major incidents and share findings to improve safety for everyone. What has Metro done?