Jacob Hafter, an attorney who represents the estate and family of D’Andre Berghardt, an unarmed black man that was walking with a suitcase on State Route 157 just outside Red Rock Canyon, wrote a letter to Mr. Wolfson on Tuesday, asking why his office has had the file for the past seven weeks when he has no jurisdiction to hold any proceedings on the matter.
The letter echoes comments that Hafter recently made during an appearance on the Face The Tribune radio show last Friday.
“Our community has approached this killing of an unarmed man with civility and responsibility,” said Hafter. “However, such a response depends on the proper authorities exercise of proper responsibility and management of the investigation. If the government won’t behave in a respectful manner, I cannot see how our community can respect the government, in return,” Hafter continued. “While we were patient for the investigation to be completed, knowing that it was completed on July 2, and we are still waiting for the results of the investigation or the government to take action as a result of the death of an unarmed young man, is simply unacceptable,” said Hafter in an interview with the Tribune.
Hafter, a native of Las Vegas and a judicial candidate for District Court Department 22, is known for his dedication to constitutional rights, governmental accountability and representing those who often do not have a voice. In 2009, Hafter represented a woman who went to the emergency departments of both UMC and Valley Hospital, only to be turned away, resulting in her giving birth to her baby in her home.
While the baby died, Hafter’s advocacy resulted in systematic changes in how UMC triages its emergency room patients.
According to Hafter’s August 26th letter to the DA, the Metropolitan Police Department conducted the investigation into Berghardt’s death.
Once completed, the file was turned over to the DA’s office on July 2.
It appears that the DA still has not completed its review of the file in the seven weeks that he has had the file. The file includes various key pieces of evidence in the case, including the coroner’s report, witness statements and various videos of the event.
Hafter’s letter also suggests that the “BLM officers exceeded their authority to use deadly force” in this case. Previously, it has been suggested that lethal force was necessary because Berghardt entered a Nevada Highway Patrolman’s vehicle where there were various weapons which he could have used against the police or the bystanders. It is unknown whether those weapons were locked up at the time Berghardt entered the vehicle. Hafter’s letter, however, points out that the NHP
officer whose car Berghardt entered did not believe that Berghardt’s presence in the trooper’s car created an imminent danger, as the NHP trooper, unlike the BLM officers, did not discharge his weapon.
“Thus, in this case,” states Hafter in his letter, “the one person who knew whether his firearms were actually secured in the patrol car did not believe that deadly force was necessary as a result of Mr. Berghardt’s entry of the car. Instead, officers from a different agency, unaware of the status or condition of the car or any weapons contained therein (i.e., locked up or unlocked), decided to fire on Mr. Berghardt.” Hafter notes that statistics show that nationally, BLM officers make less than 1,000 arrests a year. Hafter suggests that the lack of experience in detaining and arresting individuals may have caused the BLM officers in this case to be far more aggressive than the situation warranted.
A telephone call placed to the District Attorney requesting comments for this story were not returned on time to be included in this issue of the Las Vegas Tribune.
People in Ferguson have been protesting for weeks the killing of one single resident with that “black, young, unarmed” profile. Not to in any way discredit that situation, but Las Vegas has had such situations with Charles Bush, Trevon Cole, Orlando Barlow, and Swave Lopez, besides a disoriented black war veteran who cost the taxpayers $1.5 million that Las Vegas Police had to pay to the family of Stanley Gibbons after killing him.
“This case is different from Ferguson in that Mr. Berghardt was not a suspect in a crime,” stated Hafter. “In this case, Mr. Berghardt was clearly disorientated and in distress, and the calls made were to help him, and, instead, he wound up dead. While I do not agree with the violent response that the Ferguson community has taken, given the lack of response and accountability we have seen in this case, I can understand the utility of the actions of the citizens of Ferguson,” Hafter stated. “It is a shame that it takes such a drastic community response for the government to be held accountable for their killing of an unarmed human being. I expected more from our community,” Hafter concluded.