but he didn’t get to see the end of that day—neither did his young son
nor his wife. I am unaware of any other double-murder/suicide
incidents in the history of the LVMPD. They are indeed, quite rare.
Unfortunately, these incidents do continue to happen and one occurred
just last week in Utah. A police officer killed his wife, two
children, and his mother-in-law before killing himself. The media has
dutifully documented that these horrific incidents happened, but
doesn’t anyone else care to try to find out why?
I understand that it is extremely ‘sensitive’ to ask tough questions
and be willing to internalize answers we might not want to hear. The
questions include: Why did this happen? Could we possibly have
prevented it? Were there any warning signs? It is also very
‘uncomfortable’ to ask the hard questions about fatal shootings by the
police or shootings that kill police officers (i.e., Sgt. Henry
Prendes and others), but professional police departments MUST do this!
The police must learn from tragic incidents and share what they have
learned (at least internally), or they are bound to be repeated. The
role of the public is to keep asking questions about their police
departments and not accept a ‘blackout’ of information. Nobody is
‘talking’ about this one year later. This was a Metro Family tragedy
and it does not help to bury the problems.
What is it that drives a man to the point of destroying everything
that means the most to him in his life? It is one thing to suffer from
depression or other problems and no longer want to live. But how does
a person’s thinking get so warped that self-destruction turns outward?
Hundreds of police officers, soldiers and other emergency responders
commit suicide every year. This is now being recognized as a national
epidemic. As individuals they may have lost their self-esteem, lost
their pride, and lost their hope for a positive future. Suicide is a
huge problem but people are working to prevent it. I just learned of a
program in California called Safe Call Now where concerns can be
reported and emergency responders can receive help.
I have read that some individuals feel that this world is so horrible
and they love their families so much that they cannot leave them on
this earth. This theory seems to suggest that, whatever the catalyst
to destroy oneself, the offender rationalizes that he is protecting
his family and that they will ‘all be together.’ I am personally
bothered by this explanation and wonder how a person can get to this
point of desperation…but I can understand that we don’t all
experience the sequence of traumatizing events (or ongoing issues)
that Hans Walters may have faced. The sequence of events or cumulative
effect over a period of time can weaken a person. Does a person become
so overloaded that what seems to be a manageable stressor causes them
There is also that school of thought of ‘going down in a blaze of
glory’ and that seems to suggest that someone was angry at the world
(or employer) or had intense frustration over something else. The
Walters family tragedy actually did involve a fire and an apparent
attempt to destroy EVERYTHING in that home! A bomb squad was called
out to his police station to ‘clear’ his desk and locker. I found that
to be a little unusual — did he leave a message causing safety
concerns? We don’t know because the investigation was either not
complete or information has been withheld by authorities.
I had reporters contact me after the release of the Henderson Police
Department ‘incident log.’ I was sent a copy of the report from the
media because my name was in the report. I call it a ‘log’ because I
don’t consider it to be an actual ‘investigation report’ for many
reasons and I explained them to the reporters.
The interest of the media suddenly waned as they were influenced by
their supervisors or maybe Metro’s media-control machine. The interest
dissipated even further when the LVMPD and HPD ‘conveniently’ released
the 9-1-1 audio to the public three months later. Keep in mind,
Sheriff Gillespie and other administrators could have listened to the
recording the day of the incident! They could have known what was said
from the very beginning. They could have announced that a formal
investigation and report would be released later, rather than allow
speculation to continue by not addressing the phone call.
It is likely that nothing positive to the Gillespie administration
will come out of this tragedy. The release of the phone call does not
explain the shootings — it only explains who committed the acts! It
also inflames passions because of the intensity of the matter. Maybe
some passions should also be inflamed about the organizational
environment in which this occurred!? Once you get ‘out’ of favor at
Metro you don’t have much of a chance to recover. Hans had fallen out
There is evidence everywhere that Metro has practiced ‘situational
transparency,’ They still tell us only what they want to tell us. They
don’t tell us what they don’t want to tell us. They delay telling us
things that they should tell us. Gillespie won’t even acknowledge the
Las Vegas Tribune and this organization is not even listed on the
Public Information Office’s ‘media distribution’ list!
I know that the LVMPD has failed to release information related to the
Walters family tragedy. They might argue that the information is not
for ‘public’ distribution (but the HPD put the name of the mental
health counselor in the report). I don’t really consider myself to be
a ‘reporter’ but I do write a column and America gives us the freedom
to have an opinion and express it. I think I am going to start making
my own requests and then see if I can find an attorney to go after
Metro when they don’t follow the law.
I’ve written columns in February and May on this incident. I have
almost exactly the same questions. Don’t be fooled by the whitewash.
Instead of attempting to find a ‘cure,’ the focus was to cover and
conceal. Hans did have ‘work-related’ problems that may have escalated
up to the point of his abrupt transfer to graveyard. So even if the
public does not have a right to know some answers…isn’t it still the
sheriff’s responsibility to formally announce that someone, somewhere,
somehow… did some follow-up?
There was a clear sequence of problems and escalation of problems that
Hans was experiencing because of the supervisors that he worked for.
Captain Charles Hank extended Hans’ probation as a lieutenant and this
was unjustified. In 2010, Hank was in the news for wife-beating, but
he had the time to harass the rest of us. I guess when you are having
problems at home you might carry your attitude over to work. Hank also
claimed that Walters was ‘subversive’ for being fair and supporting
his troops — against the unjustified attacks by Hank.
I know that Hans had made complaints to Internal Affairs/Office of
Employment and had visited those offices. I know that he recommended
that I go make my complaints and he made the same recommendations to
other people he supervised. None of us saw any ‘improvements’ in the
way we were being treated. We pretty much had to settle for his advice
to ‘save everything’ and hope that we could have our concerns
addressed in the future. Emails about these matters have been ‘saved,’
but Hans is gone and his knowledge of what was going on to him and
others can no longer come out as testimony.
Hans also told me (repeatedly), “Captain Fasulo is not trying to fire
you”…but this is exactly what Fasulo had orchestrated — a contrived
termination case! Fasulo lied to Walters! He also told me that he was
just trying to make it until September when he would have the 20 years
that he needed for a retirement and one of the last things that he
said was, “Norm, wait until we get to court.”
A year after the tragedy we still do not know what was in the
‘note(s)’ or on the computers or on the cameras or in the address
book, or on his desk, or in his locker or what emails he had sent or
received. We don’t know if anyone even read what he wrote in his steno
notebooks… the report indicated there were almost a dozen of them.
We don’t know if a ‘psychological autopsy’ was considered. I guess we
just do know that he did it and we are not supposed to ask any
What we do know is that Henderson detectives talked to a close friend
who is also a police officer. They talked to a lieutenant who made
some comment about overhearing Walters say something like, ‘I could
kill him that way’… They didn’t use anything ‘relevant’ that I gave
to them after I called them eight days after the incident… but they
put my name in their report. There is no information about what his
family members said or even that they were interviewed. They were also
monitoring our emails… he was being forced to send these emails to
Captain Fasulo during the Spring of 2011. What kind of subversive or
terrorist actions did he think we were taking?
Why would none of this have mattered to Henderson Police? Because
there was an orchestrated plan to minimize the focus of the
investigation by claiming that it was being investigated under an
‘agreement’ between the LVMPD and the HPD.
I can’t say what happened from the time we last talked on the phone (I
had to report that I’d be out of town at Disneyland for my
mother-in-law’s 75th birthday). I was on relief of duty, so instead of
being paid to stay at home and be ‘available,’ I followed policy and
had to use one of my vacation or bonus days and, essentially, pay to
be out of town.
I can’t say what happened to him leading up to the May 2012
arbitration hearing where he didn’t even seem to be the same person
that I knew previously. I also can’t say what they did to him after
his testimony in my hearing… what did they put him though from May
of 2012 to that fateful day in January of 2013? Only they know —
individually and collectively. Getting the ‘word’ that you’re getting
‘bumped’ to graveyard while facing problems at home (per the HPD
report… the impact of pain medication on his wife, child care
concerns if you are going to be gone all night and sleeping all day,
preparing for possible surgery, and other stressors) may have been the
‘small’ thing that started the devastation. The man I knew was private
about his family but happy-go-lucky and positive. He was ethical and
honorable and had compassion. Somewhere along the way he was changed.
Let’s try to find out why!
* * * * *
Norm Jahn is a former LVMPD lieutenant, who has also served as a
police chief in Shawano, Wisconsin, and has nearly 25 years of police
experience. Jahn now contributes his opinions and ideas to help
improve policing in general, and in Las Vegas in particular, through
his weekly column in the Las Vegas Tribune.