Suspected Carjacker at Venetian Las Vegas Dies While Being Apprehended by Metro Police
A Las Vegas police officer used a stun gun on a man 7 times during a struggle at the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Sunday. The police officer also held the man in a neck hold for one minute, before the man lost consciousness.
The man, 40-year old Tashi Farmer, later was pronounced dead, said Las Vegas authorities on Wednesday. LVPD noted that the man was attempting to carjack a vehicle when he was confronted by the police officer.
Kenneth Lopera: Metro Police Officer
The officer involved was Kenneth Lopera, a 31-year old veteran policemen. Undersheriff Kevin McMahill of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said at a news conference on Monday that Tashi Farmer would not have been charged with a crime, had he survived.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police later determined that the officer involved in the death might have used a forbidden neck hold on the would-be carjacker. Officer Lopera has been placed on administrative leave, pending an investigation.
Tashi Farmer: Suspected Carjacker
The situation began at 12:50 am on Sunday morning (Saturday night) inside the Venetian Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. Tashi Farmer walked up to the Office Lopera and his partner and claimed people were chasing him. Mr. Farmer was sweating heavily and appeared panicked, which Undersheriff McMahill said were classic signs of “excited delirium”.
In the midst of this discussion, Farmer ran off, and eventually ran into an employee-only area of the casino. The officers ran after him, but Farmer was able to lose them for a time.
Eventually, Lopera caught Mr. Farmer outside the Venetian building, where he was trying to open the tailgate of an occupied pickup truck. (The vehicle’s driver later told investigators he did not believe Farmer was trying to carjack him.)
Caught Farmer in the Parking Lot
Lopera followed Mr. Farmer to the driver’s side of the vehicle. Believing Tashi Farmer was attempting a carjacking, Officer Lopera thought the man was trying to carjack the vehicle. Lopera fired his Taser at the Tashi Farmer, in the first of seven Tazer attempts. Eventually, in an attempt to subdue Tashi Farmer, Officer Lopera applied the choke hold or neck hold.
“Rear Naked Choke” Might Have Been Applied
When the incident first happened, Metro Police believed that Officer Lopenra used an approved method of applying pressure, known as the Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint. After an investigation, the police determined that Lopera might have used a “rear naked choke“, a mixed martial arts technique which is not approved by the Metro Police. The rear naked choke is more effective, but also more dangerous for the target of the choke.
The body camera Lopera was wearing showed that he tried to strike Tashi Farmer in the head area a few times, to no avail. The body camera also picked up Lopera stating that he was applying a “rear naked choke”, though it is uncertain whether he used the term accurately or during a time of panic.
ACLU Involved in the case
Lopera held the choke for a minute, until other officers arrived on the scene. They quickly determined that Tashi Farmer was not breathing and began to apply CPR techniques. He was transported to a trauma center for aid. At 1:39 am at the trauma center, they pronounced him dead.
Given Tashi Farmer’s behavior leading up to and during the tragic incident, a toxicology report has been ordered. That will take 6 to 8 weeks to perform. The police report and toxicology report will be forwarded to the Clark County district attorney’s office.
Undersheriff McMahill on ACLU Statement
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union of Las Vegas has called on Metro Police to stop using all neck restraint moves. In reply to the ACLU’s call for restraint, Undersheriff McMahill said, “I have a difficult time trying to remove an opportunity to have a de-escalation tool so that officers don’t resort to deadly force.”
Undersheriff McMahill said to the assembled press, “I understand the concern in this community with this in-custody death and I — and we — share that concern.”
The undersheriff noted that Officer Lopera is on paid leave.
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