City Cast

A 2010 Shooting and the Difficulty of Change

Scott Dickensheets
Scott Dickensheets
Posted on July 7
Photo of a hand drawn map

Evidence in a 2010 police shooting. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun)

This is a hand drawn map of a shooting. Aided by a Metro officer, it was drawn by the girlfriend of Erik Scott after police officers shot him seven times on July 10, 2010, killing him. It tried in its way to capture the chaos that unfolded in the parking lot of a Summerlin Costco, in full public view.

The map was among the pieces of evidence presented in the coroner’s inquest a few months later. A coroner’s inquest was the procedure used to evaluate police shootings, then either exonerate or hold accountable the officer(s) involved. Actually, I shouldn’t use either; at the time of this proceeding, the inquest’s box score was beyond lopsided: In more than 200 inquests, only once had a cop not been cleared. That was in 1976. They were cleared this time, too.

Nonetheless, a public furor arose over this shooting, one of two high-profile instances that year (the other involved the troubling death of 21-year-old Trevon Cole in a botched drug raid; Metro had to pay his family seven figures). It eventually prompted broader considerations of Metro’s use of force, including this big Review-Journal project, “Deadly Force.” Certainly, Scott’s family, which unsuccessfully sued Metro, has never accepted the exoneration.

And it led to an attempt by Clark County to reform the inquest system into more of a fact-finding review, a move opposed by police, some of whom sued to stop it. Eventually, the reformed process was watered down and implemented. Though, as my colleague, City Cast Las Vegas co-host Dayvid Figler, a longtime Las Vegas defense attorney, says, “It isn’t any better.” As KTNV reported after a police shooting a couple of years ago, at the time there had been more than 80 reviews, and none found police at fault.

Hey Las Vegas

Want to know what's happening in Las Vegas? Sign up for our free newsletter, Hey Las Vegas. Packed with local news, curated event recs, local life hacks, and more, it's your daily toolkit for getting the most out of the city you love.