Metro findings in Jorge Gomez death case leave some dissatisfied
Friday, April 16, 2021 | 6:20 pm
Metro police officers were on “heightened” alert after facing a crowd of racial justice protesters in downtown Las Vegas.
Then they received a call that one of them had been shot in the head about 3 miles south on Las Vegas Boulevard. With an unknown rifleman roaming free, a cavalry of subway patrol cars fled south on Las Vegas Boulevard.
The red, blue, and yellow flashes distorted the view of at least one camera Jorge Gomez captured outside the Lloyd George Federal Courthouse. Gomez openly carried two long guns and body armor.
Policeman Shay Mikalonis, who was recently shot on the Strip and paralyzed while attempting to break up another group of protesters, wasn’t the only person in the corridor that evening during the Black Lives Matter protests on June 1st of the resort was shot.
A few minutes later, eight of 19 shots fired by four police officers pierced 25-year-old Gomez, who ran away after a police officer shot him with less-than-fatal beanbags outside the courthouse.
The police claim he pointed a gun at them; His family claims he just ran to safety.
An investigation found that there was no conclusive video evidence of Gomez aiming his rifle or pulling the trigger, Metro said in a controversial police fact-finding investigation on Friday in the chambers of the Clark County Commission.
If there are vivid footage of the shooting, Metro doesn’t have them, said Detective Jason Leavitt, the lead investigator for the Force Investigation Team, who put together a report that he highlighted during the nearly four-hour presentation.
The public trial comes after a preliminary determination by Clark District Attorney Steve Wolfson that the officers who shot Gomez will not be prosecuted.
A federal civil action against the police is pending.
Gomez first caught the police’s attention at the protest – but before the shooting.
At various times, a Metro sergeant and another North Las Vegas police sergeant had requested his arrest near Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard for allegedly inciting officials and failing to disperse when the protest was labeled unlawful , and touched his holstered pistol and got into a “shooting stance,” Leavitt said.
“Grab the shooter,” if you have the chance, the unidentified subway attendant said at 11:06 pm, 16 minutes before Gomez was gunned down.
Statements attributed to Gomez’s father, Jorge Gomez Sr., after the Clark County coroner office called to notify him of the death, led investigators to believe that there was a conspiracy that may have led him associated with the Mikalonis shooting.
Leavitt noted that the coroner referred to the police said the elder Gomez said his son had been “radicalized” by the Black Lives Matter movement. He allegedly told a Metro sergeant on a phone call that he blamed Black Lives Matter for the death and that the Social Justice Movement had recruited and paid for him.
The June 1 protest in Las Vegas was part of a series of demonstrations that revealed George Floyd’s death under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
In a brief interview on Friday, Gomez Sr. claimed that he did not say that, despite not remembering what he actually said. “If someone on the phone tells you … ‘Hey, we just murdered your son,’ I’ll be empty.”
None of the conversations were recorded, Leavitt said, adding that the shootings were unrelated and there was no conspiracy. Officials said the suspect at Mikalonis’ shooting when he dispersed protesters in the street was not part of the demonstration. Edgar Samaniego is suspected of having shot Mikalonis, who is paralyzed from the neck down, from a nearby motel.
Gomez was hit eight times
The four officers who opened fire on Gomez were on their way to respond to Mikalonis’ shots, but had stopped to put on protective gear when they encountered Gomez running. They are Sgt. Ryan Fryman, Vernon Ferguson, Daniel Emerton, and Andrew Locher.
As Gomez walked past the courthouse after most of the demonstrators had dispersed, he slowly began to “shuffle” and put his backpack in front of him. Detective John Squeo initially mistook Gomez’s long gun for a baseball bat.
“Metro police! Stay on the other side of the barrier, ”Squeo said to Gomez, pointing to bollards in the courthouse.
“What obstacles,” Gomez reportedly replied.
When a second officer ran down the stairs to arrest Gomez, Squeo began firing beanbag projectiles.
Gomez ran, fell, dropped the rifle on his shoulder, got up, ran, and was gunned down seconds later. It took between 15 and 30 seconds from the time Squeo opened fire, and the officers shot the live rounds.
Gomez was hit eight times – once each in his head; on his nose; in his back; left flank; left hip; right side; left hand and left thigh, said Leavitt. The autopsy summary doesn’t say how many rounds hit him from behind, but Leavitt said it was multiple times.
Charts presented by Leavitt show the angles – between 72 feet and 95 feet across the street from where officers shot. Neither officer began shooting Gomez’s back, as indicated in the diagram, although two officers continued to fire after Gomez passed their line of sight.
Eleven out of 19 bullets hit a concrete wall, according to Metro photos, and pictures of Gomez’s clad vest showed 10 impacts in the front and sides and three in the back. Gomez didn’t fire a round.
The four officers gave the department’s Force Investigation Team a tour to informally re-enact the incident and placed markings where cartridge cases were found and brown bags to show where the officers were standing when they opened fire. However, the reenactment was not recorded and they also refused to give voluntary statements, which is a common practice for union officials.
Gomez openly carried – which is legal in Nevada – two Glock pistols in conversion kits that they made rifles out of. The police found a third Glock pistol hidden in his backpack.
The three guns had magazines full, and one showed that the trigger was pulled in one place, even though the chamber was empty. Leavitt said it was impossible to know when that trigger was pulled and it could have been anytime and not necessarily during his interactions with the police.
Had he survived, Gomez would have faced four attacks with a deadly weapon. one count each of possessing a short-barreled rifle and carrying a concealed weapon without permission, Leavitt said to mock Gomez’s family in the audience.
“What we saw was a circus, a prepackaged hearing,” said lawyer Rodolfo Gonzalez, who represents Gomez’s family on the civil suit against Metro, the four officers who killed Gomez and the officer who fired the deadly rounds . whoever they claim set off the fatal chain of events.
“What this did to the family caused them more pain than anything else,” said the lawyer in a press conference after the presentation.
Family and supporters were offended by the way Metro defamed Gomez, they said. For example, the presentation once featured footage of violent protesters that Gomez was not a party, as well as social media and text communications by Gomez before the shooting, which they said had nothing to do with his death.
They also had a problem with how the fact-checking was carried out. A prosecutor and an ombudsman asked Leavitt questions. But the ombudsman, Attorney Josh Tomsheck, did not represent the family.
The ordinance triggers fact-checking when prosecutors say they are not bringing charges.
“These officers want to tell you what happened if you don’t believe with your own eyes,” said Jeanne Liera, Gomez’s mother, noting Tomsheck’s previous links with the prosecutor as a prosecutor. “Where is this fair? The whole situation is just unfair, ”she said. “It’s a dog and pony show.”