OPINION: Unjustified Criticism of Las Vegas Metro Police in Would-Be Mass Shooter Case

(AP Photo/John Locher)

Speculation and Scrutiny

Gun rights advocates will champion the fact that Nevada’s firearm-carrying laws appear to have worked as designed in protecting the community from bad actors, thus saving lives in Friday’s incident at Turnberry Towers. However, ahead of more details of the suspect and case information being made available, criticism and speculation have circulated concerning police response to media inquiries


Questions that did not receive a response from Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department included asking to confirm if the intervening civilian seen in the video was an employee, what that individual’s job title is, and to confirm if the “gunman was shot by someone who wasn’t a cop.”

In Nevada, the state constitution was amended to give crime victims rights, including privacy, under Marsy’s Law. Giving information that can be used to identify a crime victim’s location, such as if they are employed at a company or where their work is performed and their job title or description, is patently unconstitutional in the Silver State. 

Marsy’s Law also includes an enforcement mechanism, allowing victims to have standing in court to assert their constitutional rights. This means that the law enforcement agency which locals affectionately call “Metro” can face legal consequences for providing “confidential information or records…which could be used to locate or harass the victim or the victim’s family.”

As for pondering whether a police officer used force to stop the assailant, the answer to that could be garnered from context clues.


Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada

Around 2013, LVMPD overhauled the agency, implementing 75 recommendations found after reviews were conducted in coordination with the Department of Justice. Soon, the department was regarded as a national model of modern and effective community policing. 

In 2018, at an event subtitled “How Las Vegas became a national model of reform,” Kelly McMahill spoke about the transparency policies. McMahill was appointed Deputy Chief before retiring in 2021 from the force that her spouse now leads as Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill.

Then-Captian Kelly McMahill said:

What we believe is our community, when you use deadly force, has an absolute right to know the facts as we know them.


AP/Reuters Feed Library

Las Vegas police then-Undersheriff Kevin McMahill watches body camera footage during a press conference on accusations by Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, in Las Vegas. Bennett has accused Las Vegas police of racially motivated excessive force in a Twitter posting saying he was threatened at gunpoint following a report of gunshots at an after-hours club at a casino-hotel. (AP Photo/John Locher)

If the Friday incident had been what is known as an officer-involved shooting (OIS), the captain of internal oversight would hold a press briefing between three and four hours after the incident. Additionally, between the 48 and 72-hour mark of the investigation, another press briefing is held, which often offers the public and media photographic evidence, body camera footage, and details, including the officer’s name, age, and how long they have worked on the police force.


There have only been three OIS this year, nearing the seventh month. The most recent OIS happened on Friday, the same day as the Turnberry Towers incident. So, to the eloquent question of if the “gunman was shot by someone who wasn’t a cop,” the fact the police didn’t roll out the cameras and tell the public about it three hours later would confirm that there had not been an OIS at Turnberry. 

Societal Reflection

Now, the employee’s position has been revealed in the media, while some kind of a sigh of relief is expressed on social media as if we were collectively due the personal information. Maybe the feel-good story of the “armed civilian” winning the battle for life is of national interest. Maybe being able to “confirm” all the details about the hero is based on goodwill. 

But the fact of the matter is that it seems that the individual is a crime victim, which creates protocol as to their rights in Nevada. It also appears that if this person would like to identify themselves, they could do so of their own free will. 

We, as a society, should not act as though we are entitled to certain information, just because it helps us story-tell. That person’s job position is likely constitutionally protected information that Metro could have never provided, even if media sources did. 


The process to obtain case information that has not been provided in press releases includes making a records request. Some of that information can be redacted, and the agency will provide legal citations as to what the basis of confidentiality is. Had this process taken place, gleaning if the civilian involved is being regarded as a victim, thus installing privacy barriers, would have been made certain through the exemption explanations provided.

In an additional reflection, note that information about the suspect was not the line of questioning arising over the weekend. Nobody has asked for a motive. Nobody has seemed to ask where he worked. This is unusual because when there is a mass shooting incident, be it the October 1, 2017, Mandalay Bay tragedy in Las Vegas or the Nashville religious school massacre earlier this year, details about the suspect are generally sought. National interest was sparked about each of those suspects, including Stephen Paddock’s lifestyle and habits and the transgender school shooter’s manifesto

Perhaps LMVPD could have been more responsive in providing updates, such as a press release when the suspect was officially arrested. As to victims, however, the agency appears to have outlined the process in which to request case information through the records department and receive citations for any details they are unable to provide. 

Given that transparency is within the culture at Metro and a basis of their relationship with the community, I think that they did their job here and certainly the core tenets of it — even if they didn’t include the public in all aspects of their investigation or case progression. But, I’ll remind you that, at times, they do work closely with the media and residents on cases.


Working With the Community 

Remember when Democrat Public Administrator Robert Telles (allegedly, still) murdered a journalist, Jeff German, from the Las Vegas Review-Journal? The RJ helped provide evidence in the case by staking out the murderer’s home and capturing him washing the vehicle used in the crime. The police, under then-Sheriff Joe Lombardo‘s command, had asked the public for help in identifying the suspect just one day prior to his arrest.

Lombardo is now the Governor of Nevada. His first vetoes of a grand total of 75 on the session were three pieces of gun legislation. Lombardo was also an advocate involved in passing Marsy’s Law.

See:(NV Gov Joe Lombardo Loads up Veto Pen Against Democrats’ Gun Laws, More Battles to Come)

Or the time that a serial bombing murderer escaped state prison under Democrat Governor Steve Sisiolak? The state agency didn’t initiate missing inmate protocols for four days, not realizing that he escaped. Local law enforcement and other task force coalition agencies nor the public were alerted for days, thus giving the escaped inmate plenty of time to flee the area. With an urgent response and communications with locals regarding the manhunt, Metro was able to snag the fugitive before he could board a bus to Mexico after a tip came in from a civilian who recognized him from the police flier. 

So, maybe a question didn’t get answered yet. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. In the Turnberry incident, Las Vegas Police were also “good guys with guns.”


Read More:

UPDATE: Democrat Las Vegas Official Robert Telles Arrested, Charged With Murder of Investigative Reporter

Prison Escape of Pipe-Bomb Murderer Is Governor Sisolak’s Fault


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