Las Vegas Joins National Outcry Over Deadly Police Force After Tyre Nichols’ Death
Posted on: January 30, 2023, 11:04h.
Last updated on: January 31, 2023, 05:07h.
Several law professors with ties to Las Vegas and the gaming sector are adding their voices to the outrage over the deadly beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tenn.
Five Memphis police officers who earlier this month allegedly kicked, beat, and assaulted Nichols, 29, were charged with second-degree murder and other crimes. They also targeted him with pepper spray and stun guns. Nichols died shortly after his injuries.
Each officer was fired, as was a sixth officer. The Memphis Fire Department also fired two EMTs and a lieutenant for allegedly failing to act properly at the crime scene.
Following the release of graphic police videos, legal experts condemned the attacks and noted the need for long-term solutions.
This incident makes clear that police violence has no single solution,” Addie Rolnick, a professor at UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law, told Casino.org. She is also the Associate Director of the law school’s Program on Race, Gender & Policing.
Memphis police already had taken such steps as placing body cameras on officers, increasing department diversity, and releasing arrest videos.
“Horrific violence happens even with these reforms in place,” Rolnick told Casino.org. “Departments can’t stop there if they are serious about eliminating brutality and excessive force.”
Anthony Cabot, Distinguished Fellow in Gaming Law at UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law, points out that casinos have a role to play, too.
Gaming properties must hire, train, and appropriately pay qualified security personnel, he said.
The casino industry’s success includes an obligation to its patrons that they will not face racial or other discrimination,” Cabot told Casino.org. “So, security training must incorporate these important values.”
“Social responsibility doesn’t end at the casino corridors,” Cabot added. “The well-being and prosperity of all the stakeholders — the casino, the tourists, the casino employees, and the community members — depend on a responsible and ethical community infrastructure including a police force that is founded on professionalism, equality, respect, and mutual support.
Robert Jarvis, a law professor at Florida’s Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard College of Law, called the officers’ assault on Nichols “the latest installment in a long-running American tragedy.”
Jarvis cautioned that incidents like this one may continue in the future.
“African American life is and always has been severely devalued, especially by those in positions of authority,” Jarvis told Casino.org, “and we lack the backbone as a society to demand better from those who are supposed to protect us. Clearly, we have learned nothing from past killings.”
Last week, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) and Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill issued a statement condemning Nichols’s death.
Last weekend some two dozen protestors marched in Las Vegas in a peaceful demonstration over Nichols’ death. Las Vegas incidents were on the protestors’ minds.
Statement on Death of Tyre Nichols: https://t.co/o5zNGkYmwj pic.twitter.com/vLnThP9nXu
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) January 28, 2023
Las Vegas Deaths
On Friday, Ben Crump, a lawyer representing the Nichols family, mentioned during a press conference the death of Byron Williams of Las Vegas, who died in police custody in 2019.
Crump represents Williams’s family in a lawsuit filed in 2021. The Clark County coroner’s office said the death was a homicide. One of the causes was a “prone restraint” by police, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
No local officer was arrested for Williams’ death, but some officers were disciplined, according to news reports. The local police department also changed some policies as a result of the incident.
Williams was riding a bike in Las Vegas’ Westside neighborhood when police apprehended him after they saw he did not have a light on his bicycle.
An officer later pinned a knee on Williams’ head, shoulders, and back. Williams pleaded with officers that he couldn’t breathe. He died an hour later.
Tashi Farmer Brown
Another incident took place in 2017 when Tashi Farmer Brown ran from police through the Venetian casino.
Police then tased, punched, and placed him in an unapproved chokehold. He died about an hour later. LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera was terminated as a result. But a local grand jury didn’t indict him.
Brown’s family later received $3.7 million in two settlements with Las Vegas officials, KSNV, a local TV station, reported.
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