LAS VEGAS — A suspended police officer who is accused of killing a man with an unapproved choke hold in a struggle on the Las Vegas Strip maintained the neck restraint for 1 minute and 13 seconds — including 46 seconds after another officer first told him to let go, according to his arrest report.
Officers using a department-approved technique to stop blood flow to the brain can usually render a person unconscious in less than 10 seconds, police officials have said.
Officer Kenneth Lopera’s police union legal representative, Steve Grammas, responded Thursday that Lopera relaxed his hold on Tashii S. Brown at least once, when Lopera shifted position during the fatal struggle on a road into a parking structure at The Venetian resort.
“There are facts in the arrest report that we dispute,” Grammas told The Associated Press. “We believe there is more than one contributing factor to the asphyxiation” including the weight of casino security officers and police officers who joined the effort to handcuff Brown.
Lopera was arrested Monday on felony charges of involuntary manslaughter and oppression under color of office just hours after the Clark County coroner ruled that Brown asphyxiated while being restrained by Lopera. The coroner said Brown also was intoxicated by methamphetamine and had an enlarged heart. His death was ruled a homicide.
The arrest report, obtained Wednesday by the Las Vegas Review-Journal (http://bit.ly/2r0IFcD), says Lopera violated several departmental policies in the early-morning arrest death of Brown, 40, who also used the name Tashii Farmer.
Lopera activated a stun gun seven times, although department policy is to stop if three bursts aren’t effective, and never gave Brown “a reasonable opportunity to comply” with contradictory commands including “Don’t move” and “Get on your stomach.”
With Brown face-down on the pavement, Lopera punched his neck and head 10 to 12 times, according to the report, even though Brown “did not appear to be displaying aggressive resistance” to being handcuffed.
The report said Brown had committed no crime when he approached Lopera and a partner in a casino coffee shop, said he thought people were after him, and took off running through employee-only hallways to the rear driveway.
Lopera “had no reasonable suspicion or probable cause” to give chase, the arrest report said.
While Lopera told others he believed Brown intended to carjack a pickup truck, police said, the driver of the vehicle told police he didn’t believe Brown posed a threat.
A timeline derived from Lopera’s body camera and casino security video says Lopera, who was behind Brown with his arm around Brown’s neck, began after 15 seconds to ask others if Brown was unconscious.
“Is he out yet?” Lopera asks three times as casino security officers join the struggle to handcuff Brown.
“Let him go, Ken,” the other officer says 27 seconds after Lopera began the hold.
The report says Lopera continued to restrain Brown for another 46 seconds.
Grammas said he believes Lopera relaxed his hold on Brown at least once, when Lopera shifted his position.