Video has emerged showing a Las Vegas police officer placing a man in an unapproved choke hold after beating and using a stun gun on him seven times in an incident that would prove to be fatal.
According to police, 40-year-old Tashii Brown was disoriented and sweating when he initially approached officer Kenneth Lopera and a partner in a coffee shop at the Venetian Resort.
Brown claimed people were chasing him and then ran into an employee-only area, down hallways and outside into a parking lot before being ran down by Lopera, who believed he attempted to carjack a white pickup truck as the chase concluded.
Surveillance footage recorded from the scene shows that was not the case however, and Las Vegas police Undersheriff Kevin McMahill maintained at a press conference on Wednesday that the two people inside the tuck didn’t believe Brown was trying to commandeer the vehicle.
Surveillance videos were released along with body camera footage from inside the casino during the press conference.
They show Brown on the ground with his arms raised before being hit repeatedly with jolts from Lopera’s stun gun.
“Don’t move! Get on your stomach!” Lopera screams at Brown on the footage.
“I will!” Brown can be heard responding. “Please! Please!”
Lopera can be seen on the body-cam video wrestling with Brown as he tries to handcuff him.
The surveillance footage shows that Lopera punched Brown in the head and neck numerous times before placing him in a “rear naked choke,” an unapproved department technique otherwise known as a “sleeper hold.”
Brown was choked for more than a minute and eventually lost consciousness. According to McMahill, officers administered CPR until paramedics arrived, and Brown was then taken to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
Watch the raw footage:
Brown, a business owner and father of two, would have faced no charges had he survived, according to police officials, who said Lopera has been placed on paid leave pending the result of an investigation in to the incident.
Brown’s family is calling for Lopera to be fired and are considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the Las Vegas Metro police department. Also getting involved in the incident is the ACLU of Nevada.
Executive Director Tod Story said the organization will file public records requests pertaining to the department’s use of choke holds, even though officials acknowledged that the “rear naked choke” used by Lopera is not authorized by Metro policy.
“Even the approved techniques, we think have got to be eliminated,” Story said.
Applying the department approved Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint technique for between seven and 15 seconds will render a person unconscious, according to Story.
He said at least four others have died since 1990 from some form of neck restraint administered by Metro police officers. In Brown’s case, the Clark County coroner’s office has yet to release an official cause of death.