Las Vegas Joins National Outcry On Deadly Police Force After Tyre Nichols’s Death

Law professors and others 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.

Some Memphis police officers stand near Tyre Nichols
Some Memphis police officers stand near Tyre Nichols
Some Memphis police officers stand near Tyre Nichols after he was brutally attacked, pictured above. Five officers were arrested. (Image: Memphis Police)

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. 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.

Nichols, a Black man, died shortly after his injuries.

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 said. Departments need to go beyond transparency and accountability, she added.

“Departments can’t stop there if they are serious about eliminating brutality and excessive force,” Rolnick said.

Casino’s Responsibilities

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.

“Only by continually working to improve services and social equity, can Las Vegas avoid tragic, heartbreaking, and unacceptable events like that which occurred in Memphis and have been repeated elsewhere.”

Also, Robert Jarvis, a law professor at Florida’s Nova Southeastern University’s Shepard College of Law, called the officers’ alleged murder of Nichols, “the latest installment in a long-running American tragedy.”

Sadly, these incidents are going to continue,” he told Casino.org. “African American life is and always has been severely devalued, especially by those in positions of authority, 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. The answer to Rodney King’s famous question (‘Can we all get along?’) remains ‘no.’”

Last week, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) and Clark County Sheriff Kevin McMahill issued a statement condemning Nichols’s death.

 

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Also, last weekend some two dozen protestors marched in Las Vegas in a peaceful demonstration over Nichols’s death, too. Las Vegas incidents were on the protestors’ minds.

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.

Protests have taken place nationally following the death of Tyre Nichols
Protests have taken place nationally following the death of Tyre Nichols
Numerous protests have taken place nationally following the death of Tyre Nichols. One small protest was held in Las Vegas. (Image: Vox)

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’s 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’s Westside neighborhood when he was apprehended by police after they saw he did not have a light on his bicycle.

An officer later pinned a knee on his head, shoulders and back. Williams pleaded with officers that he could not breathe. Williams passed away an hour later.

In the case of Jorge Gomez, he possibly was aiming a gun at officers before police shot him 19 times outside the Las Vegas federal courthouse during a Black Lives Matter protest in 2020. Prosecutors chose not to charge any of the officers. A civil lawsuit was filed by Gomez’s family.

Also, last January, Isaiah Williams was sleeping in an apartment when police forced their way inside the Las Vegas residence. Five officers fired multiple shots at him, and Williams shot one officer. None of the officers was charged, and Williams’s family is planning to sue.

ACLU of Nevada Executive Director Athar Haseebullah, said in a recent statement that “If you think Nevada is immune from these issues, have a conversation with the mothers of Jorge Gomez or Isaiah Williams.”

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 did not 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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