Family expected to sue police in shooting death of man

The family of a 23-year-old man shot and killed by Las Vegas police in July is expected to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department today, the Review-Journal has learned.

Attorney Brent Bryson confirmed Wednesday that Alma Chavez, the mother of Rafael "Ralfy" Olivas, is suing the Police Department; the two officers involved in the shooting, Christopher Grivas and David Hager; and Sheriff Doug Gillespie. A news conference is expected today after the lawsuit is filed.

Chavez has said publicly that the officers never gave her son a chance to surrender before they shot him July 14 on Firestone Drive, near Buffalo and Westcliff drives. "They just killed him, like if he were a dog, with no warning," Chavez told the Review-Journal in July.

Chavez, an employee with Clark County's Department of Family Services, said she regretted calling 911 and telling police that her son was distraught. She had hoped officers could help calm down her son, who had ulcerative colitis. Olivas was upset over a fight with his girlfriend.

Chavez called 911 and asked for a specialized team to help her distraught son.

When police arrived, they said, Olivas ignored their orders to drop his knife and began to approach officers. Officers fired four beanbag shotgun rounds at Olivas, which didn't stop him. He continued toward police and was fatally shot by the two officers.

Police said Olivas was "waving" a knife as he walked toward officers.

Chavez disputed that and said her son approached police with his hands at his side. She also said she never heard police tell her son to drop the knife.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at or 702-380-1039.