Thomas Mendiola, one of the Las Vegas police officers who shot and killed Erik Scott outside the Summerlin Costco last year, has been charged in a criminal complaint with unlawfully giving a handgun to a two-time felon.
The district attorney's office filed the felony complaint late last week against Mendiola, who has been with the Metropolitan Police Department since March 2009.
Mendiola, 23, who is assigned to the Patrol Division's Convention Center Area Command, has been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the criminal case.
He has been summoned to appear in Las Vegas Justice Court on Feb. 24 on the weapons charge, which draws a maximum 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
In September, a coroner's inquest found that Mendiola and two other officers were justified in Scott's July 10 shooting, but Scott's family later sued the officers and the department in federal court.
Mendiola gave the .22-caliber Ruger handgun to Robert Justice, who has two theft convictions in Arizona, sometime between July 15 and Aug. 19, after the Costco shooting, according to a copy of the criminal complaint.
Justice, 45, has been charged and is cooperating with police in an unrelated case involving the alleged scheme to kill Las Vegas attorney Nancy Quon. Justice's co-defendant in that case is Quon's live-in boyfriend, former Las Vegas police officer William Ronald Webb, who is being held at the Clark County Detention Center on $400,000 bail.
"This informant has provided us substantial assistance in a number of investigations leading to this case," District Attorney David Roger said late Monday. "He will continue to play an integral role in these cases as they move through the criminal justice system."
Justice is to be arraigned in the Quon case Thursday before District Judge Jackie Glass.
Police learned about the relationship between Justice and Mendiola during an undercover investigation that targeted Justice last summer, a police report said.
Justice ended up selling the Ruger handgun and a Dan Wesson .357-caliber revolver to an undercover detective on Sept. 14 for $500, the report said. Neither firearm was registered with authorities in Clark County.
Less than two months later, Justice allegedly conspired with Webb to buy from the same undercover detective 51.4 grams of the club drug gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) to give to Quon, who police believed planned to kill herself.
Police suspect that Webb and Quon plotted her demise because of an FBI investigation into allegations of fraud within homeowners associations around the valley. She is considered a top target of the investigation.
Quon, 50, a wealthy construction defect lawyer, has told police that she never planned suicide, and she has not been charged in the death plot.
After police arrested Justice in the alleged death scheme in November, he began cooperating with detectives.
On Dec. 28, Justice told detectives that Mendiola gave him the .22-caliber handgun as a gift after Justice performed some mechanical work on the officer's car free of charge.
Justice indicated that he had discussed his criminal record with Mendiola and that the officer knew he was not supposed to possess firearms, the police report said.
Detectives later interviewed Mendiola, who acknowledged giving Justice a "beat up" .22-caliber Ruger.
Mendiola said his aunt had given him the weapon, which he explained "wasn't even working," before she moved out of town, the report said.
At one point, Mendiola told detectives, Justice showed him a ".357 black Python," which Mendiola described as a "big gun" with "barrels that screw on and off."
According to the report, Mendiola said he told Justice, "Dude, you're not supposed to have that, but you already know that."
Justice replied, "Yeah, no one will know."
Contact Jeff German at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-8135 or read more courts coverage at lvlegalnews.com.