Prosecutor changes policy on officer-involved shooting response

A Clark County prosecutor will respond to the scene whenever a police officer shoots someone, whether anyone dies or not, District Attorney Steve Wolfson announced Monday.

The policy change stemmed from the U.S. Department of Justice’s comprehensive review of local police shootings last year. The review focused on the Metropolitan Police Department’s policies and procedures, but it also recommended that the district attorney be more active in investigating any “significant” police use of force.

When the Justice Department unveiled its report in November, Wolfson said he would consider the change.

Since Wolfson took office, prosecutors have gone to the scenes of all fatal police shootings. However, they did not respond to shootings in which a person was shot and survived.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Wolfson said.

The county’s top prosecutor said he hoped the new policy would boost the public’s confidence in law enforcement and the justice system.

“We owe it to the public to review all of the incidents in which our officers use deadly force, regardless of the extent of the injuries caused,” Wolfson said.

This was just the latest change made to how officer-involved shootings are investigated following a federal review of the Las Vegas police department’s use-of-force policies and publication of a Review-Journal series, “Deadly Force,” a yearlong investigation of Las Vegas police shootings.

Both the Justice Department and the newspaper found the review process of shootings lacked accountability and transparency.

Wolfson has contacted Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie, as well as the police chiefs for Henderson and North Las Vegas and the local FBI office about the change to the policy.

So far there have been about a dozen officer-involved shootings in 2013 in Clark County.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Contact Steven Slivka at SSlivka@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0264.


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