Sixth member quits Las Vegas police department's Use of Force Board

A sixth person has quit the Metropolitan Police Department’s Use of Force Board over the sheriff’s decision to keep a cop who shot an unarmed man.

Robert Le Piere, 60, resigned as a civilian board member Thursday morning, following in the footsteps of the five board members who resigned the day before.

On Wednesday, board co-chairman Robert Martinez and four members quit in protest of Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie’s decision to save the job of Jacquar Roston, who shot and wounded a man in November. The board unanimously recommended Roston be fired.

Assistant Sheriff Ted Moody, who co-chaired the board, abruptly retired last week after Gillespie’s decision.

Le Piere, a retired police officer from New Jersey and six-year veteran of the board, said he wasn’t on the panel that reviewed Roston’s shooting but was troubled by Gillespie’s ruling.

“I have never been on a panel where people took it anything less than tremendously serious,” Le Piere said. “I can understand their feelings having their decision overturned. It’s offensive. Why are we here?”

The Use of Force Board consists of four civilians and three officers who review shootings and other serious uses of force by Las Vegas police. The civilians are chosen from a pool of 18 volunteers and rotated every hearing.

During his Use of Force Board hearing, Roston was combative and unapologetic for his actions and told board members he wouldn’t change how he handled the incident.

But during his pre-termination hearing a month later, Roston changed his tune and took responsibility for his actions. That board recommended a weeklong suspension, the most severe penalty short of firing, and Gillespie agreed.

Martinez said Wednesday that the board members felt Gillespie undermined the critical incident review process to satisfy the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, the union that represents rank-and-file officers. The union’s leader denied the allegation.

Gillespie has not spoken publicly about the resignations, but in a statement released Wednesday he said the final decision on someone’s job was his alone.

The Police Department’s Use of Force Board underwent major changes in the past year as part of an overhaul of policies and procedures designed to improve transparency and accountability of the agency.

That overhaul came in the wake of a Review-Journal investigation and a federal Department of Justice review that found the department lacked policies to prevent shootings and rarely held officers accountable for problematic shootings.

The changes were aimed at examining the totality of the officer’s actions rather than simply the moment the trigger was pulled. Before the board changes, no officer in an on-duty shooting was recommended for firing.

Since the changes, there have been two: Roston and Jesus Arevalo, who shot and killed mentally ill Gulf War veteran Stanley Gibson in December 2011.

Gillespie has yet to rule on Arevalo’s future.

Contact reporter Mike Blasky at mblasky@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0283. Follow @blasky on Twitter.