A coroner's jury took less than 15 minutes Friday to find that an eight-year Las Vegas police veteran was justified in the fatal shooting of a 53-year-old stalking suspect who had pointed a gun at him.
The officer, Oscar Fulton, shot Javier Escamilla twice on May 5 at Jones Boulevard and Alta Drive after Escamilla crashed into another vehicle while fleeing police.
Escamilla's family denounced the jury's ruling.
"I don't understand how the seven jurors could be so ignorant," said his brother, Roberto.
During the inquest, Fulton testified that he and a rookie officer went to Escamilla's ex-girlfriend's house near Rainbow Boulevard and Washington Avenue about 10:15 p.m. on May 5 after she called to say that Escamilla was lurking around the house.
The ex-girlfriend, Maria Ramirez, had received a temporary restraining order against Escamilla on Feb. 23 because he threatened her with a gun in January, she said.
Ramirez testified at the inquest that Escamilla broke the restraining order several times and threatened to kill her.
"He was so mad at me," she said, adding that she feared for her safety as well as that of her two teenage daughters.
While Fulton was at Ramirez's house, Escamilla drove by in a blue pickup truck, the officer said.
Fulton, who is a training officer, said he didn't know at the time that Escamilla was driving the pickup but followed the vehicle onto Jones because he suspected that Escamilla was driving it.
Fulton said the pickup sped up on Jones and then turned onto Alta. As he neared the area, he said, he saw that the pickup had been involved in a two-car collision.
The officer parked his police cruiser at the accident scene. He got out of the cruiser and saw Escamilla sitting upright in the driver's side of the truck.
Fulton said he approached the pickup, ordering, "Let me see your hands. Get out of the truck" multiple times.
Worried that Escamilla might have been injured in the crash, Fulton opened the truck's driver-side door with his left hand while holding a handgun in his right.
He said Escamilla pointed a gun at him when he opened the door. Fulton then fired twice at Escamilla, hitting him in the left back and left arm.
"It's shoot or be shot," Fulton said.
A discrepancy in testimony occurred when Fulton said Escamilla was holding the gun in his right hand while another witness, Evaristo Pena, testified that the gun was in Escamilla's left hand.
Pena was in the other vehicle involved in the collision.
Neither witness could explain the discrepancy.
A Las Vegas police homicide unit detective, James Vaccaro, told the jury that Escamilla's pistol was stolen but was jammed and had a broken firing pin.
Escamilla's daughter, Onita, said her father would never hurt Ramirez's daughters and wasn't a violent man.
"He wasn't a monster," she said after the hearing.