Alejandro Sanchez-Escoto didn’t commit suicide, and the officers chasing him didn’t cause his death. His fall from a highway overpass last year was a tragic accident, investigators said at a public fact-finding review on Thursday.
“This was an accident, and I think everybody involved realized it,” Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said after the review.
Sanchez-Escoto, 29, died about 4:30 a.m. on Sept. 7, 2012, after running from Nevada Highway Patrol troopers who attempted to stop him from walking on the highway near the southern Las Vegas Beltway overpass at Decatur Boulevard.
After he ran from police, a trooper attempted to stun him with a Taser. But the Taser failed to properly connect, and Sanchez-Escoto jumped from the overpass to his death while trying to escape.
His family later told the Review-Journal he might have been running because he was in the country illegally.
Sanchez-Escoto was afraid of being deported, especially after his brother was deported in 2010. The family is from Mexico City, his family told the newspaper.
The Clark County coroner’s office ruled his death an accident. Las Vegas police detective Robert Rogers, whose agency investigates any possible highway patrol use-of-force deaths, agreed with their assessment.
Rogers, the lead investigator, was the only witness called at the fact-finding review, which replaced the embattled Clark County coroner’s inquest process earlier this year.
He said none of Sanchez-Escoto’s family members believed he was suicidal. He was looking forward to his son’s birthday party.
“He had some plans coming up. He never had expressed suicidal ideations in the past,” Rogers testified.
It’s unclear why Sanchez-Escoto, who had several beers earlier, was running on the highway that morning.
Highway patrol car cameras did not capture Sanchez-Escoto’s jump from the overpass. Rogers said the trooper’s Taser model did not have audio or video recording capabilities.
Wolfson said a formal, final review of the incident from his office is pending. Unless new information arises, the officers will not face criminal charges.
None of Sanchez-Escoto’s family members, who had been vocal after his death, attended the review.
Unlike the coroner’s inquest, the new process does not have a jury, will not have testimony from citizens or the involved officers and is not legally binding. Instead of a courtroom, the hearing was held in the Clark County Commission chambers.