A Las Vegas police captain under internal investigation for arranging a private ride in a department helicopter for a rock star’s wedding proposal has retired in lieu of a pending demotion, the Review-Journal has learned.
Capt. David O’Leary, who oversaw the department’s Financial Crimes Bureau, was going to be demoted at least one rank, according to police officials.
Leaving before the demotion allowed O’Leary to retire as a captain instead of a lieutenant, which is more lucrative. He earned $165,000 in pay in 2012.
He had 25 years of experience at the department and was eligible for retirement.
“He was basically forced out,” said one officer with knowledge of the situation.
O’Leary arranged the tour for DJ Ashba, lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses. The August tour over Las Vegas became public after Ashba posted photos on his Instagram account.
“That was the most incredible day of our life!!” Ashba wrote on Instagram. “Special thx to the Las Vegas Police Dept. for the most amazing helicopter private tour over Vegas!”
Ashba also thanked O’Leary for his help. O’Leary, an avid musician, met Ashba through the local music scene.
The internal investigation into the incident concluded about two weeks ago. It’s unclear if Ashba, 41, ever spoke to police detectives to clear up rumors about the ride.
Ashba’s girlfriend said yes to the proposal after the helicopter “landed in a field” next to a table with roses and champagne, the rocker wrote on Instagram.
“It was beautiful she didn’t expect a thing, it was magical,” he wrote.
But some police officials said O’Leary was simply arranging a typical citizen ride-along for a friend and that Ashba embellished his online account of the ride.
In either case, the negative publicity infuriated top brass at the department in the wake of an officer’s death involving a helicopter shortly before Ashba’s ride.
David VanBuskirk, 36, a Search and Rescue officer, died during a late-night helicopter rescue of a hiker stranded on Mount Charleston on July 23.
The officer fell while being hoisted to the helicopter. An investigation into his death is ongoing.
Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie was also trying to persuade the Clark County Commission to raise the sales tax to hire more officers and bridge a budget shortfall.
Commissioners rejected the sheriff’s request, although Gillespie will try again with an alternative plan next year.
O’Leary wasn’t the only involved officer to be punished for the ride. Former Air Support Lt. Tom Monahan was transferred to a patrol bureau.
Roy Horsley, who flew the helicopter, will not be allowed to fly for the department and will be transferred out of the air support detail, police said.
Review-Journal writer Colton Lochhead contributed to this report.