Las Vegas police: Knife-wielding woman has history of mental illness

The 50-year-old knife-wielding woman who was shot twice by a Las Vegas police officer last week has a history of mental illness and problems with Metro, Clark County Undersheriff Jim Dixon said Thursday.

Dixon said officers came into contact with Tania Torres-Espinoza on two separate occasions in January and February 2013 and took her to University Medical Center for mental evaluations. But he did not describe what transpired between her and the officers.

On Saturday, Sgt. Esmeralda Boveda, 30, a patrol officer with the Metropolitan Police Department for more than a decade, felt her life was threatened and fired at Torres-Espinoza after she charged Boveda from five feet away with an 8-inch kitchen knife raised over her head, Dixon said.

Torres-Espinoza was shot in the upper torso, in the chest and the neck. She had not been released from the hospital as of Thursday, and was booked in absentia on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon, and resisting a police officer with a deadly weapon, Dixon said. Her condition wasn’t available Thursday.

The officer-involved shooting, the fifth handled this year by Metro, occurred after Torres-Espinoza’s husband, Alfredo Nassar, dialed 911 to report that his wife, holding two large kitchen knives, was chasing him out of their apartment and into a vacant lot across the street. Their apartment is at 3424 Villa Way, near Tropicana Avenue and Celo Lane, on the east side of Las Vegas.

When Boveda arrived on scene, she found Torres-Espinoza standing on the southwest corner of Tropicana and Celo, with a knife in her right hand, Dixon said. When Boveda tried to stop her, Torres-Espinoza attempted to flee across Tropicana, leading Boveda to park her squad car in the median in an attempt to stop her.

Boveda got out of her squad car and followed the woman to make sure she wasn’t going to run away, but at the same time kept her distance while giving commands in both Spanish and English to drop the knife, he said.

“All of a sudden Torres turns around, raises the knife above her head and charges the officer,” Dixon said. “Sgt. Boveda, who is now approximately five feet from Torres, discharges her firearm twice to stop the threat.”

Torres-Espinoza was transported to Sunrise Hospital.

Dixon said the the results of the investigation will be turned over to the Clark County district attorney’s office when it’s completed.

Dixon said the husband has had problems with his wife in the past, but Dixon wouldn’t go into detail about those problems.

Contact reporter Tom Ragan at tragan@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512.