A man who fell or jumped to his death from a freeway overpass Friday might have been running away from a state trooper because he was in the country illegally, his family said Sunday.
Relatives of Alejandro Sanchez-Escoto, 29, identified him as the man who died after an incident in which a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper fired his Taser stun gun at him. Sanchez-Escoto then fell or jumped to his death from a freeway overpass about 4:30 a.m. Friday, according to the Highway Patrol.
"He was afraid maybe he would be deported and not see his son anymore," said his 19-year-old sister, Sidney Morales-Escoto.
She added that Sanchez-Escoto's 10-year-old son was born in Las Vegas.
Sanchez-Escoto's family adamantly denied that he was suicidal, saying he was making plans for his son's birthday on Oct. 2.
The family said they haven't learned what happened that caused his death. They said they were willing to acknowledge that he was in the country illegally in order to get his story known, which might help the investigation forward.
"We just want to know what happened," said another sister, Mariana Morales-Escoto, 21.
Grieving family members spoke from their southwest valley home Sunday afternoon.
The trooper confronted Sanchez-Escoto on the Las Vegas Beltway overpass at Decatur Boulevard after reports of a pedestrian on the freeway, Highway Patrol spokesman Jeremie Elliott told the Review-Journal on Friday.
The man was running in the travel lanes of the highway, and when the trooper approached him, he ran away, Elliott said.
Risk cited in firing of taser
The trooper gave chase and fired his Taser because of the risk the man posed to himself and the public, Elliott said.
But the Taser did not make proper contact to paralyze the man, and the man eventually went over a barrier wall and fell to his death, Elliott said.
Investigators were trying to determine whether the man jumped or fell, he said.
Las Vegas police had joined the investigation, which is procedure when the Highway Patrol has an in-custody death or officer-involved shooting.
Sanchez-Escoto's family said they last saw him about 90 minutes before the incident. Sanchez-Escoto and family members were walking to a 24-hour grocery store. Sanchez-Escoto veered off. His family acknowledged that Sanchez-Escoto had consumed two or three 24 ounce beers before his death, but they did not think he was drunk.
Raul Morales-Escoto, 22, said his deceased brother was one of eight siblings. Those in the country are here legally, he said.
But Sanchez-Escoto was afraid of being deported, especially after another brother was deported in 2010. The family is from Mexico City, Morales-Escoto said.
He said his brother was a hard worker who always put his family first. Other family members chimed in and said when Sanchez-Escoto held a job, his only personal expense was bus fare to get to work. The remainder of his earnings went to his son and mother.
Morales-Escoto said his family has spoken with police, and on Saturday, investigators went to their home and confiscated his brother's cellphone and searched his room and took pictures of it.
Morales-Escoto said he didn't know why his brother was on the freeway. He speculated he might have been lost because he didn't know the roads too well because he didn't have a car.
Sanchez-Escoto was a soccer fan with a sweet tooth who loved collecting baseball caps and watching telenovelas.
Morales-Escoto said he looked up to his brother.
"He looked tough but was really kind," Morales-Escoto said. "Everything I am was because of him. He was always looking forward. ... He was a very happy person."
Contact reporter Antonio Planas at firstname.lastname@example.org.