Metro cop linked to air unit audit abruptly retires

The Las Vegas police officer who accused his bosses of burying his scathing audit of Metro’s aviation unit has abruptly retired.

Lt. Gawain Guedry turned in his two weeks notice Friday morning, according to several police officials.

Guedry made waves earlier this year after he asked the Clark County district attorney’s office and the Nevada attorney general to review whether Metro brass covered up problems in the air unit in the wake of an officer’s death.

His announcement came just a few days after Guedry met with Clark County prosecutors about his accusations, according to officials. Guedry had asked prosecutors to investigate whether police officials broke any laws, although the substance of the meeting this week was unclear.

District Attorney Steve Wolfson was on vacation and unavailable for comment on Friday.

Guedry is also seeking whistleblower status under a Nevada law designed to protect peace officers who report “improper governmental action” by their employers. It’s unclear how his retirement could effect that standing.

The last two years of Guedry’s 26-year career at Metro saw the veteran supervisor entangled in a contentious battle involving the department’s troubled air unit.

Metro’s executive staff assigned Guedry, a former police pilot, and two other officers to audit the unit in 2012 after a pair of near-fatal helicopter crashes.

In May 2012, a rescue helicopter clipped a Red Rock Canyon wall with its rotor blade during a training mission, millimeters away from killing seven officers. And in September 2012, a $1 million helicopter was totaled after a crash during another training accident at the North Las Vegas Airport. Two pilots received minor injuries when the helicopter rolled over.

Guedry spent most of last year on that assignment, uncovering a decades-long “cowboy culture” of recklessness, according to several officials who saw his report.

But Metro brass pulled the plug on the investigation before it was finished, and Guedry spent most of this year fighting for the assessment to be made public.

The unfinished, rushed report was emailed to Undersheriff Jim Dixon on July 22, 2013. In his email, Guedry gave a chilling warning.

“Our agency has been incredibly lucky thus far, in terms of not losing a single life to an aviation accident. That luck may not continue,” he wrote.

Search and rescue officer David VanBuskirk died just hours later after he fell from a hoist while rescuing a stranded hiker on Mount Charleston.

Metro officials have repeatedly refused to make Guedry’s 100-page report public, calling it a confidential draft, and instead released a short list of changes to the unit without any analysis of his findings.

But the findings in their report could prevent a tragedy similar to VanBuskirk’s accident, according to Guedry.

“Lives are at stake and any softening of the report or minimizing of the report’s findings place officers’ and citizens’ lives in danger,” Guedry’s union lawyer wrote in emails to prosecutors earlier this year.

Guedry has not publicly commented about his report, and it’s unclear whether that will change in retirement. He did not immediately respond to a call Friday seeking comment.

Contact reporter Mike Blasky at mblasky@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0283. Follow @blasky on Twitter.