A 58-year-old Mesquite man with no criminal history “attempted to chamber a round” from his shotgun at Las Vegas police, prompting return fire that killed him near the Jean Airport, Metro Undersheriff Jim Dixon said Friday.
It was the first public statements from the Metropolitan Police Department on Sunday’s fatal shooting about 45 minutes southwest of Las Vegas.
Ronald Wayne Tate was pronounced dead at the scene. SWAT sharpshooters had gathered around his recreational vehicle just before 10 a.m., Dixon said.
A police officer tried for 20 minutes to coax Tate out of his RV by talking to him with a bullhorn, Dixon said. When he emerged, he was brandishing a 12-gauge shotgun gun and looked like he was ready to shoot, Dixon said.
So Metro SWAT officer Charles Moser fired and killed him. Moser, who has worked for Metro since 2000, is on routine paid administrative leave.
Tate was “saying something about the government” in the moments before the shooting, Dixon said. Earlier he had talked about having a bomb inside his RV.
Police came to the remote area after workers for a sky diving company knocked on Tate’s white RV door to ask him to move, Dixon said. They were worried their parachuters might land on him.
Tate came to the door with a 9 mm handgun, Dixon said, and told them to “get off my shooting range.”
They did — and they called 911.
Dixon said Friday’s news conference shows Metro is going beyond federal mandates to be more transparent about officer-involved shootings.
It has been more than a year since the Justice Department said to release more details. The 154-page report, issued by the Center for Naval Analyses in November 2012, was critical after Metro officers killed 12 people in 2011 and 25 people in 2010. The U.S. Department of Justice report said that training was inconsistent, policies were cumbersome and that poor radio communication often factored into shootings.
“The transparency has improved in the department,” he said. “These officer-involved shooting incidents are being brought out to the public through press conferences, and I think it’s going well.”
The updates come less than a week after the incident, and the final reports can be found online before they are forwarded to the Clark County district attorney’s office for review.
But this year, Dixon said, at least two of the shootings appear to be “suicide by cop,” and there’s not much a police officer can do to prepare for that. In Laughlin, a man emerged pointing a finger to his temple before officers shot him, Dixon said.
The threat to their lives can occur “in a second, literally,” Dixon said.
“They want to go home to their families,” he said, adding that the officers aren’t the ones “creating the calls, they’re responding to them.”
Contact reporter Tom Ragan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5512.