Crouched on all fours in a northwest valley street, Alma Chavez wept over pavement touched by the blood of her 23-year-old son, who was shot and killed last week by Las Vegas police.
As the unforgiving summer sun pelted down on her back Tuesday afternoon, Chavez swore she could still see the stain that spread over Firestone Drive after he was shot multiple times in a Thursday morning confrontation with officers near Buffalo and Westcliff drives.
Chavez, an employee with Clark County's Department of Family Services, said she regrets calling 911 and telling police that her son was distraught. All she wanted was for her son, who had ulcerative colitis, to calm down.
"They just killed him, like if he were a dog, with no warning," Chavez cried out while kneeling. "They didn't even try to talk to him. I called them for help. I call them to calm him down, not to kill my baby."
Police said Rafael "Ralfy" Olivas ignored their orders to drop his knife. Instead, he began to approach officers. Officers fired four beanbag shotgun rounds at Olivas, which didn't stop him. He continued toward police and was fatally shot by two officers.
Chavez's recollection of the shooting contradicts some key details that have been released by police. But a full recounting of the facts in the case might not happen for months because the public process that delves into police shootings, the Clark County coroner's inquest, now faces a court challenge that has delayed scheduled hearings.
Police spokesman Marcus Martin on Tuesday declined to comment on the Olivas shooting, citing the ongoing investigation.
Chavez also disputed the comments of one family member who told the Las Vegas Review-Journal her son had wanted to die. She said her son had no intention of taking his life in a "suicide by cop."
"I just want the whole world to know my baby was a wonderful kid, full of life," she said. Police "killed his dreams, his goals. They stopped everything."
Police said that Olivas was "waving" a knife as he walked toward officers. Chavez said her son walked toward police with his hands at his side. The knife, in his left hand, was never lifted in a threatening manner, she contended.
Chavez also said she never heard police tell her son to drop the knife.
The fatal shooting occurred at 6:46 a.m., police said. That morning, Chavez said, her son and his girlfriend had been fighting in her home. Chavez said the argument began at 6 a.m. after Olivas' girlfriend told him not to talk to her mom in a disrespectful manner. The argument escalated after the girlfriend said she was leaving. If she left, Olivas told her, she needed to take all her things with her.
Chavez said she tried to calm her son. She said Olivas was loud but not violent. He had never been violent to her or anyone in the past, she said.
Chavez was concerned because Olivas had ulcerative colitis, which was aggravated by stress.
Chavez called 911 for help. More than once, she asked for a specialized team to help her distraught son.
"I called 911, and I told the lady to please make sure to send me the specialized team," Chavez said. "I told them my son was extremely angry. He was out of control but was not going to do anything to anybody."
Chavez said Olivas did not have a history of depression or mental illness.
The Metropolitan Police Department does have crisis intervention specialists, but it's unclear whether they were dispatched Thursday morning.
Chavez said her son heard her call 911 and became even more upset. That's when he reached for a kitchen knife. She closed a drawer on him, but he was able to grab a knife before walking out of the home.
Chavez said she followed her son out the door and onto Firestone.
She stayed about 50 yards behind her son, who walked south on Firestone. A patrol car arrived, and in less than 5 seconds she heard at least three rounds of what she now knows were shots from a beanbag shotgun.
Chavez said she did not hear any officer order Olivas to drop the knife before the beanbags were fired. The beanbags didn't affect her son, Chavez said, and he continued to walk.
Meanwhile, Chavez said, she saw at least three more police cars arrive on Firestone. Two additional cars blocked the street from Westcliff.
Chavez, who estimated she was then between 100 and 150 yards away from her son, said she then heard 14 gunshots. Again, Chavez claimed there was no order from officers to her son to drop the knife. She was unsure about the distance between officers and her son. Chavez said she did not clearly see the shooting because she was too far away.
Less than a minute passed between the time Olivas was shot with beanbags and when he was fatally shot, Chavez said.
After Olivas was shot, Chavez sprinted toward her son, but one officer physically restrained her, she said.
Chavez doesn't know why Olivas grabbed the knife or why he didn't drop it as he approached officers. She guessed that he was in shock after being hit by the beanbag rounds.
Olivas was pronounced dead at University Medical Center.
Christopher Grivas, 30, and David Hager, 33, have been identified as the officers who fired their weapons in the shooting. Both officers were hired by the department in June 2005. Both have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation.
Las Vegas Police Protective Association union President Chris Collins said that although he can't say definitively, he doubts some aspects of Chavez's story.
Las Vegas police trained to investigate officer-involved shootings might not have all the details themselves. At the direction of the unions' attorneys, Grivas and Hager have not spoken to police investigators, Collins said.
Police unions representing officers in Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas have advised officers not to make statements to investigators who gather evidence for the inquest process.
Collins said he hasn't seen a questionable police shooting.
"When someone convinces me an officer committed a homicide on duty, we won't be there at the scene with an attorney," he said.
Las Vegas police officers have been involved in 12 cases this year in which at least one officer fired a weapon on duty. Nine of those cases resulted in deaths.
Earlier this month, county officials postponed the first revamped coroner's inquest because of a pending constitutional challenge filed by the Las Vegas police officers involved. The inquest into the fatal shooting of Benjamin Hunter Bowman had been scheduled to start July 12.
Officers Phillip Zaragoza, Michael Franco and Peter Kruse shot Bowman as he held a knife to the throat of a bartender at a PT's Pub in November.
The union contends the new rules transformed the inquest from a fact-finding process into an adversarial process.
The change at the heart of the dispute was the introduction of an ombudsman who can directly question witnesses on behalf of family members of the deceased.
Chavez said she is trying to pick up the pieces of her life and wants justice for her son.
She described her son as artistic and musically inclined. He graduated from Mojave High School and worked at Best Buy. He recently obtained a student loan to attend the College of Southern Nevada.
Chavez said her son was selfless. Every month, he was responsible for paying the electric bill along with the Internet and phone bills.
He also had a giving nature and big dreams.
"I promise you one day I'm going to be rich and famous. I'm going to buy a huge house for you," Chavez recalled her son saying. "See, beautiful, I'm going to make it."
Review-Journal writer Brian Haynes contributed to this report. Contact reporter Antonio Planas at aplanas@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638.