Video shows man putting gun to Metro cop's head, firing


James Todora pointed his pistol point-blank at a Las Vegas police officer‘s head last Friday and pulled the trigger.

Fortunately for the officer, the loaded gun did not have a round in the chamber, and he was unharmed.

But Todora, 54, was shot and killed Friday by police during what Undersheriff Kevin McMahill called a "tragic" confrontation for everyone involved. The whole thing lasted just less than three minutes.

Metro on Wednesday provided an update on findings from the shooting and released footage from a body camera the department said Officer Carlos Luna was wearing when Todora tried to shoot him.

It started about 9:40 a.m. in the 5600 block of Sahara Avenue, near Lindell Road, when Luna pulled Todora over because a brake light on his Jeep Cherokee was out.

Immediately after being pulled over, the video shows, Todora jumped out of his SUV and began screaming at Luna, McMahill said Wednesday during a press conference. Luna told him to get back in the car, and Todora obeyed.

Todora started telling the officer, who was now at the driver-side door, that his wife had tried to run him over with her truck and that Metro had been called out to talk to him. He was briefly handcuffed before officers let him go.

McMahill said Todora and his wife were separated and that she had called police several times in the days leading up to the shooting. She also had a pending temporary protective order against him, but it hadn‘t been served.

Todora, who was angry and agitated during the traffic stop, told Luna he had a rifle in the back seat.

By this time, two other officers, Brian Kroening, 32, and Jonathan Lipinski, were conducting a separate traffic stop about 50 yards west from Todora and Luna. They could see Todora‘s behavior, and walked over to assist their fellow officer.

Another pair of officers, including 28-year-old Evan Hogue, arrived in a patrol car shortly after behind Todora‘s Jeep, police said. Hogue was still undergoing field training after having joined the department in September.

Luna changed his instructions to Todora after seeing how upset he was, and told him to get out of the car, McMahill said. The officer wanted to separate Todora from the rifle he said was in the back seat.

But Todora just became more irate, then threatened to shoot himself. He reached toward the passenger seat and pulled out a 9mm pistol hidden under a jacket. Luna tried to pull Todora away and out of the vehicle, and the two struggled briefly.

Todora then aimed the pistol at Luna‘s head and pulled the trigger, McMahill said.

The gun was loaded, McMahill said, but did not have a round in the chamber, so it did not fire but readied a round.

Luna heard the click and immediately pulled back and fell to the road, McMahill said. As he did, Todora pulled the trigger a second time.

This time, the gun fired, and a bullet went through a Jeep door frame and shattered the rear driver-side window.

Officer Kroening, who had approached the passenger-side door, saw the commotion and heard the gunshot, and fired three rounds at Todora, killing him.

Then the officers heard another voice saying he‘d been shot.

It was Hogue, who was behind the patrol vehicle and had been hit by the bullet Todora fired through the window.

Luna grabbed Hogue, put him in his vehicle and took him to University Medical Center. The wound was not life-threatening, and Hogue was treated and released a few hours later.

The .9mm pistol recovered inside the SUV was registered to Todora, McMahill said.

McMahill said he felt that the officers followed procedure but that they will still analyze the situation to see what can be learned.

"What can we learn that we could have potentially done differently to not have this officer-involved shooting?" McMahill said. "There may be nothing. However, there are opportunities for us to learn from each and every one of these incidents."

This was the fourth officer-involved-shooting in Metro‘s jurisdiction of 2015. There were 11 at the same point in 2014.

Contact reporter Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Find him on Twitter: @ColtonLochhead