Officers involved in the death of a fugitive who shot and wounded an FBI agent last year were cleared by Clark County prosecutors Thursday, but not everything in the report was clear.
Javier Reyes, 32, died Feb. 19, 2013, after a shootout with a federal agent working with a fugitive task force consisting of Las Vegas, Henderson and federal officers.
The FBI agent was struck in the chest but was wearing a protective vest and was not badly hurt. The agent returned fire, hitting Reyes several times. Reyes died at University Medical Center hours later.
District Attorney Steve Wolfson’s heavily redacted report provided more information on the shooting but left out significant details.
None of the involved officers’ names, including the agent who killed Reyes, was listed in the report.
“At the request of the FBI, the names of all Special Agents and Task Force Officers have been removed from this Report,” prosecutors wrote.
Wolfson said the FBI insisted the name of the agent not be released. Because the shooting was “fairly straightforward,” Wolfson said he decided to honor their request, rather than “taking a chance on harming an otherwise good working relationship with our law enforcement partners.”
The FBI doesn’t care if agents’ names are released if their agent doesn’t fire, he said.
Wolfson named the FBI agents working with the same local task force in his 2012 review of Jason Baires’ death earlier that year.
Baires’ shooting was similar to Reyes’ shooting: Baires, a murder suspect, fired at police as he ran away, striking Metro officer Greg Theobald in the leg.
Several officers on the task force returned fire but apparently not FBI agents Daniel Coxon, Christopher McInnes or Scott Hendricks, who were named in Wolfson’s report months later.
The FBI’s “level of concern is much less” when their agents aren’t the shooters, Wolfson said.
Allen Lichtenstein, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, said differing standards for agencies means Wolfson’s review has “no transparency, accountability or credibility.”
The review must be independent and not influenced by the agencies being investigated, he said.
“This is an exception that eviscerates the rule,” Lichtenstein said.
It’s not Wolfson’s policy to blindly bow to the FBI’s demands, however. If the shooting had been controversial, or if the agent had prior shootings, Wolfson could have reconsidered releasing the agent’s name, he said.
“One of the first things we consider is, ‘Has this officer been involved in any prior shootings?’ It’s a factor,” he said. “Nobody likes that a citizen lost their life. But this was a dangerous, wanted criminal who shot a peace officer.”
Police had been looking for Reyes since Dec. 29, 2012, when he was accused of hitting his ex-girlfriend, threatening her with a handgun and robbing her.
Reyes ran from her home before officers arrived.
That wasn’t his only encounter with his former girlfriend. She told police Reyes attacked her on Jan. 23 outside a different residence and choked her for more than 30 seconds.
She had moved to the new home to avoid Reyes, according to a police report.
The brutality of the attacks was enough for the valley’s Criminal Apprehension Team to get involved. The task force, which includes officers from Las Vegas police, Henderson police and the FBI, tracks down the region’s most dangerous fugitives.
Detectives with the team located Reyes on Feb. 7 in the 10000 block of Delray Beach Avenue but were unable to make an arrest.
He outran officers and broke into the nearby home of an elderly couple.
Reyes was able to escape by holding a 73-year-old man at gunpoint and stealing his car, a police report said.
Officers’ encounter with Reyes weeks later began the same way for police, with a foot pursuit, this time near Charleston and Nellis boulevards.
Wolfson’s report probably will be the public’s only chance to learn more about the shooting. There won’t be a public fact-finding hearing because Wolfson said the FBI agent — despite working a local case with a local task force — was “acting in his capacity as a federal law enforcement officer.”
Fact-finding hearings, which replaced the coroner’s inquest, are held only when local officers are involved in a person’s death, Wolfson said. The definition of “officer” is limited by Nevada law to state and local law enforcement, he said.
“It’s a legitimate question, but I have to work within the confines of the statute,” he said.
It doesn’t matter if an agent is working a local case or with other local officers, he said. “Only one officer used force, and in this case, he was an FBI agent… It’s the individual officer who chose to use deadly force.”
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @blasky on Twitter.