Las Vegas police on Thursday released surveillance video from a police shooting earlier this month where an unarmed man was shot in a 7-Eleven.
Officer Jason Evans, 29, shot the man about 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 21 at a 7-Eleven near Nellis Boulevard and Stewart Avenue.
Undersheriff Jim Dixon identified the man Thursday as 30-year-old Antoine Hodges.
Police said Evans mistakenly thought Hodges was the suspect in a pair of killings at the Pacific Harbors Sunrise apartments at 5150 E. Sahara Ave. on Oct. 20.
Evans was on patrol when he saw Hodges outside his white Chevrolet Tahoe in the parking lot of the 7-Eleven.
Hodges, a black man with shoulder-length dreadlocks, matched the description of the suspect in the killings, Dixon said. Evans had been assigned to the homicide scene the previous night and was briefed on the investigation, he said.
As Hodges finished his purchase and walked toward the glass doors, Evans approached the front of the store with his gun drawn.
“The following actions then occur very quickly,” Dixon said.
The clerk heard Evans tell Hodges to exit the store, and heard Hodges reply that he “had not done anything,” Dixon said. Hodges stepped back from the door while holding his keys and phone in his left hand as Evans tried to open the door.
Hodges placed his right hand hand behind his back toward his right rear pocket as he backed away, Dixon said.
Dixon said the clerk heard Evans yell several times for Hodges to show his hands, but Hodges didn’t listen to the officer. Dixon said Hodges backed further into the store, stepping slightly behind a merchandise rack and finally backing into an ice cream freezer.
As Hodges backed into the freezer, it “appeared to cause his body to suddenly turn toward officer Evans,” Dixon said. Evans fired one round, striking Hodges in the abdomen. It was a “through-and-through” shot, he said.
Hodges was hospitalized, but has since been released. He isn’t a suspect in the killings and wasn’t charged with any other crime.
Dixon, asked if Hodges should have shown his other hand, said citizens should always follow an officer’s instructions.
“Absolutely. Anytime an officer tells you to do something, you should comply with it. Now, that’s going to be his word that he felt he should not (comply), and here’s the outcome of that. Right or wrong,” Dixon said.
Evans’ face was blocked out on the edited video, as required by Nevada law, Dixon said.
“Officer’s bill of rights doesn’t allow us to show his face, so we had to have that removed,” he said.
Along with the clerk, two women in the store witnessed the shooting. But Dixon said the women didn’t speak English and didn’t understand what happened.
Dixon wouldn’t speak about Evans’ tactical choices because he didn’t want to taint the department’s internal investigation. A Use of Force Review Board panel, consisting of civilians and officers, will determine if tactical mistakes were made, he said.
“The (civilians on the panel) will obviously watch the news, and whatever I say, good or bad, will end up probably making people assist in their decisions, so I prefer to wait until that review is done,” he said.
In addition to the internal investigation, homicide detectives continue to investigate the shooting for possible criminal charges, Dixon said. When that investigation is complete the case will be submitted to the Clark County District Attorney’s office. That office will determine whether charges should be filed.
Dixon said Evans spoke with homicide detectives on Monday, which is an unusual occurrence. Officers involved in shootings are advised by union attorneys not to speak with criminal detectives, and most officers invoke their Fifth Amendment right to keep silent.
Officers are required to speak with internal investigators, however, although those statements are not public.
Evans, a Las Vegas officer since 2008, was placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into his actions.
The shooting was the 11th Las Vegas police shooting this year and the third involving an unarmed suspect.
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at email@example.com or 702-383-0283. Follow @blasky on Twitter.