Review-Journal photographer detained during police investigation of body in VA Medical Center parking lot

A Review-Journal photographer was detained Thursday morning by Veterans Affairs police during an investigation of a body found in the VA Medical Center parking lot.

North Las Vegas and VA police worked the case. VA spokesman Richard Beam said in a statement that authorities are “investigating the death of a Veteran that appears to have been on the main campus.”

Beam said in an email that the veteran was found by a VA employee.

A spokesman for North Las Vegas police said the body was found about 7 a.m. Thursday.

Employees at the veterans hospital complex on Pecos Road received an alert when they arrived for work.

“We are unable to discuss the incident due to privacy concerns,” VA officials told workers in the message.

“If any employee needs emotional support we have set up a room in the Mental Health Clinic which will be staffed by one of our mental health professionals.”

Review-Journal photographer Jason Bean, who was in the hospital’s parking lot in an area open to the public, was detained by three VA police officers who threatened to arrest him if he did not delete photographs from his camera. He was released after doing so.

Bean said he was not encroaching on the investigation scene but was “shooting photos behind the tape.”

Mark Hinueber, general counsel of the Review-Journal, said federal regulations allow photography on federal property from publicly accessible spaces.

“Mr. Bean was in a public parking lot, behind barrier tape when he was unlawfully detained by VA security,” Hinueber said.

The newspaper plans to file a protest with the secretary of the Veterans Administration regarding the incident.

Thursday’s death investigation is reminiscent of a Jan. 30 incident in which a suicidal man barricaded himself in the parking lot at the federal medical center at Nellis Air Force Base.

Police closed roads near the base, and SWAT team members and crisis negotiators spent several hours on a phone with the 50-year-old man before he was taken into custody.

Contact reporter Keith Rogers at krogers@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308.