Costco shooting victim’s family drops lawsuit against Las Vegas police

Family members of Erik Scott, who was shot and killed by officers outside a Costco store in 2010, dropped their lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department on Tuesday, ending one of the most controversial chapters in the agency’s history.

The lawsuit wasn’t strong enough to withstand the appeals process, family members said.

"It’s not the slam-dunk case that everybody thought it was when we started," said Bill Scott, Erik Scott’s father. "If there was a different appeals court involved, I think we could have pressed ahead."

The family also was going up against stiff resistance from Las Vegas police. Sheriff Doug Gillespie said Tuesday that he would not settle the case.

"No matter how you look at it, the Scott family lost a loved one," he said. "I, as a sheriff, understand that the best I can. But I also have to support the process and support our officers when they make appropriate decisions."

The news surprised Chris Collins, executive director of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, which represents roughly 2,800 officers, including the three officers involved in Scott’s shooting.

"They (Scott’s family) kept telling people they had a case and they were never going to let it go," Collins said. "They let it go. … Someone convinced them otherwise."

Bill Scott said they didn’t drop the case because they didn’t believe in it.

"I believe, as do many, that Erik was murdered, crime scene corrupted, critical evidence destroyed," he said.


Scott family attorney Ross Goodman said the decision came down to what was one of the most controversial aspects of the case: the lack of surveillance video of the incident.

Goodman said that without the video, he didn’t feel he could overcome a qualified immunity defense for police officers, which the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently has bolstered. The appeals court recently ruled that even when excessive force is used by police, officers are entitled to an affirmative defense of "qualified immunity," Goodman said.

Under federal law, qualified immunity is a defense given to government agents protecting them against civil lawsuits if they act within the established law. Regarding a law enforcement agent’s use of excessive force, a plaintiff must show the officer acted wrongfully to overcome the qualified immunity defense.

Goodman and the Scott family had hoped that security footage of the incident would prove the officers acted wrongfully. But the footage does not exist.

"We believe had the Costco video existed it would have unequivocally shown that Erik was wrongfully shot and it would have negated qualified immunity as an affirmative defense," Goodman said.

Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, said winning a judgment against police is difficult in any appeals court circuit.

"I don’t think the 9th Circuit is any different," he said.

The Scott family agreed to drop the lawsuit if police did not pursue legal fees.


Gillespie said Tuesday that controversy over the Scott shooting was an example of people jumping to conclusions.

"As sheriff of a police department this size, a lot of things go on and people question what it is you do as an organization," he said. "I personally don’t mind people questioning what we do and why. What frustrated me with the Scott case is people jumped to conclusions before facts came out. We should all learn something from that."

But Las Vegas police released little information about the case in the weeks after it happened, allowing what was an unusual police shooting to generate both controversy and conspiracy theories.

On July 10, 2010, Scott, 38, was shopping with his girlfriend at a Costco store in Summerlin when he drew the attention of store employees. He was tearing open packages of water bottles and seeing whether they would fit in a cooler, employees later testified.

One employee noticed Scott was carrying a gun in his waistband. Although Scott had a legal permit to carry the weapon when concealed, the employee told him the store did not allow weapons inside.

When Scott refused to leave, employees called police, setting off a chain of events that would end with Scott’s death.

Police arrived and told an employee to evacuate the Costco. As hundreds of customers were spilling out of the store’s exit, officers Thomas Mendiola, Joshua Stark and William Mosher were waiting outside.

Scott and his girlfriend were among the customers. An employee pointed out Scott to police, and the officers gave him commands to either get down or drop the weapon — testimony and evidence has differed.

Scott pulled the holstered weapon out of his waistband and turned around. Officers fired seven times, striking him seven times.

There were dozens of witnesses, many of them doctors and lawyers, and in the days that followed, some of them doubted whether Scott pulled out a gun. Others said they did see him pull out a gun.

That confusion, combined with Scott’s profile — attractive, white, a successful medical device salesman and graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point — created a potent combination that touched a nerve in Las Vegas, which had seen years of controversial police shootings, including one just the month before.

Scott’s family led an aggressive campaign to bring the case to light, paying for billboard advertisements, hosting vigils and casting doubt about the police investigation. The news media seized on the case as Las Vegas police released few details, including refusing to address the most burning question: Was the incident caught on store cameras?

Privately, police believed the shooting was justified. Scott, it was later found, had potentially fatal levels of the painkiller morphine and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in his system. He was acting strangely inside the store. And he was carrying two guns — the second was found as paramedics took him to the hospital.

The Scott case reached fever pitch by the time of the inquest more than two months later, when it was revealed that the store’s cameras were not working that day. After an inquest jury unanimously ruled the shooting justified, the family members said they would file a lawsuit.


In the months that followed, the Scott case would help prompt changes to the coroner’s inquest process and launch a yearlong Review-Journal investigation into officer-involved shootings.

The investigation found that Las Vegas police officers have more shootings than officers at many other jurisdictions and that the agency did little to learn from the incidents.

Las Vegas police recently paid a $1.7 million settlement in 2010’s other controversial shooting, the death of Trevon Cole. Cole was shot in the head by officer Bryan Yant during a botched drug raid on Cole’s east valley apartment about a month before Scott’s death.

Collins said he is happy to put this chapter in Las Vegas police history to bed.

"I’m glad it’s over," he said. "I’m sure the families of everyone involved are glad it’s over."

It might not be finished, however. Bill Scott, a former journalist, said dropping the lawsuit was "liberating" because he can turn his attention to other issues of police accountability.

"It allows us to pursue the launch of other initiatives that have been on the books for a while," he said.

He wouldn’t disclose what he is planning, but said, "The battlefield, as I see it, now moves from Vegas to Washington, California and New York."

He added, "We’re not going to go away."

Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at or 702-383-0440. Contact Antonio Planas at or 702-383-4638. Contact Francis McCabe at fmccabe@ or 702-380-1039.

Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance Lights memorial unveiled at St. Rose hospital
A dedication ceremony was held at St. Rose to unveil a memorial and to read the names of those who died on October 1, a year ago. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive Remembrance Wall
(Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive
Vitalent hosts a blood drive at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, the first anniversary of the Las Vegas shootings. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October sunrise remembrance ceremony in Las Vegas
Myanda Smith, sister of Las Vegas shooting victim Neysa Tonks, speaks at the sunrise remembrance ceremony at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
‪Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to crowd at Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬
‪Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to the crowd at the Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Father of Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim talks about college scholarship in his daughter's memory
Chris Davis, father of a Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim, Neysa Tonks, talks about a college scholarship in his daughter's memory to assist the children of those who died in the shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Oct. 1 survivor Malinda Baldridge talks about life after the shooting
Malinda Baldridge of Reno attended the Route 91 Harvest festival with her daughter, Breanna, 17, and was shot twice in the leg when the gunman fired on the crowd.
Route 91 survivor talks about lack of progress in gun legislation
Heather Gooze, a Route 91 survivor, talks about lack of progress in gun legislation since the Oct 1. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas/Review-Journal) @reviewjournal
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Museum opening "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials"
The Clark County Museum is opening an exhibit "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials" of items left to honor the victims killed in the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Memorial service for former RJ lawyer Mark Hinueber
Mark Hinueber, the Review-Journal's former lawyer and defender of the First Amendment, died in Las Vegas on Aug. 23. Hinueber, who was 66, worked at the RJ and other newspapers for 42 years. On Saturday, his friends and family gathered for a memorial service.
Army veteran honored in Henderson event
Army Sgt. Adam Poppenhouse was honored by fellow veterans in an event hosted by a One Hero at a Time at the Henderson Events Center.
Michelle Obama and Keegan-Michael Key urge Nevadans to vote
Former first lady Michelle Obama and comedian Keegan-Michael Key urged Nevadans to vote at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas Sunday, Sep. 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
1 dead, 1 wounded in North Las Vegas standoff
A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries on Thursday morning after being shot inside a North Las Vegas house. Police responded about 11 p.m. to a shooting at a home on the 5600 block of Tropic Breeze Street, near Ann Road and Bruce Street. The wounded woman, police believe, was shot by a man, who later barricaded himself inside the house. SWAT was called to assist, and when officers entered the house, they discovered the man dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Las Vegas Teen Makes Clothing Resale His Side Hustle
Las Vegas resident Reanu Elises, 18, started buying and selling streetwear online when he was a high school junior. Like many other young adults, the world of online resale applications like Depop and Mercari have made selling clothing online for a profit easy. Now, Elises spends his free time at thrift shops looking for rare and vintage clothing he can list on his on his shop. Now in his freshman year at UNLV as a business marketing major, Elises hopes to open a shop of his own one day and start his own clothing brand. He estimates that he's made about $1000 from just thrifted finds in the past year, which he'll use to buy more thrift clothing and help pay for expenses in college. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Fruition Vineyards Encourages Young Entrepreneurs to "Buy, Flip, Dream"
Once a month, young adults gather at Fruition Vineyards on South Maryland Parkway near UNLV to dig through a stack of rare, vintage and designer clothing that's marked down well below it's resale value. Shop founder Valerie Julian began the vent, dubbed "Fruition Vineyards" in August after running her streetwear shop since 2005. The event gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to "buy, flip, dream" according to Jean. Meaning that they're encouraged to buy the clothing for sale and find a way to resell it for a profit, then reinvest that into whatever dream they pursue: college, a hobby or their own resale business. Shoppers lined up starting an hour before noon on the last Saturday in April for the opportunity and spoke about what they hoped to do with their finds and profits. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Local man goes under cover searching for answers to homelessness
Licensed mental health therapist Sheldon Jacobs spent 48 hours under cover posing as a homeless man in an attempt to gain perspective on the complex issue.
Family members of murder victims talk about their loss
Family members of murder victims talk about their loss. Susan Nash, 52, was killed in a shooting along with her daughter and one of her three sons on Sunday night. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Sayegh Cold Case Turns 40
Cary Sayegh was abducted from the playground of the Albert Einstein Hebrew Day School in Las Vegas in 1978. His body has never been found. (File Photo)
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vehicle of Interest in January Homicide
Las Vegas police released footage Friday of a “vehicle of interest” from a deadly shooting in January. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Hostage escapes clutches of robber before shooting
Metropolitan Police Department footage shows a man wearing a motorcycle helmet, identified by police as 27-year-old Mario B. Trejo, with one arm wrapped around a woman’s neck and held a handgun to her head.
Sunset Park Vigil
A small group of people gathered in Sunset Park to remember the three children recently killed in the area.
Henderson police bodycam footage of officer-involved shooting
Henderson police released body-worn camera footage of an officer-involved shooting in a grocery store parking lot at 2667 Windmill Parkway on Aug. 12, 2018. (Henderson Police Department)
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like