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District, school police sued over shooting at central Las Vegas high school

Updated March 31, 2023 - 8:13 pm

A lawsuit filed in District Court is alleging that Clark County School District police used excessive force when an officer shot two minors last year at a central Las Vegas high school.

On March 29, 2022, around 2:15 p.m., police responded to the parking lot of Western High School after a report of a fight. It was reported to police that someone in a car involved in the fight had flashed a gun. While officers were in the parking lot, a Ford Fusion drove through at around 20 mph, according to school police.

Police tried to get the car to stop but it continued, striking one student and then continuing toward officers.

School police Officer Christopher Knight shot at the car which then left the parking lot. Two minors were struck by gunfire and police said neither of their injuries were life threatening. Two other passengers in the Ford were uninjured.

A complaint filed in District Court Wednesday named Mi’Chayla Atkinson, the plaintiff, as one of the people struck by gunfire.

Atkinson broke up the fight involving Western High School students. According to the complaint, “one of the students involved in the altercation was plaintiff’s associate.”

After breaking up the fight, Atkinson got into the Ford as a passenger. As the Ford drove through the parking lot, its driver noticed Knight pointing his gun at the car and swerved to avoid being shot, causing the car to strike a student, according to the complaint.

When Knight fired at the Ford, Atkinson was shot “in her left shoulder/back, causing plaintiff to suffer severe injuries to her person as well as require medical treatment for both physical and psychological injuries,” the complaint read.

Western High School, the district, Clark County School District police and Knight were named as defendants in the complaint.

Atkinson is alleging negligence, assault, battery, emotional distress and violation of civil rights in the complaint.

School police said at a press conference soon after the shooting that Knight shot at the car because he feared “for his safety, the safety for students, and his partner,” school police Lt. Bryan Zink said.

The Metropolitan Police Department assisted school police with their investigation and found a gun in the Ford, Zink said.

Police said no one in the Ford was enrolled at any district schools at the time of the shooting. The driver of the Ford was also shot and later arrested on counts of battery with a deadly weapon, possession of a dangerous weapon on school property and disregard for public safety.

The school police department has recently come under fire after some state lawmakers called for a review of its use-of-force policies after a video posted to social media showed an officer grabbing a Black student and throwing him onto the ground and placing a knee on his back near Durango High School.

David Finegold, an attorney for Atkinson, did not return a request for comment Friday.

The Clark County School District said in a statement that the district does not comment on pending litigation.

Zink declined to comment on Friday.

Contact David Wilson at dwilson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @davidwilson_RJ on Twitter.

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