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Family of man fatally shot by Las Vegas police at protest sues

Updated August 31, 2020 - 9:25 pm

The family of a man who was shot and killed by Las Vegas police during a Black Lives Matter protest has filed a federal lawsuit against the department.

Jorge Gomez, 25, was shot 19 times outside the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse downtown on June 1.

The suit, filed last week, alleges that Gomez had arrived at a protest, which stretched from the center of the Strip to downtown, wearing a ballistics vest and carrying “some of his guns on his person in compliance with” the state’s open carry laws, all without any issues or problems with law enforcement.

Gomez started to run from a crowd that had begun to disperse after police fired “less than lethal rounds” late on the evening of the shooting.

Gomez “did not charge at or run in the direction of the officers who were firing and striking him with the less then lethal rounds,” the suit states. He “never verbally threatened any of these officers, he never pointed a gun at anyone, including the involved officers, and he never fired his weapon at any point during the incident, nor did he attempt to do so.”

The suit names those on the force who police said fired at Gomez as Sgt. Ryan Fryman, 40, and officers Dan Emerton, 38, Vernon Ferguson, 36, and Andrew Locher, 53. All four were assigned to the police Professional Standards Division Organizational Development Bureau, an administrative bureau that monitors training and recruit academies, according to Metro’s website. None of the four officers was wearing a body camera because they are not typically in the field, police said after the shooting.

Police have said that Gomez appeared to raise his weapon at the officers, an allegation the complaint disputes.

Officers “may have simply overreacted when they heard the less then lethal rounds being fired” and saw Gomez “running with his guns on his person,” the lawsuit states.

The suit alleges that Fryman, Emerton, Ferguson and Locher were members of a range training staff, “so they would not normally work patrol in the field. This may have also contributed to them overreacting and using excessive and unreasonable deadly force.”

More than a dozen surveillance cameras were active around the courthouse when Gomez was shot. But his family members said at a vigil for Gomez last month that they had seen only an edited clip from one of them, as they asked witnesses to step forward.

Las Vegas police said an officer briefly spoke with Gomez before firing five less-than-lethal rounds at Gomez’s back, but they have not reported what the conversation entailed.

Around the same time that night, another shooting at Circus Circus left Metro officer Shay Mikalonis critically wounded.

The suit, filed on behalf of Gomez’s mother and father by two Las Vegas law firms, Gonzalez and Flores and Claggett and Sykes, makes several legal claims, including violation of right to protest, excessive force, denial of medical care and failure to train.

Metro could not be reached for comment Monday night.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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