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Friends: Woman killed by police was nonviolent

Nearly a week after police shot and killed a woman in the northwest valley, her friends are questioning the role her boyfriend played in her untimely death.

That man, local bar owner Ken Droog, isn’t talking about the death of Sharmel Edwards.

But others are speaking up.

"He’s not saying anything, and I think he needs to take some responsibility," said a longtime patron of Smoke Ranch Junction, a northwest valley bar that Droog owns and operates. The patron requested anonymity to protect his identity.

"It’s clear he’s trying to keep his name out of the news and his bar out of the news. I will not be a patron there anymore."

Edwards, a 49-year-old mother who worked with disabled children and had no major criminal history, was gunned down by five Las Vegas police officers Saturday morning after a man called police about 1:40 a.m. and said a female friend took his 2001 Cadillac without permission. The man also told police his .45-caliber handgun was in the center console.

When officers stopped the car in an alley about a mile from Droog’s bar on Rainbow Boulevard near Smoke Ranch Road, a 30-minute standoff ensued. Edwards stepped out of a vehicle with a gun in her hands, police say, and reportedly pointed the gun at officers.

Edwards was shot multiple times and died at the scene.

Since the shooting, several witnesses have come forward to say that Edwards didn’t point a gun at officers.

One witness said Edwards had been cradling the weapon with two hands, another witness said she had her hands above her head, and a third witness told a television news station that she was holding a cellphone and not a gun.

Police said that a gun was found next to Edwards’ body and evidence supports that she pointed the gun at officers.

But the question lingers: What were police told about Edwards before the police stop, and why would a seemingly normal woman turn a gun on police officers?

Records show the initial call to police originated from Droog’s home. Police said the Cadillac was taken from a residence, not a bar.

Friends and employees of Droog told the Review-Journal that he and Edwards had been dating for several months.

"They had big blowouts before; maybe that’s what happened this time," the longtime bar patron said. "But Sharmel was not a kooky lady; she was a nice gal. I just don’t see how she would have gotten out of that car with a gun in her hand."

The man said speculation among the bar regulars was that Edwards was on the phone with Droog in the moments before the shooting. Police have not confirmed that.

Deputy Chief Kathy O’Connor wrote in an email Thursday that police had received many questions about Droog’s involvement in the incident. She declined to discuss details, citing the ongoing investigation.

"Since our briefing Monday, we have received numerous follow-up questions similar to yours about the OIS," O’Connor wrote. "Our homicide investigators are following up on any new witnesses who have come forward to provide additional details."

Multiple calls to Droog at his home and his bar were not returned. Smoke Ranch Junction employees told the Review-Journal that Droog had no comment.

Anglea Pernell-Beamon, 37, said Edwards, a friend, was a mother and grandmother who worked with disabled children.

"I saw what they said she did on the news and said, ‘Are you serious?’ " Pernell-Beamon said. "It just didn’t seem like Sharmel. I’ve never known her to be violent at all."

Edwards was originally from Michigan and attended Michigan State University for several years in the ’80s. University officials said she did not obtain a degree.

She had been raising two teenage daughters by herself, Pernell-Beamon said.

"There’s nothing we can do for her (Sharmel) now, but maybe there’s something we can do to help these girls," she said.

The five officers that fired upon Edwards were Melvyn F. English, 43, Todd G. Edwards, 31, Truong T. Thai, 38, Matthew J. Cook, 43, and Christopher M. Grivas, 31.

Grivas was involved in another fatal shooting less than a year ago.

In July, he and officer David Hager shot and killed 23-year-old Rafael "Ralfy" Olivas, who was walking toward them with a knife.

Olivas’ family protested the shooting and sued the department and the officers. The lawsuit is pending.

This was the fifth officer-involved shooting in 2012 and the second fatality.

Contact reporter Mike Blasky at mblasky@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0283.

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