District Judge Douglas Herndon on Thursday refused to dismiss a felony weapons charge against former Las Vegas police officer Thomas Mendiola. Herndon told Mendiola’s lawyer, Ulrich Smith, a jury should decide whether Mendiola unlawfully gave a handgun to a two-time felon.
Mendiola, one of the Metropolitan Police Department officers who shot and killed Erik Scott outside the Summerlin Costco last July, faces a Dec. 5 trial.
In September, a coroner’s inquest found Mendiola, 34, and two other officers were justified in Scott’s shooting, but his family filed a federal lawsuit.
Days after Scott’s shooting, Mendiola gave a .22-caliber Ruger handgun to Robert Justice, who has two theft convictions in Arizona, according to the indictment.
Justice, 45, pleaded guilty and is cooperating with police in an unrelated case involving attorney Nancy Quon. She and her boyfriend, former Las Vegas police officer William Ronald Webb, are charged in that case.
Police said they learned about the relationship between Justice and Mendiola during an undercover investigation that targeted Justice last summer.
Smith argued in court papers that Mendiola actually gave the Ruger handgun to Justice’s son, who is not a felon.
Justice ended up selling the handgun and a Dan Wesson .357-caliber revolver to an undercover detective for $500, police said. Neither firearm was registered with authorities in Clark County.
Justice told a grand jury Mendiola gave him the .22-caliber handgun as a gift after Justice performed some mechanical work on the officer’s car.
Mendiola didn’t appear in court for Thursday’s hearing.
Contact Jeff German at email@example.com or 702-380-8135.