The man who was shot and killed by Las Vegas police last week “was in dire need of mental health services,” a department official said Wednesday.
But for Abel Correa, that help never came.
Correa, 24, was shot after he lunged at an officer with a screwdriver and wrench from close range Friday, Metro Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said at a press conference Wednesday.
Friday’s events started after Correa was seen on a neighbor’s surveillance camera throwing a ball hitch for a trailer through the neighbor’s front window. The ball hitch ended up in the chair in the front room and did not hurt anyone.
Officers responded about 8:30 a.m. to the home in the 6900 block of Berkshire Place, near Tropicana Avenue and Rainbow Boulevard, for a call on the destruction of property, McMahill said.
After speaking to the neighbor, the two officers, Glen Taylor, 50, and Eli Prunchak, 41, walked next door and spoke to Correa’s family. Correa’s brother gave the officers permission to go inside the house to look for him, McMahill said.
Taylor was wearing a camera on the lapel of his collar, which partially captured the events inside the house.
The closet next to the front door of the home eventually caught Prunchak’s attention, and he called Taylor over with a whistle.
Pistols drawn, the officers approached the closet door. Taylor opened the door as Prunchak told Correa to put his hands up.
Correa’s hands were in the air, but one was holding a screwdriver and the other a wrench in an “attack position,” McMahill said.
Prunchak can be seen on the video trying to retreat backwards, but runs into the back of a couch after just a few feet.
With Correa approaching and his retreat blocked, Prunchak fired four shots, and Taylor two.
Correa died at 9:49 a.m. at University Medical Center.
Friday’s incident was the eighth time police had been to the Berkshire Place home for calls about Correa in just the past two months, McMahill said.
On June 18, Correa’s mother called police because he was smashing things inside the home, McMahill said. She filed for a temporary restraining order soon after.
Four days later, and before the protective order could be served, officers were back at the home after neighbors claimed Correa had slashed their vehicle’s tires, McMahill said.
Correa told officers that day that his neighbors were witches and were holding someone against their will.
Officers placed the young man on a mental hold, McMahill said. A mental hold, often referred to as a Legal 2000, allows law enforcement take people who might be suffering from mental health disorders to a mental health facility for evaluation. The facility then decides whether to commit the person or release the person within 72 hours.
McMahill said constable deputies tried to serve the protective order on Correa three times between June 25 and July 1 but were unsuccessful.
The order was finally served when Metro was again called out to the house on July 6. Correa’s mother called from a neighbor’s home and claimed that he slashed the tires to her car, McMahill said. Correa’s mother did not press charges, but officers informed him that he was not allowed back at the house for two weeks per the protective order.
But officers were back at the house the next day.
Correa was seen breaking into his mother’s home, McMahill said. He was arrested for violating the protective order. Correa’s mother extended the order to last until Sept. 8 after the incident.
But Taylor and Prunchak did not know all of this — specifically the mental health concerns — when they went into the house, McMahill said.
“We endeavor to identify those who have this constant challenge of mental health, and get the officers that information when we’re responding,” he said.
This was the seventh officer-involved-shooting Metro’s jurisdiction in 2015, and fourth since July 10. Taylor and Prunchak are on paid administrative leave while Metro’s Office of Internal Oversight investigates the shooting.
Contact Colton Lochhead at email@example.com or 702-383-4638. Find him on Twitter: @ColtonLochhead