A Las Vegas police officer will stand trial for charges related to a May police pursuit that left one person dead and another injured.
North Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Natalie Tyrell ruled Tuesday that prosecutors presented enough evidence to send Aron Carpenter’s case to District Court. He is to be arraigned Feb. 1.
Carpenter faces one count each of felony reckless driving and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter for his role in the pursuit that ended with the death of 26-year-old Ivan Carrillo.
As the preliminary hearing ended Tuesday, prosecutor Lawrence O’Neale told Tyrell that Carpenter got “caught up in the chase.” Carpenter was driving 62 mph in a 45 mph zone after he was ordered to break off the pursuit, O’Neale said. Carpenter should have “never been that close” to Carrillo, O’Neale said.
Defense attorney Bret Whipple said it was Carrillo’s reckless driving that caused the crash.
Evidence showed Carrillo was high on methamphetamine at the time. Whipple said Carrillo was weaving in and out of oncoming traffic and that Carpenter was doing his job as a police officer.
Authorities say the chase began about 10:20 p.m. after a report of a possible drunken driver on the east side of the valley. After Carrillo refused to pull over, Carpenter and officer Andrew Charles Ubbens, in separate cars, chased his vehicle north along Nellis and Las Vegas boulevards. The two officers were ordered three times to end the chase.
With the cars speeding at more than 60 mph near Lone Mountain, Carpenter’s patrol car bumped Carrillo’s car, sending it into oncoming traffic and triggering a four-car crash that killed Carrillo. A person in another vehicle was injured, authorities said.
Although Carpenter’s actions were consistent with an attempted Precision Intervention Technique, also called PIT, he told investigators he was performing an evasive maneuver to avoid colliding with Carillo’s Honda.
Carpenter, a four-year Metropolitan Police Department veteran, is on unpaid suspension pending the outcome of the case.
Ubbens earlier this month pleaded no contest to failure to use due care, a misdemeanor. He was ordered to pay a $500 fine and to perform 50 hours of community service.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@review
journal.com or 702-380-1039.