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New details released about fatal police shooting of man with sword

Updated May 8, 2020 - 5:54 pm

Less than a minute before shooting a man holding a samurai sword with documented “mental health issues,” a Las Vegas police officer told him, “I’m trying to understand; I want to talk to you, I want to get you some help.”

But 40-year-old Justin Charland walked down the stairs at an east valley apartment complex, still holding the sword as he walked toward the officer and his partner, screaming “run.” The Metropolitan Police Department said Charland “lunged” at the officers before 27-year-old Vincent Segura shot him three times at about 11:15 a.m. Tuesday at the Sandhill Apartments, 3000 S. Sandhill Road.

Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman said in a video statement released Friday that police had previously “provided services related to mental health issues” to Charland, although it was unclear when Charland had his last contact with police.

Video released Friday showed Segura attempting to talk to Charland at the complex, while Charland yelled at the officer and others, at times incoherently.

About 40 minutes before the shooting, two people called 911 and said Charland “was outside his apartment yelling at neighbors and talking to himself,” Zimmerman said. He did not say if the 911 callers told police Charland had a sword.

Zimmerman said the two officers arrived 10 minutes before the shooting, although only about two minutes of body-worn camera footage was released Friday.

Charland was standing on the second floor of an outdoor staircase when officers arrived, holding what Zimmerman identified as a samurai sword. Segura and his partner called for backup as they tried to talk with Charland and get him to put down the sword, Zimmerman said.

The body-worn camera footage showed Segura walking toward the staircase and saying, “Justin, put that down,” while Charland stood on the second floor, appearing to yell at another person.

At one point when Segura tells Charland to put down the sword, he appears to say, “No, I will die.” At another point in the video Charland said, “You die, military style,” and made another threatening statement, although it was unclear who he was talking to. The voices of other people are heard multiple times throughout the footage.

After Segura told Charland he wanted to get help for him, the 40-year-old started walking down the stairs, still holding the sword, as Segura started backing up.

“Don’t come at me with that, Justin,” Segura is heard saying in the video, pointing his gun at Charland. “Come on, man, you don’t want to do this.”

“As Mr. Charland was advancing toward the officers, he said he was a ninja and he was going to kill them,” Zimmerman said.

As he walked down the stairs, the video showed Charland saying he was a ninja and “shoot me.” It was unclear from the video if he threatened to kill the officers while walking toward them.

Charland kept walking toward the officers, yelling “run,” multiple times. Another voice called out and Charland turned his head. When he looked back toward the officers, while still walking with the sword, Segura shot him three times, the video showed.

Charland was taken to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, where he died of gunshot wounds, the Clark County coroner’s office said. His death was ruled a homicide.

Court records show Charland had been arrested three times in Clark County between 2002 and 2008, in connection with charges including trespassing, disorderly conduct, battery on a police officer/school employee, resisting a public officer without a weapon, and obstructing a public officer.

He was only convicted of a misdemeanor charge of resisting a public officer without a weapon in 2003, court records show.

Charland’s death marked the third fatal police shooting involving Metro officers this year, and the seventh overall police shooting in the department.

A previous version of the story misspelled officer Vincent Segura’s name.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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