New Las Vegas police videos from Oct. 1 show more radio issues

Updated July 19, 2018 - 9:19 am

Newly released body camera footage from the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting contains additional examples of the many radio troubles Las Vegas police experienced during the massive emergency response.

A recent Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation revealed that officers experienced overloaded radio channels and spotty radio reception during the Oct. 1 shooting, which left 58 concertgoers dead and more than 700 wounded. Officers also were unable to communicate directly with firefighters and paramedics.

The Metropolitan Police Department declined to comment Wednesday.

In one newly released video — recorded nearly an hour after the last volley of gunfire — a pair of officers can be heard discussing the moment they came under fire on the Strip, just outside the festival venue. The pair took cover behind parked patrol cars.

“Were you there when the glass was shattering on that patrol car?” one officer asks.

“Uh huh,” says Metro officer Christopher Del Villar, whose body camera was recording the exchange.

“You know, the bad thing was,” the other officer continues, “the patrol cars pulled up right where the shots were being fired.”

“Well,” Del Villar replies, “we didn’t know where it was.”

The other officer says he tried to broadcast a warning over police radio for officers to avoid Las Vegas Boulevard, but “we couldn’t even get on the radio to tell them not to go there.”

Records indicate another officer was able to broadcast a similar warning at some point, so it remains unclear how long of a delay the cited problem caused. That spot on Las Vegas Boulevard is where Metro officers Casey Clarkson and Brady Cook were injured by gunfire. Both survived.

“We thought (the gunfire) was coming from inside the festival,” Del Villar continues.

“No, I, I, I heard it coming from Mandalay Bay,” the other officer replies. “Just — you can’t get on the radio.”

In a separate scene on the same video, another officer also can be heard citing “bad radio reception.”

‘We don’t wait’

Police released 14 body camera videos Wednesday, mostly from either the festival grounds or from within Mandalay Bay, where the gunman’s 32nd-floor suite was located. It marked the 11th court-ordered release since early May of Las Vegas police records from Oct. 1.

In another video — filmed sometime after officers, including at least two from SWAT, cleared the gunman’s suite — two officers can be heard discussing the development.

“It shouldn’t have been SWAT, though,” one officer says, referring to the team that entered the suite.

“It should have been us,” the other says, referring to patrol officers in general.

“It’s an active shooter shooting in a crowd,” the first officer says. “We don’t wait.”

Previously released footage showed that a pair of Las Vegas police officers made it to the 31st floor — one floor beneath the gunman — about five minutes into the 10-minute shooting. The pair then held their position for nearly five minutes, not advancing toward the stairwell until after the final volley of gunfire.

A Las Vegas police spokeswoman has said that “every officer’s actions that night are being evaluated.”

The footage released Wednesday also includes a scene where injured officer Clarkson, who was struck in the neck, asks another officer if his wound, which had been wrapped in gauze, is still bleeding. The other officer checks the wound with his flashlight.

“Yeah, a little bit, but you’re good,” the officer replies.

Clarkson then helps evacuate several concertgoers from the festival grounds.

‘Tell her I’m OK’

Also caught on video: an empathetic order that one officer gave a group of other officers, shortly after clearing a large portion of Mandalay Bay’s casino floor.

“Hey, couple of you at a time: If you guys have loved ones or something like that that are texting you, answer real quick and say you’re OK,” the officer says. “’Cause my phone has been blowing up.”

In response, another officer says his phone died. So someone lends him a phone.

“Hey, call my mom and tell her I’m OK, OK?” the officer asks a loved one on the other end of the line, explaining that his phone died. “In case she heard about the active shooter on the Strip.”

More Oct. 1 records are expected next week. Last week, Metro released three clips of aerial surveillance footage from the scene, seven body camera files and eight collections of emergency radio transmissions.

Police previously released more than 3,000 pages of witness statements and officer reports, as well as 911 calls and additional body camera footage. Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo has said a final report on the massacre will be released by the end of the month.

Contact Rachel Crosby at rcrosby@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @rachelacrosby on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Katelyn Newberg contributed to this report.

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