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NLV police apologize after revealing 2 more undisclosed killings

North Las Vegas police on Thursday revealed two homicides that were previously unknown to the public.

The announcement of the Sunday and Monday killings of a man and a boy, respectively, came after a media report of another homicide on May 17 that was previously unknown to the public — and sparked questions of why that one and other homicides in North Las Vegas in recent months were also not publicly announced.

In response, North Las Vegas police announced Thursday that four homicides have taken place in the city in the latter half of May.

In an interview Thursday, North Las Vegas Police Department spokesperson and officer Brian Thomas apologized on behalf of the police department for not releasing the information about the killings. He pledged that the department will be more transparent going forward.

‘Our policy is obviously to inform’

Asked if there was a formal or informal policy directing police and their spokespeople to not announce murders in the city, Thomas said there wasn’t.

“No, there’s no policy on that,” he said. “Our policy is obviously to inform (the media).”

The two slayings announced Thursday were not previously known to the media and public include:

On Sunday, officers were dispatched to the 1500 block of Honey Vista Lane, near North Martin Luther King Boulevard and West Gowan Road, after reports of a shooting, police said. On Thursday, the Clark County coroner’s office said that in that case, Demarkie Montez, 32, died of gunshot wounds to the back.

On Monday, officers were dispatched to the 2100 block of North Las Vegas Boulevard, just north of East Lake Mead Boulevard, after reports of a shooting. In that case, the coroner Thursday said Kristopher Cisneros, 17, died of a gunshot wound to the chest.

In the May 17 homicide, which was first reported by KLAS-TV, Channel 8 on Wednesday and previously unknown to the wider public before that, Roddrick Antoine Beasley, 35, was shot and killed in the 6000 block of Clovelly Street, according to police and the coroner’s office. In the Channel 8 story, the victim’s family expressed anger that the killing wasn’t made public.

The Review-Journal and other media outlets reported on the May 21 killing of 14-year-old Aiden Hyder in the days after it happened. In that case, there also was no announcement.

In the case, Kathleen Richards, the city’s public information officer for public safety, released informationwhen a Review-Journal reporter asked about it. Richards initially called it a “possible homicide” because the coroner’s office hadn’t yet determined a cause of death. Hyder’s death has since been deemed a homicide.

Other North Las Vegas killings in recent months were only made public after friends and family came forward. The Review-Journal broke the story of the killing of mixed-martial arts fighter Anthony Castrejon in early February. In that killing, there was also no police announcement.

By and large, law enforcement agencies publicly announce that a killing has taken place in their jurisdiction. Even if investigators typically don’t want a lot of information about the case released, the mere fact that the homicide has taken place is reported to the media and, by extension, the public.

The basic rationale is that residents deserve to know when homicides happen in their community. From an investigative perspective, publicizing a homicide can also bring forth witnesses who might have information crucial to solving the case.

Oversights happened

Thomas said the police and city have been building a new communications team over the past few months, and during that process oversights happened that resulted in information not being released. Asked on Thursday if Police Chief Jacqueline Gravatt would be available for interview to speak about these issues, Thomas said she wasn’t.

In an email, he said that all four homicides are under investigation and that no arrests have been made. Thomas said that North Las Vegas police detectives have solved nine out of the city’s 12 homicides that have occurred in 2023 — a total that also wasn’t known to the public until Thursday.

Thomas also said that the solving of a homicide means that detectives have identified a suspect and has probable cause to arrest them. In some of those cases, the suspect hasn’t been arrested.

Contact Brett Clarkson at bclarkson@reviewjournal.com.

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