Updated September 19, 2023 - 10:11 pm
The 17-year-old driver accused of ramming a car into a cyclist and killing him while his passenger recorded the incident on cellphone video should be charged as an adult, Las Vegas prosecutors said.
The Clark County district attorney’s office said in a statement Monday that it wants the teen certified as an adult in the killing of retired Bell, California, police chief Andreas Probst, 64.
Prosecutors also said they are hoping to file additional charges in the shocking killing, which happened at about 6 a.m. on Aug. 14 at North Tenaya Way near West Centennial Parkway in northwest Las Vegas.
The teen, whose identity hasn’t been released because of his age, is facing a charge of open murder.
“I am confident that justice will be served in this matter once this investigation is complete and the appropriate charges have been filed,” Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said in the statement.
The Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement Monday that they are still looking for the second person — also an apparent teen boy — who was in the car and who filmed the incident.
“LVMPD is actively working to identify the passenger in the car,” the Metro statement said.
Reached by text message, Probst’s widow, Crystal Probst, declined to comment.
“Being around him, it was like being next to a ray of sunshine,” said Probst’s daughter, Taylor Probst, in an Aug. 18 Review-Journal story. “He was always laughing, always smiling, offering you support, life advice, career advice.”
The sheer depravity of the video that purportedly shows the teens plowing their car into Probst from behind has sparked outrage.
“That’s pretty disgusting,” Las Vegas-based criminologist Dr. Scott Bonn said after watching the video.
‘OK to be outraged’
“I have seen it. There’s probably a combination of hurt, letdown and outrage,” said Pat Treichel, founder of Ghost Bikes Las Vegas, which places white bikes at the scenes where bicyclists were killed in Southern Nevada, including at the scene of where Probst was killed.
“I think it’s OK to be outraged,” Treichel said. “But I’m also trying to let the district attorney and the investigators do their things that they need to do for the investigation before we go beyond outrage.”
Treichel said he didn’t have an opinion yet as to whether the teen should be charged as an adult, but he did say that he hopes the perpetrator is held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
Bonn said that the video captures what he said is an escalation of the typical angsty teen behavior of yesteryear, when kids would smash mailboxes or cause vandalism, into something much more deadly. And now, he added, they’re doing it for their 15 minutes of fame by recording it on their phones and posting video of it.
Bonn said the video reminded him of an even deadlier version of the so-called “knockout game,” a social media phenomenon of a few years ago in which teens would pummel unsuspecting bystanders, with sometimes fatal consequences. One of the males sounds like he says, “Knockout” as the car speeds away, Bonn noted.
In the video, the alleged teen driver, as well as what sounds like another teen, are heard talking and laughing as the car speeds toward a man on his bike.
“Ready?” one of the males says. “Hit his a—,” the other one says. The footage shows the cyclist being struck from behind and tossed like a rag doll up over the car. The cellphone then turns to capture the cyclist landing on the ground as the car keeps driving.
Bonn said it would be appropriate for the driver to be charged as an adult.
“In the case of the driver, I think that that makes sense, absolutely, because this is a particularly heinous act,” Bonn said.
Amid the outrage sparked by the video, legions of commenters including X owner Elon Musk, have trained their criticisms and ire at the Las Vegas Review-Journal for its coverage of the incident. A horde of less prominent but incredibly hostile commenters have followed suit with their vitriol, lobbing all kinds of unprintable harassment at the newspaper and its staff — seemingly based on a mistaken belief that the Review-Journal is downplaying the story.
Aug. 18 story predates video revelation
Their assumption is seemingly based on their belief that an Aug. 18 story about the incident was written in recent days, around the same time as the video going viral, and therefore should include mention of the video or characterize the incident as an alleged murder.
But the story doesn’t include these developments because it predates them.
The Review-Journal learned about the video the morning of Aug. 31, when a source notified the paper of its existence and provided the video to a reporter.
The Review-Journal directed the source to notify police about the video, but it wasn’t clear if the source did that, or not.
About seven hours later that day, Metro announced that detectives had learned about a video two days earlier, on Aug. 29. After viewing the video, police said in the Aug. 31 announcement, detectives determined that the hit-and-run was intentional and that the teen suspect was being charged with open murder.
This story has been updated to correct the window of time before police announced Probst’s death a homicide.
Contact Brett Clarkson at firstname.lastname@example.org.