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‘I’m ready to die’: Man killed by officers was about to stab woman, police say

Updated June 12, 2024 - 7:17 pm

Officers burst through a Las Vegas apartment window Saturday night and opened fire on a man about to stab a woman with a two-prong fork after the man had told a dispatcher, “I’m ready to die.”

The man, identified as Maurice Smith, 43, died at a hospital from gunshot wounds after two officers fired a total of six shots at him, Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Jamie Prosser said at a news conference Tuesday.

The officers who opened fire at Smith were Alfredo Ramirez Chavez, 23, a two-year veteran, and Cruz Littlefield, 24, also a two-year veteran. Chavez fired his 9mm handgun five times while Littlefield fired his 9mm once, according to Prosser.

It was the fourth police shooting, all of them fatal, involving Metro so far this year. That’s compared with two officer shootings with no fatalities over the same period last year, according to Prosser.

At 11:10 p.m., officers answered an emergency call about a domestic disturbance in the 5000 block of East Craig Road near North Nellis Boulevard in northeastern Las Vegas, where a woman was being held hostage, police said.

Smith himself had been the 911 caller, saying, “When police get here, I am ready to die,” Prosser said at the conference.

In a recording of the 911 call, a woman could be heard in the background “screaming that she had been hit with a wrench and that Smith was armed with a knife,” Prosser said.

Also in the 911 recording, which Prosser played at the news conference, Smith could he heard yelling “I’m ready to die tonight!” amid the victim’s screams.

When several officers arrived at the apartment complex, they saw a door to a unit open with Smith inside and armed with what police believed was a knife, according to Prosser.

In a video played at the news conference, Smith, standing against the door with police lights on him, is seen confining the victim in a chokehold with the weapon tucked behind the victim’s back, the assistant sheriff said.

The victim was then able to free herself from Smith and an officer deployed a low-lethal shotgun, firing four rounds that missed the suspect, Prosser said.

Smith then resumed holding the victim with his arm around her neck and following pleas by officers to negotiate, Smith told officers he was going to kill the woman, Prosser said.

“Just drop what you’re doing,” an officer is heard saying in a body-worn camera video. “We don’t want to hurt you, sir.”

Smith then pulled the woman back into the apartment and officers, as seen on body camera footage, immediately rushed the front window. One officer used a shield to crash through the glass, at which time officers’ flashing lights into the room revealed Smith on the floor with the victim, Prosser said.

“Still armed, as Smith reached to stab the victim in the neck with a two-prong fork, both Officer Ramirez Chavez and Littlefield discharged their duty weapons,” Prosser said.

“The victim was rescued from the apartment and officers began life-saving measures on Smith,” Prosser said.

Smith and the woman were transported to University Medical Center where Smith died soon afterwards, while the woman remained there and was being treated for injuries, Prosser said.

During the press conference, Prosser showed a TV screen with a still image taken seconds before the shooting when “Smith attempted to stab the victim,” she said.

Contact Jeff Burbank at jburbank@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0382. Follow him @JeffBurbank2 on X.

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