One of the 23 shots fired by Las Vegas police officers during a “running gun battle” in a northwest valley neighborhood Thursday killed K-9 Nicky, the department said Monday.
James Craig Simpson, 31, was shot multiple times by four different officers, including the police dog’s handler. After police confronted Simpson, they discovered two people had been shot and killed in a nearby home.
At Monday’s media briefing, Metropolitan Police Department Undersheriff Kevin McMahill described the events that lead up to Simpson exchanging gunfire with the officers.
Police were dispatched about noon Thursday to 9848 Fast Elk St., near Log Cabin and North El Capitan ways, where Simpson’s mother had called the police because of his erratic behavior and brandishing of a handgun with a large extended magazine.
Simpson had put the gun on the street but picked it back up when the police dog started coming after him, according to a Las Vegas police report. He grabbed the gun and started running, and it was then that police said he turned around and fired once toward the officers, who shot back.
Metro‘s media briefing on last week‘s officer-involved shooting that left 2 people and a K9, Nicky, dead.
Posted by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Monday, April 4, 2016
Sgt. Eric Kerns, the police dog’s handler, fired five rounds from his service pistol; Officer James Coovert fired four rounds from his pistol; Officer Abudhabi Lewis fired six rounds from his pistol; and Officer Carlos Luna fired four shotgun rounds and four rounds from his pistol. It was not clear which shot killed Nicky.
The department played a selection of Lewis’ body-worn camera footage at the media briefing that showed the officer pleading with Simpson to comply.
“Do not go near the gun,” he said on the film. “Relax. Please don’t do this.”
Kerns also recorded body camera footage, but that video was not made available at the briefing.
Bullets from the running gunbattle left holes in the garage doors of two separate homes. Simpson was struck by two handgun rounds and four shotgun pellets, the department said.
McMahill said Monday that the man was in critical, but stable, condition. On Thursday night Simpson was said to be paralyzed from the neck down.
Simpson was booked in absentia from his hospital bed at University Medical Center to face two counts of first-degree murder, three counts of discharging a firearm into an occupied structure, and one count each of attempted murder and first-degree kidnapping. McMahill said additional charges connected to shooting at officers will be tacked on as the investigation unfolds.
Las Vegas police operate in an area of the hospital, where Simpson will be kept in custody as the case against him progresses.
McMahill was unable to share many details about the two homicide victims, identified last week as Brandon Hughes, 31, and his mother, Felecia Wimberly-Hughes, 46, due to an active investigation. Public records show that the two lived next door to Simpson’s mother.
Simpson was visiting his mother at her home and spent the morning saying that people were after him, that people were following him, according to a police report.
Simpson and his mother fought throughout the home as she tried to get him to put down the handgun. The argument moved into the garage, where they were approached by the Hugheses.
Simpson and his mother struggled over the gun, according to police records, and Simpson shot Brandon Hughes in the garage.
Wimberly-Hughes began to try to give her son first aid, but Simpson grabbed her by her hair and hit her with the gun. An officer would later find Wimberly-Hughes’ body by the front of the garage, according to police records. She had been shot.
The police dog, Nicky, had returned to duty less than a month ago after recovering from a machete attack in a February standoff. His funeral will be held Wednesday afternoon.
When asked how deploying Nicky fit in with the department’s emphasis on de-escalation tactics, McMahill said that it was “certainly within protocols.”
Simpson “clearly was not complying with the officers to step away (from the gun) and the K-9 would’ve been an opportunity to take him into custody without allowing him to get custody of that weapon again. Clearly it didn’t work out that way, but that was the plan,” he said.
This was Metro’s fourth officer-involved shooting this year.
Contact Wesley Juhl at firstname.lastname@example.org and 702-383-0391. Find @WesJuhl on Twitter.