The Clark County district attorney’s office decided Friday not to prosecute two veteran Las Vegas police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a DUI suspect.
Metropolitan Police Department Detective Scott Mendoza said at a fact-finding review Friday that the suspect, Kenneth Busse, exhibited signs of suicidal behavior several times before the Oct. 10 shooting.
Mendoza said police initially were called to Rainbow Boulevard south of Gary Avenue around 7:10 a.m. after Busse caused a three-car crash near a school bus. Mendoza said a toxicology report revealed that Busse had cocaine, marijuana, Xanax and hydrocodone in his system.
Witnesses told officers at the scene that they believed Busse was impaired, the Las Vegas Review-Journal previously reported.
Just after the crash, Mendoza said, Busse texted his ex-girlfriend’s mother to tell her he was in an accident and that “he’s more depressed and suicidal than he’s ever been and he wants to do it right now,” Mendoza said.Police body camera footage showed 21-year-old Busse arguing with officer Chad Betts about a field sobriety test before Busse ran about 10 yards away to a nearby bush, where he pulled out a 9 mm handgun and shot at Betts once. Police believe a second bullet was jammed in the chamber.
Betts and his partner, officer Kenneth Pilette, both fired at Busse. Pilette was 20 yards away and fired four shots that missed Busse, but Betts fired two shots and killed him.
After Busse fell, Betts is heard on the video telling Busse “don’t touch it” as he reaches for his weapon.
Busse suffered two gunshot wounds to the chest and died at the scene.
“Although I can’t answer as to why each officer shot as many rounds as they did, I can tell you that when we’re trained as officers when we’re firing weapons, it’s to incapacitate or stop the threat,” Mendoza testified.
Betts has been with Metro since October 1999, and Pilette has been with the department since July 1998.
Mendoza said some Metro officers undergo crisis intervention training, which helps them prepare for situations involving mentally ill people, but he did not know if Betts or Pilette had that training.
Busse’s aunt, Patricia Hoeg, said in a statement Friday that she hoped his death would bring more awareness of mental health issues. She said she hoped all officers would be trained to recognize signs of mental illness so those like Busse “are helped rather than ending up dead.”
Busse was self-employed building wheelchair ramps for veterans and had graduated from Durango High School in 2015, according to an obituary submitted to the Review-Journal.
The obituary described him as a “kind hearted man who made everyone laugh all the time.”