In the absence of further evidence from law enforcement, the family of a man shot and killed by Las Vegas police during a Black Lives Matter protest last month held a press conference and vigil Wednesday to urge any witnesses to the shooting to come forward.
More than a dozen surveillance cameras were active around the Lloyd D. George Courthouse when 25-year-old Jorge Gomez was shot 19 times by four Metropolitan Police Department officers, but his family has seen only an edited clip from one of them.
“We just want transparency and clarity,” Gomez’s mother, Jeanne Llera, said during a briefing outside the federal courthouse on Wednesday. “We’re not asking for you to make miracles to bring them back. But at least show us what happened to my son.”
No body camera footage exists from the shooting because the officers at the scene either did not wear them or did not turn them on.
Las Vegas police said that an officer briefly spoke with Gomez before firing five less-than-lethal rounds at Gomez’s back, but have not reported what the conversation entailed.
Four other officers, who were heading to another shooting at Circus Circus that left Metro officer Shay Mikalonis seriously injured, stopped their vehicles and exited when they saw Gomez running.
Police say that Gomez appeared to raise his weapon at the officers. His family and others who witnessed the shooting say he was just trying to run from the officer firing less-than-lethal rounds.
“My daughter went to West Point, his dad is a K-9 officer, my other half is Homeland Security, so we are not anti-cops,” Llera said. “He was never anti-cops or anything like that. He was just anti-corruption.”
Attorneys Edgar Flores and Rodolfo Gonzales, who represent Gomez’s family, said that they have made multiple public record requests to federal and local law enforcement agencies for video footage, but have been denied at every turn.
“Not a single additional piece of evidence, not a single additional piece of camera footage, not a single piece of paper, after the requests were made, has been presented to the family,” Flores said.
The attorneys announced the family intends to file a lawsuit against the department and the officers involved. “It appears that if you ever want to get some type of justice and some transparency, apparently a lawsuit is the only thing that will get them to do it,” Flores said
Llera said that Gomez moved to Las Vegas with his family as a teenager, then returned a few months ago to live with his father due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He hadn’t been protesting or an activist or anything like that before,” Llera said.
The night Gomez died, he spoke to the mother of a man who was killed by Las Vegas police in 2016, Llera said.
“He gave a mother a hug, that had lost her son and whispered in her ear, you know, ‘Be strong, tell your story,’” Llera said. “And when we did our last vigil walk, she came to me and said, ‘Be strong, tell your story’.”
Llera apologized as she paused to wipe away tears.
“So that’s what we’re doing,” she said.