A friend and former colleague of a man shot by Las Vegas police after fleeing from an officer confirmed Saturday the wounded man is a local attorney who last year ran unsuccessfully for Congress on the Libertarian ticket.
The friend, a lawyer who did not want to be identified, last worked with Raymond James Duensing during the summer of 2007.
He said he spoke by phone Saturday morning with Duensing, who was recovering from his injuries at University Medical Center.
The friend said Duensing was being guarded in his hospital room by police and therefore was cautious about talking about the incident during their conversation.
The friend said Duensing, known to acquaintances as Jim, had wounds on his back and arm after being shot three times.
He added that he was surprised Duensing was shot by police Thursday afternoon after a routine traffic stop near Cheyenne Avenue and Jones Boulevard.
"I’ve known Jim for years. He’s not a nut. He’s not the kind of guy who’s going to flee from police."
Police said the officer fired his weapon after Duensing was asked to get out of his Pontiac rental car because a records check indicated he had a misdemeanor warrant for his arrest.
Police said Duensing then fled and was unsuccessfully Tased and shot several times after he reached in his front pocket for a .45-caliber handgun. Police also said Duensing reached for a large folding knife.
"He was Tased. He did tell me that," Duensing’s friend said. "I think when the officer Tased him, it scared the crap out of him. I don’t think he expected to be Tased over a traffic stop."
The friend said Duensing didn’t tell him if he had carried a weapon during the shooting. But he said Duensing does have a concealed weapons permit and also works at a gun range as a shooting instructor.
Police said in a news release that Duensing is 31, but Clark County Detention Center records, where he was booked in absentia on a charge of resisting a public officer with a weapon, indicated he’s 33.
The friend said Duensing told him he was pulled over because he drove through an intersection in a right-turn-only lane.
He said Duensing expects to be released from the hospital in two or three days and has obtained an attorney.
Duensing unsuccessfully ran for Congress against Shelley Berkley, D-Nev, in 2008, 2006 and 2004, generally garnering 2 percent to 3 percent of the vote.
Clark County Libertarian Party chairman Nathan Santucci said Duensing was the party’s state chairman until earlier this year.
"The Libertarian Party does not advocate fleeing from police as a means of peaceful conflict resolution," Santucci said. "Although he is a past officer of our party, he currently holds no official standing with our party as an elected officer. Our thoughts go out to him, his family and the officer involved in the incident."
Metropolitan Police Department policy is to release the identity of an officer who fires a weapon in the line of duty within 48 hours. As of Saturday afternoon, the identity of the officer involved in the shooting hadn’t been released. The officer has been placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.
One witness to the incident questioned whether Duensing had a gun.
Brandi Burks, 19, said she was standing outside her apartment complex on Cheyenne, west of Michael Way, when the shooting took place.
Burks said motorcycle officers had been patrolling the street heavily on Thursday, pulling over speeders.
Burks said a motorcycle officer stopped Duensing’s car on the far right lane of eastbound Cheyenne, near Michael Way.
The officer asked the driver to step out of the vehicle. Duensing stepped out and began running northwest across Cheyenne, Burks said. The officer told Duensing to stop, she said, but he kept running.
As he was running, he kept grabbing his pants, as if to hold them up, Burks said. She did not see a gun.
She saw the officer fire his gun at Duensing when he reached the sidewalk. He went down, and officers handcuffed him.
Capt. Randy Montandon, who briefed the media at the scene after the Thursday shooting, said he saw Duensing’s gun.
According to Las Vegas police policy, police can use deadly force based on the severity of the crime, whether the suspect is a threat to the officer or others and whether the suspect is actively resisting arrest or attempting to avoid arrest by fleeing.
Contact reporter Antonio Planas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4638.