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Inquest in Costco shooting to be televised

The coroner’s inquest for the fatal police shooting of Erik Scott at the Summerlin Costco will be televised on Clark County’s cable channel.

Commissioners on Tuesday approved leaving Channel 4 open Sept. 22-24 for a live broadcast of the hearing and asked county staff to look into airing future inquests.

“There was such an overwhelming outcry for public transparency,” said Commissioner Steve Sisolak, who suggested broadcasting Scott’s inquest. “I think it’s a good idea to make this transparent.”

Commissioners had to approve the telecast because it will bump the county’s zoning meeting from the air on Sept. 22.

Three Las Vegas police officers fatally shot Scott, 38, a U.S. Military Academy at West Point graduate, on July 10 outside the Costco. Witnesses have given conflicting accounts about whether he ignored police commands and pulled a gun.

A seven-person jury will decide whether the shooting was justified, excusable or criminal.

Scott’s family members and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada applauded the decision to televise the inquest, saying it will allow the public to see how one-sided the hearings are.

Lisa Mayo-DeRiso, who represents Scott’s family, read a written statement Tuesday to the commission.

The district attorney’s office and Metropolitan Police Department have access to the recorded 911 call, the surveillance videos and other evidence that the family’s attorneys don’t have, Mayo-DeRiso said.

These officials control how the evidence is presented at the inquest, including who gets to speak, she said.

“We want every citizen of Clark County to watch this coroner’s inquest, knowing that Erik Scott’s family and lawyer are sitting in that courtroom, effectively gagged, banned from speaking a single word, unable to challenge even the most outrageous claim the DA and Metro choose to level at Erik,” she said.

Commissioner Lawrence Weekly questioned why the county was televising an inquest that involved a white, West Point graduate from a nice family and not past inquests into the police shootings of poor minorities.

“It just concerns me … because these situations have been going on a long time,” Weekly said, adding that it has been a “black and brown issue.”

Weekly asked whether future inquests could be broadcast.

Sisolak said he would favor televising all of them and that he never meant to slight anyone. County Manager Virginia Valentine said a policy could be set.

“I know your intentions are good,” Weekly told Sisolak. “It can be an educational tool for the whole community.”

Contact reporter Scott Wyland at swyland@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.

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