Shooter’s girlfriend gets tentative OK to regain custody of children

The girlfriend of a man who shot three Metropolitan Police Department SWAT officers was allowed to reunite with her children after a judge on Wednesday granted temporary custody to the children’s grandmother.

The mother, 33-year-old Belinda Saavedra, will regain permanent custody after she passes a drug test and after her new home is inspected, a Family Court judge ruled on Wednesday.

After the hearing, an emotional Saavedra was overjoyed by the upcoming return of her three children, who have been in protective custody since the Sunday night shooting at her Henderson home.

Officers were attempting to serve a narcotics search warrant.

"I want my babies home now," she said, clutching her son’s sports trophy and family photographs.

Saavedra’s boyfriend, 32-year-old Emmanuel Dozier, remained in jail on more than $3 million bail for three counts of attempted murder of a police officer and three counts of possession of a controlled substance.

The couple’s 3-month-old son and Saavedra’s 13-year-old daughter were home during the shooting, which left three SWAT officers wounded with non-life threatening injuries. Her 12-year-old son was not home at the time but was also placed in protective custody.

Saavedra also leveled accusations at the Las Vegas officers who responded to the incident.

"I was kicked in the back, my hair was pulled, my daughter’s hair was pulled," Saavedra said.

A neighbor said she witnessed some of what Saavedra described.

"They had the daughter by the hair," said 53-year-old Lorraine Berkos, who lives across the street from Saavedra in the Seven Hills neighborhood in Henderson. "She kept saying, тWhy are you pulling my hair?’ And the cop was just saying, тShut the (expletive) up.’Ф"

Berkos, who at roughly 9:30 p.m. was watching the incident from an open bedroom window in her home, said she also saw Saavedra being kneed by an officer after Saavedra walked out of the home. She did not see Saavedra’s hair being pulled, she said.

"They were just really brutal," Berkos said.

Las Vegas police Sgt. John Loretto declined to comment specifically on the allegations.

"The entire event is being investigated by the department and any allegations of misconduct will be dealt with," Loretto said.

Police were serving a search warrant at the home based on small amounts of cocaine that undercover detectives had purchased from Dozier at the home at 2972 Panorama Ridge Drive, according to his arrest report.

Three times in December, an undercover detective pulled up in front of the couple’s home, bought less than 4 grams of cocaine from Dozier for $180 each time, and drove away, the arrest report states.

While serving the warrant on Sunday, police said three SWAT officers went to the door and announced that they were police serving a warrant. When they received no response, they fired lock-breaching rounds into the metal security door.

That’s when Dozier fired at the officers, hitting all three men in the thigh and one of them in the hand. The officers did not return fire.

Berkos heard the screams of a wounded officer on the ground when she saw Dozier walk out of the house and surrender.

"All I saw was they had thrown the guy on the sidewalk and had started kicking him, and then they had yanked him up and picked him up," she said.

Police said on Tuesday that a routine use of force report had been filed against one of the officers who gave Dozier a black eye while Dozier was resisting arrest. That report will be reviewed by the officer’s superiors and the department’s Internal Affairs section.

Dozier told police after the shooting that he "wasn’t sure" it was police at the door and that he believed the incident was a home invasion.

Saavedra had called 911 before shots were fired claiming that her home was being broken into.

Police said no cocaine was found in the home but they did find a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

The injured officers were released from University Medical Center on Monday. Police identified the officers as: Sgt. James Causey, 46, a 25-year veteran of the department; Officer Patrick Ledbetter, 41, a 13-year veteran of the department; and Officer Charles Collingwood, 59, a 15-year veteran of the department.

Berkos said she didn’t know Saavedra or Dozier personally but that they seemed like a nice family.

Saavedra said her children are honor roll students and well-behaved. They won’t return to the house, she said. Instead, they’ll stay at a cousin’s house once Saavedra regains custody.

Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at lmower@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0440.

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