Two Las Vegas officers implicated in fatal crash

Las Vegas police have recommended charging two officers involved in the fatal crash of a suspected drunken driver in May.

The charges could result in prison time for one officer, who was not identified by police. But the department has named 29-year-old Aron Carpenter, a four-year veteran, as the officer whose patrol car hit the driver’s vehicle.

The officer in question could be charged with two counts of felony reckless driving and one count of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter.

Metropolitan Police Department officials recommend charges of misdemeanor reckless driving for a second officer, who also was not named.

A conviction for felony reckless driving could mean up to six years in prison on each charge.

Clark County District Attorney David Roger said his office received the department’s case on Monday, but a decision has not been made on whether to charge the officers.

“We’re not close to making a decision yet,” he said.

The two officers were involved in the pursuit of 26-year-old Ivan Carrillo about 10 p.m. on May 19. A motorist that night had called police claiming that Carrillo, in his black Honda Civic, was driving slowly and weaving between travel lanes near Lamb Boulevard and Carey Avenue. The person said the driver may have been impaired.

A motorcycle officer followed the vehicle and requested additional marked patrol cars, police said. When Carrillo didn’t stop, patrol officers turned off their lights and sirens but continued to follow him.

At the intersection of Lamb and Lone Mountain Road, Carpenter struck Carrillo’s car, sending it into the northbound lanes and into the path of a Ford Contour and a Dodge Ram pickup, police said.

Carrillo died at University Medical Center.

The two officers, who were driving patrol cars, may have violated department policy by continuing to pursue Carrillo. Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said he couldn’t comment on any policy violations regarding the incident because of an ongoing internal investigation into their actions.

“There are aspects of the pursuit that don’t coincide with our policy,” he said.

Part of the investigation will look at whether Carpenter used the Precision Intervention Technique, also called PIT, to spin out Carrillo’s car. The department’s officers are trained to use PIT to disable cars. At speeds above 40 mph, applying the technique can be considered “deadly force.”

Such incidents that result in death would go before a coroner’s inquest. But investigators found that Carpenter collided with Carrillo’s car in an accident, not a PIT maneuver, according to Clark County Coroner Mike Murphy.

“They were clearly in a pursuit at one point … but at the moment the final incident occurred, it was a motor vehicular accident,” Murphy said Monday.

Because Carpenter didn’t use the technique, there won’t be a coroner’s inquest into Carrillo’s death, Murphy said.

“Had it been the result of a PIT maneuver, we very likely would have gone to an inquest,” he said.

Medical examiners determined Carrillo died from blunt-force trauma to the head, chest and abdomen.

The crash followed the 2009 deaths of two Las Vegas officers in traffic accidents and a subsequent department crackdown on dangerous driving.

On May 7, 2009, officer James Manor was killed after he struck a pickup while driving 109 mph. Five months later, officer Milburn “Millie” Beitel was killed while avoiding a car at 71 mph. Neither officer was wearing a seat belt.

Gillespie issued mandates requiring officers to undergo more training, wear seat belts and drive no faster than 20 mph over the speed limit. In a news conference last week, he said officers’ speed-related accidents were down 68 percent in the first half of this year over last year, while accidents involving police were down 14 percent.

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

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