Witness list delays inquest

The coroner’s inquest into the fatal shooting of the man at a busy Summerlin Costco has been indefinitely delayed partly because of the number of witnesses who might testify, Clark County District Attorney David Roger said Tuesday.

Roger said Las Vegas police haven’t submitted to his office the appropriate paperwork, including witness statements, needed to subpoena those who saw the July 10 shooting of 38-year-old Erik Scott. The inquest had been set for Sept. 3; no new date has been set.

The postponement angered attorney Ross Goodman, who is representing the Scott family.

Goodman said police have claimed key evidence, such as the 911 recording from Costco employees to police and any surveillance video, could be released at the inquest.

Citing the ongoing investigation, police have refused requests to release the 911 recording, while the hard drive from the store surveillance system remains under forensic review by a police agency in Southern California.

Goodman said the postponement of the inquest “raises the specter of suspicion.”

“This leaves the family with no answer and no information at the pure discretion of when Metro believes it should release the information,” Goodman said. “I’m unable to do any investigation because Metro controls the investigation.”

Police did not return a call late Tuesday afternoon for comment.

Roger said police bear no blame for the delay.

“We will probably need two days to present all the evidence to the inquest jury,” Roger said. “There are a lot of witnesses they (police) are interviewing.”

Because the inquest probably will take more than one day, Roger said, the original date of the inquest, the Friday before Labor Day Weekend, was problematic. He also noted that an inquest into the police shooting death of Trevon Cole is scheduled for Aug. 20, and it would tax his office to handle two inquests within two weeks.

Roger wouldn’t speculate on when the Scott inquest will be rescheduled.

Clark County Coroner Mike Murphy said such delays are rare but not unprecedented.

Three officers have been placed on routine paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation and an inquest. They are William Mosher, 38, a five-year veteran of the department; Joshua Stark, 28, and Thomas Mendiola, 23, both two-year veterans.

The shooting was not the first for Mosher, who in April 2006 was one of two officers who shot and killed a suspect in a car.

Police said Scott, a West Point and Duke University graduate, was shot after Costco employees reported a man with a gun acting erratically.

Scott, who had a permit for concealed weapons, was shot after police said he ignored commands to lie on the ground and put his hands up; instead, police said, Scott pointed a pistol at an officer.

Police said that they have spoken to about 40 witnesses and that more than a dozen said they saw Scott pull a gun. The Las Vegas Review-Journal has interviewed seven witnesses. Three said Scott drew a gun, but none of them said they saw him point it at police officers.

Goodman said 15 witnesses, including doctors and lawyers who were within five feet of the shooting, have said “unequivocally” that not only was Scott not pointing a gun, he was no threat and had no time to react to multiple police commands before he was shot.

Goodman said Scott was shot seven times, including once in the chest, once in the shoulder, and five times in the back while he was on the ground.

Goodman also said he has identified four cameras near the store entrance that might have recorded the shooting, plus a camera in the store that could show Scott’s behavior while in the store. The 911 recording and any video surveillance are critical, he said.

“The family just wants the truth to be told,” Goodman said.

Contact reporter Antonio Planas at aplanas@review or 702-383-4638.

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