Unarmed and Seeking Help, But Tasered and Then Choked to Death Instead
Shortly after midnight on May 14th, Tashii Brown-Farmer approached two Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers inside the Venetian Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Stating that he was being chased by someone, Brown-Farmer requested help from Officer Kenneth Lopera and a partner who has not yet been named. Although Brown-Farmer had a history of mental illness and was described as “acting erratically” at the time, there has been no indication or allegation that he was behaving violently at any time that night. He also was not armed in any way whatsoever, nor was there any indication that there was ever any reason to believe he might be armed.
Instead of being dealt with as someone seeking help, Brown-Farmer was instead treated by the officers (who ironically are part of the tourism safety division of the LVMPD) as someone that needed to be arrested. This caused Brown-Farmer to feel threatened and run away, initiating a chase through an employees area of the casino and eventually into the parking garage of the Venetian. That is where Officer Lopera caught up to Brown-Farmer and proceeded to taser, beat, and eventually choke him to death.
In the end, Tashii Brown-Farmer was tasered seven times, punched repeatedly, and finally placed into a “rear naked choke” hold for over a minute until he was no longer conscious nor breathing. Shortly after, he was pronounced dead at the hospital. The video embedded below shows body camera footage of the entirety of that chase and the deadly conclusion, in which Officer Kenneth Lopera unnecessarily decides to practice his mixed martial art skills on a man who is already being held down by at least two Venetian security guards.
Note: The media and the police have referred to Brown-Farmer both as “Tashii Brown” and “Tashii Farmer” (during their initial press conference, the LVMPD also spelled his first name wrong, excluding the second “i” that belongs at the end) without any official explanation for the discrepancy .
Bad Rationalizations and Media Complicity
The justification given for the deadly violence that Officer Lopera unnecessarily inflicted on Brown-Farmer was the typical “he wouldn’t comply” mantra that is often used. However, you can clearly see in the video that Lopera began using his taser on Brown-Farmer without allowing for much time at all for him to follow his orders. He then continued yelling at and tasing a man who was already having mental health issues.
The other thing that is readily apparent in the Venetian surveillance videos (embedded below within the full press conference video) is that when Ofc. Lopera began punching and hitting Brown-Farmer security guards from the casino had already began holding him down. Even more unnecessary than the punches Lopera threw was the choke hold he soon used to choke the life out of Brown-Farmer.
Not only were the security guards already there, but not long after numerous Metro police officers also arrived. There was no reason for Lopera to start choking him in the first place and there was no reason for him to continue choking him for over a minute, even after he had already lost consciousness. In spite of the initial claims released by the LVMPD, Brown-Farmer never attempted to use violence against anyone, including Officer Lopera at any point during this entire confrontation that Lopera initiated and then escalated.
However, not surprisingly, the local media has asked few questions about the official narrative and instead even allowed Metro’s PR department to downplay controversy by initially describing the prohibited rear naked choke hold as a “department authorized neck restraint.” They’ve also yet to challenge the LVMPD’s claim that Brown-Farmer was attempting to car jack the truck that was entering the parking garage as he ran by. Contrary to that claim, which the driver of the truck himself states he didn’t believe to be the case, the video only shows Brown-Farmer briefly touching the tailgate as he stops running. Not attempting to open it and not trying to enter the front (or any other part) of the truck as has been stated.
Instead, the LA Times published a fluff piece that was probably printed word for word as it was received from Metro’s PR department fawning over how “transparent” the LVMPD has become when they murder someone.
The Inevitable Smear Campaign
Of course, the one consistency with Metro is that they never fail to dig up dirt on their victims to try and deflect the attention away from the violent, unnecessary, and unrelated crimes of their officers. Brown-Farmer’s previous criminal record was displayed and highlighted during the press conference, including a murder charge that he was not convicted of. When Officer Kenneth Lopera confronted, chased, and then choked to death Tashii Brown Farmer, he was not at all aware of any of that information. Nor was that in any way relevant to the actions that Lopera took and that were clearly documented on video that night, regardless.
During that press conference, Undersheriff Kevin McMahill also continuously (and purposefully) referred to Brown-Farmer as “the suspect,” in spite of the fact that he was not actually wanted for or even suspected of any crime whatsoever. McMahill even admitted that had he not died Brown-Farmer would not have been charged with any crime. In reality, he was someone that was experiencing a medical issue. In fact, Officer Lopera’s treatment of Brown-Farmer as a suspect for a non-existent crime is what prompted him to run away in the first place.
As you can see in the video below, these type of smear campaigns are business as usual for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police (and other departments). It’s also especially hypocritical given the skeletons within Undersheriff McMahill’s own closet.
A Continued Lack of Accountability At The LVMPD
In spite of the PR campaigns they orchestrate and the willingness of the media to unquestioningly support those phony claims of “transparency” and progress, the simple truth remains that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department still has never held a single police officer within the history of their department accountable for killing someone. Regardless, of how questionable or downright unbelievable the circumstances are behind them, they get a free pass and nothing more than a paid vacation every single time.
Nothing about this case or Metro’s handling of it, indicates that it (or any other case in the near future) will be different.