NOTE: this post was originally published at NVCopBlock.org under the title “LVMPD Officer Kenneth Lopera Only Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter For Murder of Tashii Brown”
On Monday June 5, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo announced during a press conference that Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Officer Kenneth Lopera would be charged with involuntary manslaughter for the murder of Tashii Brown (also identified as Tashii Farmer in initial news reports). Along with that charge, he has also been charged with “oppression under color of office.” Both of those charges are low level felonies, carrying just one to four years of potential jail time. (See the first video embedded below for footage of the press conference.)
As has been previously noted here, Tashii was choked to death on May 14th at The Venetian Hotel and Casino, which is located on the Las Vegas Strip after askeing Lopera and another officer for help, stating that he thought someone was chasing him. Instead of providing that help they began treating him as if they were going to arrest him, making him more afraid and leading to him attempting to run away.
Ofc. Lopera chased him into the Venetian’s parking garage, tased him seven times, assaulted him repeatedly, and then used an illegal rear naked choke hold to kill him. In spite of the fact that Tashii Brown had not committed any crime or been suspected of doing so and was not attempting to attack anyone (including the police officers present) physically and was only trying to get away, he was violently attacked and eventually choked to death. (See body camera videos embedded below.)
Lopera could have actually helped Brown instead of treating him like someone that needed to be arrested, thus likely avoiding the entire confrontation. Also, at the time that he began choking him, Brown was already being held down my at least two security guards working for the Venetian. So there was no reason whatsoever for Lopera to commit the murderous act that he did that night or even any of the abusive acts that preceded it. In addition, even after being told several times (at least) by other officers to release Brown, Lopera continued choking him for over a full minute.
What’s more, Metro spokesmen have even admitted that Brown had not committed any crime, was not suspected of a crime at the time, and in fact would not have been charged with any crime had he survived Lopera’s attack. That, of course, came during an earlier press conference in which LVMPD Undersheriff Kevin McMahill (who has a history of his own) smeared Brown’s name in Metro’s now very familiar strategy used to justify the violent behavior of their officers when they kill someone and went out of his way to refer to him as “the suspect.”
Much has been made in the media about this having been the first Las Vegas police officer to be charged with a crime after killing a citizen. And as much of an outrageous fact as that is, that certainly could be viewed as a very small step in the right direction. However, instead of being charged with the crime of murder, which he actually committed, Officer Kenneth Lopera has only charged with involuntary manslaughter, essentially saying that it was just an accident and carrying only a four year maximum sentence. The reality is that it wasn’t involuntary and it wasn’t manslaughter.
This amounts to a cover up designed to appease the public that they knew would be outraged by the typical routine whitewashing of police violence in Las Vegas. They charged him with the bare minimum possible to buy themselves a little time until everyone forgets and they can let him off on a sham trial after the district attorney throws the case. It was a preventable and very much intentional act by Ofc. Lopera. It wasn’t something that just happened or an accidental result.
It was murder.