Ex-Hawaii resident dies after Vegas officer’s chokehold
November 20, 2017 | 79° | Check Traffic

Hawaii News

Ex-Hawaii resident dies after Vegas officer’s chokehold

LAS VEGAS >> An unarmed man who grew up in Hawaii died after a Las Vegas police officer used a stun gun seven times and a mixed martial arts chokehold to subdue him after a foot chase through a casino, authorities said.

Relatives of Tashii S. Brown want the officer fired and brought up on criminal charges, an attorney for the family said Thursday. Las Vegas police should also stop using stun guns and training officers to use a neck restraint intended to cut off the flow of blood to the brain, attorney Andre Lagomarsino said.

“This was a fatal cocktail of misconduct,” Lagomarsino said a day after a top Las Vegas police official showed body camera video of officer Kenneth Lopera using his stun gun seven times on Brown, punching Brown several times and holding him in a mixed martial arts chokehold for more than a minute after a foot chase through The Venetian casino early Sunday.

Lopera called the arm-around-the-neck maneuver a “rear naked choke,” Clark County Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said. It is not authorized for Las Vegas police.

Lopera thought Brown had tried to carjack a pickup truck with two people inside, McMahill said.

McMahill showed video from Lopera’s body camera during a news conference on the incident. Police posted video of the news conference including edited body camera and Venetian security footage to the internet.

“Don’t move! Get on your stomach!” Lopera can be heard telling the man who the Clark County coroner identified as Brown. Police have used the name Tashii Farmer. His mother said he sometimes hyphenates his last name, Farmer­-Brown.

“I will!” he can be heard saying.

The video then shows Brown on his back with his arms raised before another jolt from the stun gun makes his body stiffen. Brown cries out, “Please! Please!”

Lopera, who is white, and Brown, who is black, then wrestle as the officer attempts to handcuff him. Lopera punches Brown’s head and neck from behind as Venetian security guards join the effort and other police officers arrive.

Sheriff Joe Lombardo said there was no indication that race played a role in the incident.

Brown’s cause of death has not been determined, and an investigation is ongoing.

McMahill said Lopera was heard saying he used a “rear naked choke,” a prominent mixed martial arts chokehold that differs from a department-approved technique that some departments call a “lateral vascular neck restraint” and others refer to as a carotid artery hold.

Department officials said previously that the officer had used the approved technique, which is banned in many other cities.

McMahill said Lopera held Brown’s neck for more than a minute — far longer than the seven to 10 seconds it might take for an approved carotid restraint to render a person unconscious.

The police official said also that the driver of the pickup didn’t think Brown was trying to carjack his vehicle, and that Brown was not believed to have committed any crime.

Lopera, 31, has been a Las Vegas police officer for five years, McMahill said. He is on paid leave pending departmental and district attorney reviews of the incident.

McMahill said Brown was sweating and appeared disoriented when he initially approached Lopera and a partner in a casino coffee shop, said people were chasing him and ran into an employee-only area, down hallways and outside to the parking area.

Brown also used the name Tashi Sebastian Farmer.

He grew up in Hawaii, where records show he was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend and was released from prison in January 2016. He pleaded guilty in February in Las Vegas to misdemeanor driving under the influence.

Brown was a father of two children in Hawaii and lived with his mother in Las Vegas, where he had a business selling shoes, hats and clothing, according to Tynisa Braun, a cousin in Honolulu.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said there will be a public use-of-force review to air the findings of investigations into Brown’s death.

The sheriff said the reviews could take several months, and he asked for patience from the public.

“We’ll be fully transparent, and we will look at this event with a very critical eye,” Lombardo said.

Brown’s mother, Trinita Farmer, said she doesn’t want to see the video of the struggle that left her son dead.

“I don’t want to look,” she said. “I just want to bury my son.”

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