LAS VEGAS >> Charges including involuntary manslaughter were dropped Thursday against a former Las Vegas police officer accused of using an unapproved chokehold in the death of an unarmed man following a chase out of a casino last year.
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said he sought dismissal of the case because a grand jury last week refused to indict the former officer, Kenneth Christopher Lopera, in the death of 40-year-old Tashii Farmer Brown, who was from Hawaii.
Prosecutors will in coming weeks publicly air in a noncourt venue “very similar if not the exact same evidence” that was presented in secret to grand jurors, Wolfson said.
The case spawned community protests and a federal excessive-force and wrongful-death lawsuit on behalf of Brown’s children which is pending.
Video from Lopera’s body camera and casino security views showed Lopera using a stun gun on Brown seven times, punching him more than 10 times and putting him in what police called an unapproved chokehold for more than a minute.
Lopera had been the first Las Vegas police officer to face a manslaughter charge since 1990 in a city where police shootings and uses of force drew criticism and led to reform recommendations in 2012 from the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
The former officer could have faced up to eight years in prison if he had been convicted of involuntary manslaughter and oppression under color of office.
Brown 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.