Witnesses Provide Conflicting Testimony in Coroner's Inquest - 8 News NOW

Witnesses Provide Conflicting Testimony in Coroner's Inquest

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Howard Brooks Howard Brooks
Clayton Phillips Clayton Phillips
Picture of Erik Scott taken at Costco Picture of Erik Scott taken at Costco
Gun found in Erik Scott's pocket Gun found in Erik Scott's pocket

LAS VEGAS -- Much of the questioning in the coroner's inquest into the police shooting of Erik Scott has focused on where Scott's gun was at the moment he was shot to death.

As the inquest entered its fifth day of testimony, Costco shoppers and employees testified, sometimes with contradicting stories about what they witnessed.

Clayton Phillips, a Costco employee who was shopping after his shift, said he was only eight to 10 feet away from Scott at the time of the shooting. He testified he clearly heard officers shout, "Get down. Get down. Drop your weapon." 

"As he pulled his firearm out, and as his hand come up like this, I immediately heard the first shot. I was immediately stunned for a moment, and I thought here we go. We're going to have a shootout," said Phillips.

"He brought his other hand around, and he got it up there," said Costco employee Bettie Lou Travis. "I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh. He's going to pull a gun.'"

"Erik put his hand here, pulled out a gun, pointed it at the officer," said Costco shopper Lee Mendell. "The next thing I knew, there was a shot."

One witness with a law enforcement background, shopper Ronald Montgomery, said the cops had no choice but to shoot Scott, because he says Scott did not obey their orders. "The weapon coming up and pointing in their direction, what else can you do," he asked.

But another witness, a criminal defense attorney who happened to witness the shooting, said the first officer (Officer William Mosher) seemed nervous and aggressive prior to the shooting. Howard Brooks said he saw three officers, and all had their weapons drawn.

"Suddenly the police officer says, 'Drop it.' Bam, bam, bam. It was absolutely immediate. I told the police that day I was roughly 15 to 20 feet from where the shooting happened," Brooks said. He added that the only thing Scott did out of the ordinary that day was get shot.

Scott's Costco membership photo was taken about an hour before he was killed. The photo was admitted into evidence. Scott family attorney Ross Goodman says officers "basically ambushed" Scott while he tried to hand the gun to them.

"He appears normal on the photograph," Goodman said. "You certainly can't tell if he has bloodshot eyes or a crazed look like some witnesses said. Instead, I think the majority of the witnesses said Erik had little time to react, if any. He looked like he was a deer caught in the headlights. He was frozen in time."

Firefighter Chris Thorpe testified he was in the ambulance that transported Scott to the hospital. He said Scott had no heartbeat and was not breathing during transport. Medics tried CPR to revive him but were unsuccessful.

Late Monday, Metro homicide detective Peter Calos took the stand to talk about the firearms Scott was carrying the day of the shooting. Det. Calos showed the jury Scott's Kimber .45 that was found at the scene of the shooting. Calos also showed the Ruger .380 handgun found in Scott's pocket as he was being transported to the hospital.

In addition to questioning by the District Attorney's office, interested parties and the jury are able to ask the witnesses questions. Since the beginning of the inquest, there have been more than 1,000 questions submitted and asked.

Two officers involved in the shooting, Joshua Stark and Thomas Mendiola, could take the stand Tuesday morning. Testimony is expected to be completed by Wednesday.

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