County to Consider Coroner Inquest Process - 8 News NOW

County to Consider Coroner Inquest Process

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Advocates for a coroner's inquest process gathered the day before the Clark County Commission is expected to hear the issue. Advocates for a coroner's inquest process gathered the day before the Clark County Commission is expected to hear the issue.

LAS VEGAS -- Clark County commissioners will go back to the drawing board Tuesday debating the fate of the coroner's inquest.

The police union calls the process unfair and biased, but families of those killed in officer-involved shootings are demanding a public forum.

A recent U.S. Justice Department report on Metro Police shootings called the coroner's inquest "ineffective."

Police officers refuse to take part in it, believing the process is biased against them.

The shooting death of Erik Scott at the Summerlin Costco drew massive attention to the inquest process.

Cries for reform led to changes, but then the police union decided not to take part in the proceedings, stalling inquests for two years.

The Nevada Supreme Court then ruled the process unconstitutional because the county commission didn't have the power to put a Justice of the Peace in charge.

"All we need the county commission to do is do a simple a housekeeping measure to fix the process," attorney Maggie McLetchie said. "Instead, I'm afraid that backroom dealing may allow the coroner's inquest process to be destroyed."

Supporters of an inquest said a public forum after an officer uses deadly force is essential.

"To go back to something where it's 'We're from Metro, trust us to police ourselves,' ‘We're from the (district attorney's) office' does not work, has not worked, said Allen Lichtenstein of the American Civil Liberties Union in Las Vegas.

All sides are expected to take part in Tuesday's commission meeting.

"We need something." Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak said. "I don't believe we need the coroner's inquest because we don't have a coroner's inquest right now. In light of the Supreme Court ruling, I think we need something that will accomplish several purposes. One is to help hopefully restore confidence in Metro and the officers of Metro."

Sisolak said he hopes that whatever process is decided will give closure for the officers and for the families of those shot and killed by police.

Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said an open process is key.

"More often than not, people just need to know," she said. "And the public has an absolute right to know. I won't support a grand jury because you go behind closed doors, and I think this is the best process."

The police union said it's doubtful a coroner's inquest with officer participation will ever take place again.

A vote could come as soon as January.

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