Commissioners Debate Police Shooting Reviews - 8 News NOW

Commissioners Debate Police Shooting Reviews

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LAS VEGAS -- The coroner's inquest might never return.

In Clark County, the hearings would determine responsibility when a police officer used deadly force, but now it could be replaced by a new type of forum with another name.

Some commissioners said they want the coroner's inquest, as it was, to move forward.

Others want to return to the drawing board. On Tuesday, Sheriff Doug Gillespie made some suggestions for an inquest process.

Gillespie offered a list of changes to the coroner's inquest, including involving a hearing master, and an ombudsman to represent the family of those shot and killed by officers.

But officers would not be under oath and the forum would be just a presentation of facts. It's unlikely it would be in a courtroom.

"People can draw conclusions on their own, based on those facts being presented, in regards to the actions of the officer," Gillespie said.

Coroner's inquests have been on hold for two years, and officers don't participate because their union believes the fact-finding hearings are biased against them. But the sheriff's new suggestions, supported with some commissioners, could be a game changer.

Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said she wants to proceed with the coroner's inquest as it was.

Meanwhile, families are waiting for answers. Alma Chavez's son, Rafael Olivas, was killed as he held a knife in July 2011.

"I came here to support the coroner's inquest," Chavez said. "I think that me, as other families, need answers. I'm supporting because we need to know what happened. I don't want to wait years and years and years to know what they did."

Evie Oquendo's bipolar son, Tanner Chamberlain, was also shot by Metro Police officers, as he held a knife. She felt the process favored the officers.

"I had an inquest, and it was a sham," she said. "It was over with by lunch time."

District Attorney Steve Wolfson is in the meantime reviewing officer-involved shootings. A vote could come as soon as January.

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