I-Team: Police Encounter Armed Suspects More Often - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Police Encounter Armed Suspects More Often

Posted: Updated:
Two innocent bystanders were struck by police bullets during an officer-involved shooting Feb. 8. Two innocent bystanders were struck by police bullets during an officer-involved shooting Feb. 8.

Ed. Note: The national debate about gun violence and gun control has generated strong emotions on all sides following the recent tragedies in Connecticut and Colorado. Should Americans' Second Amendment rights be restricted in the interests of public safety, or is gun violence something that no law could curb? This is Part 11 of Guns of Nevada.

LAS VEGAS -- Officer-involved shootings are among the most controversial shootings that happen in Las Vegas.

Suave Lopez, Trevon Cole and Erik Scott are three men who had little in common other than how their lives ended. The three were killed by police. Their deaths were controversial and eventually resulted in changes to the coroner's inquest system that remain unsettled to this day.

Dig deeper into the numbers and one finds certain patterns with recent officer-involved shootings.

"When you are doing stories on these shooting scenes, and you see all the little cones out there, those are spent casings. Those are discharged rounds. Where 15 to 20 years ago, you wouldn't see those cones out there the way you do today. So you know, being a police officer today is a more dangerous job than it was when I started in this business. A lot of it has to do with the weaponry the criminal element has," said Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie.

The number of people shot by Metro Police with prior violent criminal convictions spiked to 67 percent in 2011, the last year with complete records. The numbers of officer-involved shootings go up and down with no clear pattern, except for one increasing trend. More of the suspects shot at by Metro Police are dying. The likely reason is police now fire more rounds during each officer-involved shooting, a Metro police study found.

Metro's study shows a disproportionate share of people shot by officers in past years were African Americans. Chris Collins leads the Police Protective Association.

"It's not the police who control the number of officer-involved shootings that we have, it is the suspects that control that. We respond with deadly force when confronted with a situation that warrants deadly force," Collins said.

There's a dangerous trend for police in Nevada. More people are shooting at them.

"That number is alarmingly high for me and the men and women we represent," Collins said. "Only because that's 29 officers we could have lost to gunfire."

An officer's greatest danger isn't a cop killer planning an ambush. Two-thirds of the time, it's a domestic violence situation that gets out of control. Local police have already exchanged gunfire three times with suspects in the first six weeks of 2013.

  • Guns of NevadaMore>>

  • I-Team: Former Gun Dealer Supports Background Checks

    I-Team: Former Gun Dealer Supports Background Checks

    Friday, May 3 2013 4:16 PM EDT2013-05-03 20:16:25 GMT
    LAS VEGAS -- An effort to require universal background checks for all guns sales failed in the Senate last month by six votes. Opponents of the bill insist it will not keep guns from criminals or theMore>>
    An effort to require universal background checks for all guns sales failed in the Senate last month by six votes.More>>
  • I-Team: High School Senior Deals in Arms Trade

    I-Team: High School Senior Deals in Arms Trade

    Friday, May 3 2013 8:48 PM EDT2013-05-04 00:48:15 GMT
    LAS VEGAS -- Logan Smith's backyard is in the hills bordering southwest Las Vegas where he likes to do target practice. His prized possession: an AK-47 assault rifle he recently bought on armslist.com. Armslist.comMore>>
    Logan Smith's backyard is in the hills bordering southwest Las Vegas where he likes to do target practice. His prized possession: an AK-47 assault rifle he recently bought on armslist.com.More>>
  • I-Team: Studies Conflict on Video Game Violence

    I-Team: Studies Conflict on Video Game Violence

    Thursday, May 2 2013 2:00 AM EDT2013-05-02 06:00:07 GMT
    LAS VEGAS -- America is a violent nation. Studies show the rate of death by gunfire in our country is much higher than most of the civilized world, but defenders of the Second Amendment say guns are notMore>>
    America is a violent nation. Studies show the rate of death by gunfire in our country is much higher than most of the civilized world, but defenders of the Second Amendment say guns are not the root cause of violence here.More>>
  • Guns of Nevada: The Mental Health DebateMore>>

  • I-Team: High Percentage of Jail Population Suffer Mental Issues

    I-Team: High Percentage of Jail Population Suffer Mental Issues

    Wednesday, March 27 2013 8:02 PM EDT2013-03-28 00:02:59 GMT
    Gun rights advocates say mental illness is the real reason behind mass murder incidents. There are strong indications that most, if not all, of the killers in recent mass murders had severe mental or emotional issues.More>>
    Nevada is notoriously stingy when it comes to support for mental health services. It already ranked among the worst in the nation for mental health programs, and then another $80 million was chopped during the past few years.More>>
  • Experts Debate Impact of Violent Video Games

    Experts Debate Impact of Violent Video Games

    Thursday, May 2 2013 2:00 AM EDT2013-05-02 06:00:07 GMT
    By Steve Kanigher The Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December rekindled a national debate over the extent, if any, to which violent video games set off individuals who go on deadly shootingMore>>
    By Steve Kanigher The Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December rekindled a national debate over the extent, if any, to which violent video games set off individuals who go on deadly shootingMore>>
  • Mental Health Experts Push Debate on Gun Control

    Mental Health Experts Push Debate on Gun Control

    Wednesday, April 10 2013 7:25 PM EDT2013-04-10 23:25:17 GMT
    LAS VEGAS -- Caregivers of the mentally ill say the debate in Congress cannot end with background checks. Gun control is one of many hot topics Wednesday at a national mental health conference in LasMore>>
    Caregivers of the mentally ill say the debate in Congress cannot end with background checks.More>>
  • Different Perspectives on Mental Health and Gun Violence

    Different Perspectives on Mental Health and Gun Violence

    Monday, April 1 2013 4:10 PM EDT2013-04-01 20:10:39 GMT
    LAS VEGAS -- Much is being aired and written in the national media about whether an increased investment in mental health care would have any impact on reducing gun violence. Here are examples of thoseMore>>
    Much is being aired and written in the national media about whether an increased investment in mental health care would have any impact on reducing gun violence.More>>
  • Proposed State Mental Health Budget Includes New Division

    Proposed State Mental Health Budget Includes New Division

    Monday, April 1 2013 2:57 PM EDT2013-04-01 18:57:30 GMT
    LAS VEGAS -- One highlight of Nevada's proposed mental health budget for the two-year period beginning in July is that it will belong to a newly reorganized agency called the Division of Public and BehavioralMore>>
    One highlight of Nevada's proposed mental health budget for the two-year period beginning in July is that it will belong to a newly reorganized agency called the Division of Public and Behavioral Health.More>>
  • Plan Envisioned Early Mental Health Intervention For Children

    Plan Envisioned Early Mental Health Intervention For Children

    Monday, April 1 2013 2:55 PM EDT2013-04-01 18:55:22 GMT
    LAS VEGAS -- A plan that outlined ways to improve mental health services for Nevada's children through 2020 recommended a radical shift in funding priorities from intense intervention for those with severeMore>>
    A plan that outlined ways to improve mental health services for Nevada's children through 2020 recommended a radical shift in funding priorities from intense intervention for those with severe problems to early prevention and intervention efforts.More>>
  • Taking a Closer Look at Mass Murders

    Taking a Closer Look at Mass Murders

    Monday, April 1 2013 2:52 PM EDT2013-04-01 18:52:21 GMT
    LAS VEGAS -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines a mass murder as generally involving at least four victims in a single location with no cooling-off period between the fatalities. But not allMore>>
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines a mass murder as generally involving at least four victims in a single location with no cooling-off period between the fatalities. But not all mass murderers or alleged perpetrators are alike.More>>
  • Nevada Mental Health Services Face Hurdles

    Nevada Mental Health Services Face Hurdles

    Monday, April 1 2013 2:51 PM EDT2013-04-01 18:51:44 GMT
    LAS VEGAS -- As the economic recession took its toll on Nevada, the pain of state budget cuts deeply impacted mental health services. A "Needs Assessment" issued last year by the Nevada Division of MentalMore>>
    As the economic recession took its toll on Nevada, the pain of state budget cuts deeply impacted mental health services.More>>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KLAS. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.