I-Team First on 8: Attorney of suspect accused of hitting trooper on I-15 points to meth addiction

I-Team

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The I-Team spoke with the attorney of 60-year-old Douglas Claiborne, the driver suspected of hitting Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) Trooper Micah May, during an interview from Hawaii.

He says he and Claiborne’s family are exploring ways to try to help the trooper and his family, possibly through a fund. He also says he understands police had to address the threat the suspect posed.

“It’s really sad,” said Victor Bakke, criminal defense attorney. “It’s just really, really tragic.”

According to NHP, Claiborne stole a car, led police on a chase and hit May while he was putting stop-sticks on the road. The trooper was critically injured and airlifted to the hospital.

Claiborne was shot and killed.

“It being so violent, and then again, involving an innocent police officer, you know, it’s horrible,” Bakke lamented.

He says he’s represented Claiborne for the past 15 years and calls him a friend. Bakke says he’s expected a call about Claiborne.

“I expected it to just be that there was an overdose or some type of accident or something,” he shared with us.

Bakke and Claiborne’s father tell us he struggled with drugs for years, and both believe he was high on Tuesday.

“He just had a horrible, horrible drug addiction to methamphetamine,” Bakke said, “And he had all the opportunities in the world to be happy, healthy and successful.”

He says Claiborne was the beneficiary of a substantial trust fund, but his addiction led to a lengthy criminal history, spanning multiple states, including Nevada, Iowa, Texas and Hawaii.

In the picture below, Claiborne’s mugshot from 2007 in Dallas is on the left. The one on the right is from Las Vegas in 2020, when he was arrested for battery. That case was dropped.

Bakke also confirms previous arrests for robbery, assault, making a terror threat, abusing family and felony drug charges. According to records, he was part of a plan to smuggle drugs into jail, and then spent time in federal prison.

“In hindsight, I wish I could have left him in there because he was safe; he was happy,” Bakke told us.

Records reveal his time in the federal system ended in 2019. Bakke says Claiborne has dramatically deteriorated since then, with his final moments spent on a crime rampage.

“The police have to neutralize the threat,” Bakke said. “It’s just unfortunate.”

The I-Team asked Bakke if family and friends tried to get Claiborne into a program to try to stay clean. He says he would get sober and then relapse but was doing well with the structure and program in federal prison.

Both Bakke and Claiborne’s father tell us they have not heard from the 60-year-old recently. He lived mainly in Hawaii but frequently traveled to Las Vegas. They also expressed sorrow for what happened to May.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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