LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Video obtained by the I-Team shows the moment murder suspect Terrell Rhodes was able to grab a gun from a Metro police detective in an interview room. According to police, he had just confessed to killing 2-year-old Amari Nicholson and drew a map showing where the body could be found.
The video shows one of his hands cuffed to the table, and he tries to slip his hand out. He likely knows he’s going to jail, and he’s upset. The situation inside the interview room escalates quickly.
He is agitated, and detectives come back into the room to calm him down. That’s when he reaches over and grabs the gun from homicide detective Opal Deeds’ holster.
She and another detective struggle to get the loaded firearm back.
The detective testified in front of the grand jury that during the struggle, she heard Rhodes say he wanted to kill someone, and that the gun was pointed at her and another detective.
Two other officers enter the room.
A minute after he took the gun, Rhodes appears to be restrained.
The next day, May 12, investigators found Amari’s body near Paradise Road and Twain Avenue.
The I-Team obtained photos presented to the grand jury as evidence. One photo we have chosen not to display shows the toddler was buried in his footsie pajamas.
Other photos show the precise location where Amari’s body was found — after a week in which the community searched for the boy.
The video and map are included in evidence presented to the grand jury.
Rhodes, 27, faces a first-degree murder charge in the toddler’s death as well as two counts of attempted murder for taking the officer’s weapon. He also faces four counts of assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon and four counts of resisting a police officer with the use of a firearm.
Amari’s mother reported him missing on May 5 after Rhodes, her boyfriend, said the child had been taken by a family member on the biological father’s side. “What’s really sickening is that people are making assumptions thinking that I had something to do with it, that I have her manipulated in some way,” Rhodes said in an interview with the I-Team.
Police determined Rhodes’ story was not true and a search began for the boy.
Rhodes allegedly confessed on May 11 and was taken into custody.
According to police, Rhodes admitted to hitting the child several times after the boy urinated on himself. He said the child turned blue and purple and stopped breathing.
The mother was out of town helping a family member at the time.
Prosecutors are weighing whether to seek the death penalty in this case.
Rhodes’ next court date is June 25.
Rhodes has since declined the I-Team’s request for an interview.
The I-Team has learned that Metro policy allows officers to be armed in an interview room when there are two or more officers present.
The department also says the Critical Incident Review Team is examining the incident with a focus on policy, tactics and training. The findings will be used to evaluate current processes and make future recommendations.
After seeing the video, the president of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association issued this statement:
Here is a suspect, who just confessed to the murder of a 2 year old, took a firearm off of an officer and is still alive today to stand for his charges. Police officers do everything they can to preserve life. Even the life of a callous murderer. This also shows the lengths suspects are willing to go to when confronted by their own crimes. Our officers moved swiftly and controlled the suspects movements to disarm him.Steve Grammas, president, Las Vegas Police Protective Association
Here are questions we asked Metro regarding what happened in the interview room, along with their answers (in bold).
- Is it standard for officers/detectives to bring their firearms into interview rooms with suspects? Department policy allows officers to be armed in an interview room when there are two or more officers present.
- What is the current policy? For a copy of this policy, please submit a request to the Public Records Unit.
- Is Detective Deeds facing any disciplinary action? The LVMPD does not comment on internal investigations or employee personnel files.
- Will LVMPD be using the video as a teaching tool? An examination of this incident is being conducted by the LVMPD’s Critical Incident Review Team. This review will focus on policy, tactics and training as it relates to this incident. The findings will be used to evaluate current processes and make future recommendations.
- Is there any statement LVMPD can send me? (See response to #4.)