Monday, August 17, 2009

Las Vegas Detective Cleared in Fatal Shooting

The Mercury News published this story about Officer Jeremy Hendricks of Las Vegas.

A Las Vegas police detective has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of a sexual assault suspect during a foot chase last month.

A coroner's inquest jury deliberated for about 90 minutes on Friday before returning the unanimous verdict in favor of Jeremy Hendricks, an 11-year veteran of the force.

Hendricks shot John Paul Hambleton in the back as the 32-year-old suspect ran from the detective and his partner in northwest Las Vegas on July 1.

Hendricks and they wanted to question him about his two-year sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl. Police intended to charge him with nine counts of sexual assault.

The first thing I noticed, besides the "shot in the back" part, is the little girlfriend was 16 years old not 6. Does anyone think a consensual relationship with an underage teenager and molesting a 6-year-old should be considered the same? Should they both be called sexual assault?

But, of course, the real question is how can shooting an escaping suspect in the back be considered legitimate?

Interestingly, the Las Vegas sites don't have this story out yet. The information above comes from neighboring California. I guess the Vegas papers are trying to figure out how they want to present the story.

Last month, the Las Vegas Review-Journal published this story on the past history of Officer Hendricks.

When Las Vegas police Detective Jeremy Hendricks testifies before a coroner's inquest jury in August about the slaying of a sexual assault suspect, it won't be his first inquest experience.

Hendricks, who fatally shot Paul Hambleton, 32, in the back as he fled police earlier this month, was called as an inquest witness in 2005.

The case involved the death of 47-year-old Russell Walker, who was shocked with a Taser multiple times by police, including while strapped to a gurney.

Hendricks, then an officer, helped restrain Walker during the incident, which is now the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court.

The inquest jury cleared two officers in the death of Walker. Autopsy results showed the man had been high on cocaine during the confrontation with police in front of the Western Hotel in downtown Las Vegas.

I think I'm beginning to get it, if they're high on cocaine or thought to be sexual assailants, anything goes. I realize the police have a very difficult job, but shouldn't this kind of thing be discouraged?

What's your opinion? Is holding a man down while other officers taser him to death the kind of behaviour you want from your police? Is shooting a fleeing suspect in the back sometimes justified?

Please leave a comment.


  1. In Florida, as of today, shooting a fleeing criminal is okie-dokie for cops and civilians.,0,2044448.story