Family of Man Killed by Police File Wrongful Death Suit | News
LAS VEGAS -- The family of Erik Scott, the man who was killed by Las Vegas police officers at a Summerlin Costco in July of 2010, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the store.
The Scott family says the store and its employees are to blame for the bloody events and they have an audio tape to prove it.
Earlier this year, the Scott family dropped a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department because they did not believe they could prevail given the limited immunity officers in the field are granted. A proposed lawsuit against Costco was also withdrawn, but only temporarily.
A new attorney for the Scott family, lawyer Matthew Callister, thinks Costco is at least partly to blame for Erik Scott's death. The 911 tapes from that day will be prime part of their case.
A coroner's inquest has already determined that the police officers who shot Scott were justified in using deadly force. But what about the events that led up to the fatal confrontation?
"Costco personnel clearly caused the situation, which spun out of control and resulted in Erik's death and no one has been held accountable," said Erik Scott's father, Bill Scott.
Bill Scott reluctantly dropped an earlier lawsuit against Metro and Costco, in part because the store's video cameras were reportedly not working on the day of the shooting. But the audio recording of the 911 calls from the store speaks volumes, the Scott family alleges.
The 911 calls were made by a loss prevention employee named Shai Lierly, who testified at the coroner's inquest. The full tape reveals a store employee who is clearly excited about Scott's presence in the store and the fact that Scott was carrying a concealed weapon.
"We approached him and told him he can't have it in here," said Lierly to the dispatcher. "Even with a concealed weapon, we don't allow firearms in the building."
Moments later, Scott was shot seven times and died in front of the store. Bill Scott still believes police jumped the gun, and also thinks the 911 call exaggerated the situation and put them in an excitable state.
"They ratcheted up the situation to where it sounded like it was totally out of control. The cops arriving thought they had a barricade situation, perhaps a hostage situation inside and a guy was waving a gun around. None of that was true. None of it," he said.
Eyewitnesses at the inquest gave conflicting stories about whether Scott had been acting erratically, but the lawsuit will argue that no one from the store ever asked Erik to leave, that a manager was helping him during the time the caller was telling police sSott was destroying merchandise, and that Scott never once touched his weapon.
"There was none of this nonsense of him being out of control and screaming and causing a problem. By all accounts of the witnesses in the store, many of whom have not been heard from yet, that situation was painted very erroneously by the 911 call," said Scott.
According to the Scott's lawyer, Costco's own policies prohibit anyone other than a manager from calling police. The 911 caller was not a manager. They also say the store does not post signs, even today, that tell customers that guns are not allowed.
Bill Scott also hinted that he has some surprise witnesses from within the Costco organization who will bolster the family's case.