In a report released today involving the death of Keith Childress on December 31, 2015, the Clark County District Attorney’s Office has determined that the actions of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers (LVMPD) were legally justified and reasonable.
On December 17, 2015, a no-bail arrest warrant for first-degree burglary, armed robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault and theft was issued by an Arizona Court for Keith Childress. About a week later, Mr. Childress called his uncle and asked for a ride from Arizona to Las Vegas so he could spend New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas. Mr. Childress’s uncle, unaware that his nephew was a wanted fugitive, picked him up in Arizona and allowed him to stay in his apartment in Las Vegas.
On December 30, 2015, after learning that Mr. Childress was in Las Vegas, deputies from the US Marshals Service began surveillance on him. The next day, the marshals saw Mr. Childress leave his uncle’s apartment and they moved in to arrest him. He fled on foot through the apartment complex and into a residential neighborhood near the complex. Marshals requested assistance from LVMPD. Officers from the Enterprise Area Command responded and assisted by setting up a perimeter in the area to contain Mr. Childress. During the search for him, officers learned that a weapon had been located in his uncle’s vehicle. About the same time as that information was being disseminated, one of the marshals broadcast over the radio that Mr. Childress was wanted for attempted murder. It was later determined that this information was incorrect. Mr. Childress was wanted for several other violent crimes; however, attempted murder was not one of them.
A LVMPD Air Unit tracked Mr. Childress’s movement and located him running through a residential neighborhood. This information was relayed to officers on the ground. As the officers approached Mr. Childress, giving verbal commands for him to stop, Mr. Childress turned his body so the officers could not see what he was carrying in his right hand. One of the officers told Mr. Childress he was aware he had a firearm and he needed to drop it. Mr. Childress ignored the
officers and refused to comply with more than twenty verbal commands. The final commands given by officers were, "If you advance on us, you will be shot," and, "Do not walk towards us." Mr. Childress continued to hold his right hand to his side and advance toward the officers. Childress was also walking closer toward the front door to a residence. The officers did not know if the residence was occupied and were concerned about a hostage situation if Childress entered the home. Both officers fired their weapons, striking Mr. Childress five times. He fell to the ground and continued to move, while still holding the item in his hand. A K-9 Officer arrived at the scene and deployed his dog because it was still believed that Mr. Childress had a weapon, and he could still pose a threat to everyone in the area. The dog approached Mr. Childress and bit him three times. When Mr. Childress did not respond to the dog, the K-9 Officer ordered the dog off, the officers took Mr. Childress into custody and medical assistance was requested. Mr. Childress died at the scene.
"The officers made their tactical decisions based on the information that was relayed to them as the scene was unfolding." said District Attorney Steve Wolfson. "Knowing that Mr. Childress had been convicted of, and was wanted for, violent crimes, and believing that he was carrying a weapon, coupled with the fact that he was refusing to comply with their commands, Mr. Childress left officers with no choice but to use deadly force to stop him."
A Police Fatality Public Fact-Finding Review was conducted in this incident on August 22, 2016. Clark County Code mandates such a review when a police-involved death occurs, and the prosecutor preliminarily determines that no criminal prosecution of the officers is appropriate.
The determination that the officers acted lawfully in this situation is based upon the evidence available at this time. The case could be reexamined if new information comes to light.
The full report is available on the District Attorney’s Web page.