In a report released today involving the death of James Smyth on November 6, 2015, the Clark County District Attorney's Office has determined that the actions of Clark County School District Police Department (CCSDPD) officers were reasonable and legally justified.
In the late afternoon of November 6, 2015, a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) officer was traveling south on Spencer Street when his patrol car was struck by a vehicle driven by Mr. Smyth. The officer believed this was an accident and started to pull toward the side of the road when Mr. Smyth accelerated and rammed the patrol vehicle a second time. The officer activated his emergency lights and followed Mr. Smyth, in an attempt to get him to stop. When Mr. Smyth failed to stop, the officer turned off his lights to avoid engaging in a high speed chase, but he continued to follow Mr. Smyth. However, the officer activated his lights once again at an intersection in order to warn oncoming traffic that Mr. Smyth might not stop at the intersection. Mr. Smyth indeed failed to stop.
After failing to stop at a second intersection, Mr. Smyth turned into the parking lot of Desert Bloom Park. In that same lot, CCSDPD officers were conducting an unrelated investigation involving some juveniles. Two CCSDPD officers and two juveniles were standing next to the marked CCSDPD patrol vehicle in the lot. Mr. Smyth directed his vehicle at the patrol car and accelerated. CCSDPD officers, fearing for their safety and the safety of the countless people in the park, including many children, fired their weapons at Mr. Smyth. He was struck multiple times and pronounced dead at the scene.
Many witnesses were interviewed and reported that it was obvious Mr. Smyth had no intention of stopping his car. In fact, several stated that they heard the engine rev as he drove toward the officers and their vehicle.
The toxicology report done at the time of the autopsy revealed that Mr. Smyth had marijuana in his system.
"Dozens of people, including many children, were enjoying the park that day," said District Attorney Steve Wolfson. "Mr. Smyth was driving a 4,000 pound weapon into a crowded park, with no intention of stopping, and the CCSDPD officers prevented Mr. Smyth from injuring and possibly killing innocent citizens."
A Police Fatality Public Fact-Finding Review was conducted in this incident on November 4, 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.