In a report released today involving the death of Linda Lush on October 15, 2015, the Clark County District Attorney's Office has determined that the actions of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers (LVMPD) were not criminal in nature.
On the morning of October 15, 2015, an undercover LVMPD officer saw a vehicle speeding on Desert Inn Road, near Valley View Blvd. He ran the license plate and learned the car was an embezzled vehicle, and the description of the suspect matched the driver of car. He remained behind the car and requested a marked patrol unit to assist him with a felony vehicle stop. In less than five minutes, a marked patrol car pulled behind the suspect car, being driven by Ms. Lush, and attempted to pull her over by activating his lights and chirping the siren. Ms. Lush sped away from the officer. In the interest of community safety, the officer did not engage in a chase, but instead relied on reports from an Air Unit to track Ms. Lush's movements.
While stopped at a red light, an officer saw Ms. Lush, still inside the car, point a silver handgun at the roof. That officer broadcast over dispatch that Ms. Lush was armed with a handgun and was acting erratically. From there, Ms. Lush sped into the parking lot of a strip mall at 3400 S. Jones Blvd. While driving through the parking lot, she almost hit a pedestrian who was cleaning the lot. When he approached her to yell at her for nearly hitting him, she pointed a gun at him and told him to leave the area, which he did.
Officers positioned their patrol cars near Ms. Lush's car and it was determined that, if she tried to drive out of the parking lot, the officers would ram her car to prevent her from leaving. She was acting erratically and not responding to officers' efforts to get her to surrender and, because she had already threatened one civilian, they were concerned she was a danger to others. LVMPD SWAT officers responded to the scene and snipers were positioned on three sides of Ms. Lush's vehicle. They observed her continuing to act erratically, including waving a knife and a firearm, drinking alcohol and smoking what appeared to be narcotics.
Approximately one hour into the standoff, Ms. Lush was still refusing to get out of her car. Officers were concerned that she might try to drive her vehicle out of the parking lot so they decided to neutralize her car. Two armored SWAT vehicles - - "Bearcats" - - were positioned in front of and behind Ms. Lush's car in order to "pinch" it and prevent it from moving. As the Bearcats were coming into position, Ms. Lush attempted to move her car and then fired her gun three times through her windshield, directly at the officers in the Bearcat in front of her car. Four SWAT officers returned fire. Ms. Lush was struck by gunfire and pronounced dead at the scene.
The toxicology report done at the time of the autopsy revealed that Ms. Lush had alcohol, amphetamine, methamphetamine, THC and cocaine in her system.
"Through further investigation after this incident, it was discovered that Ms. Lush had no fewer than eight prior suicide attempts, and those close to her believe her actions amounted to 'suicide by cop'," said District Attorney Steve Wolfson. "Several suicide notes were also found in her vehicle. It was obvious that officers were attempting to use non-lethal methods to stop Ms. Lush from leaving the area and possibly harming innocent bystanders. However, by firing her weapon directly at the officers, she left them with no alternative but to use lethal force to protect themselves and those in the area."
A Police Fatality Public Fact-Finding Review was conducted in this incident on October 21, 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.