In a report released today involving the January 21, 2017, death of Paul Carr Palmer III, the Clark County District Attorney’s Office has determined that the actions of a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police (LVMPD) officer were legally justified.
On that date, security officers at the Gold Strike Hotel and Gambling Hall in Jean, NV, responded to a call that a man was naked, carrying a knife and covered in blood. When the first security guard arrived, Mr. Palmer raised his knife and started to chase her. When the second security guard arrived at the scene, Mr. Palmer turned his attention to that officer, again raising his knife and chasing him through the parking lot. As the guards were running from him, they saw two Clark County Fire Department (CCFD) firefighters. The two firefighters and one guard retreated to the CCFD rescue unit and got into the vehicle. The second guard went into the south tower of the hotel. The firefighters drove their vehicle toward the area where Mr. Palmer was hiding so they could report his location back to dispatch. An officer with LVMPD arrived in the parking lot, and the firefighters directed him to Mr. Palmer’s location.
The LVMPD officer pulled up to the area where Mr. Palmer was hiding and took his non-lethal "bean bag" shotgun as he exited the patrol car. Mr. Palmer rushed toward the officer with his knife, and the officer gave commands for him to stop and drop the knife, but he did not comply. The officer fired four bean bag rounds at Mr. Palmer, hitting him multiple times, but Mr. Palmer continued to charge at the officer with the knife in his hand. The officer then fired one round from his handgun, striking Mr. Palmer in the chest. Mr. Palmer continued toward the officer, so he fired a second round from his handgun, causing him immediately to fall to the ground. Mr. Palmer then sat up, threw the knife at the officer and fell back to the ground. The firefighters already on scene rendered aid, but he was pronounced dead.
The autopsy report revealed that Mr. Palmer had multiple self-inflicted cuts on his neck, lower arms, thighs and calves. The toxicology report indicated he had marijuana metabolites in his system. No other narcotics were detected.
"Mr. Palmer aggressively chased several first responders, threatening them with a knife which he had used earlier to cut himself multiple times," said Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson. "Initially, efforts were made to communicate with him and try to assist him. The responding officer first used a non-lethal weapon get him into custody. When that had no effect, the officer switched to deadly force in order to stop the threat posed by Mr. Palmer."
A Police Fatality Public Fact-Finding Review was conducted in this incident on May 26, 2017. Clark County Code mandates such a review when a police-involved death occurs, and the prosecutor preliminarily determines that no criminal prosecution of the officer is appropriate.
The determination that the officer 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.