In a report released today involving the death of Phillip Pitts on November 11, 2017, the Clark County District Attorney’s Office has determined that the actions of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) officer involved were legally justified and reasonable.
On November 11, 2017, LVMPD officers responded to a report of domestic violence in the parking lot of a convenience store located at 780 E. Pyle Ave. When officers arrived, they saw Mr. Pitts and his wife struggling over control of a handgun. Mr. Pitts put the gun to his head, and then to his wife’s head, multiple times. The initial officer on scene issued multiple commands for Mr. Pitts to put down his weapon. A second officer arrived at the scene and saw Mr. Pitts pointing the gun at his wife’s abdomen. He repeatedly said to the officers on scene, “Shoot me, officer.” Fearing for the safety of Mr. Pitts’ wife, the innocent bystanders in the area of the convenience store, other officers on the scene and himself, the officer fired two rounds. When Mr. Pitts no longer had a hold on his wife, the officer fired two more rounds. Three of the rounds struck Mr. Pitts. The fourth round struck his wife in the abdomen. Both were transported to University Medical Center. Mr. Pitts was pronounced dead when he arrived, and his wife was taken into surgery. She survived her injury.
The subsequent investigation revealed that Mr. Pitts had a history of domestic violence, and his abuse of his wife had been escalating the previous four years. He had seven prior arrests, in another jurisdiction, between 1995 and 2008. He had no prior arrests in Las Vegas.
“Mr. Pitts not only threatened to kill his wife and himself during this incident, but he endangered his 10 year-old daughter, who was with them as well,” said Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson. “There was a long history of unreported domestic violence in this family. I encourage anyone being abused to seek help. Get to a safe place and then file a police report. We cannot end this cycle if we are unable to identify the victims before it’s too late.”
An autopsy was performed and the toxicology report noted the presence of alcohol (.230) and marijuana.
A Police Fatality Fact-Finding Review was conducted in this incident on June 26, 2018. 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