The Clark County District Attorney’s Office has determined that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers involved in the death of Sharmel Edwards acted reasonably and lawfully.
“The police officers gave Ms. Edwards ample opportunity to end their confrontation in a nonviolent manner,” District Attorney Steven Wolfson said. “Unfortunately, as numerous witnesses stated, she ignored the officers’ commands and exited the vehicle with a gun drawn. She left the officers with no choice.”
Traditionally, officer-involved deaths were reviewed by a coroner’s inquest hearing, during which officers and witnesses provided public testimony in a courtroom setting. However, changes to the inquest procedures drew legal challenges that have stalled the process. The last coroner’s inquest hearing was held in September 2010, and there is currently a backlog of 23 cases. In light of this delay, Wolfson ordered reviews of the cases awaiting an inquest hearing. Including the review released today, Wolfson has now released 18 reviews of officer-involved deaths.
“The reviews are important because they give the public answers about how our police officers acted during these very serious confrontations,” Wolfson said.
According to the review released today:
- According to police officers and other witnesses, at about 1:48 a.m. on April 21, a man called police to report that a friend of his, whom he identified as Edwards, had stolen his car. The man also told police that there was a handgun inside the car. Then at about 3:37 a.m., a police officer saw the car going east on Smoke Ranch Road near Torrey Pines Drive. The officer was quickly joined by other officers and together they surrounded the car, which had pulled into a parking lot at 2333 N. Jones Boulevard. The officers spent the next 40 minutes telling Edwards to show them her hands and get out of the car. Then at about 4:17 a.m., Edwards got out of the car, but she was holding a handgun. When she aimed the gun at the officers, five of the officers shot her.
The determinations that the officer acted lawfully in these situations is based upon the evidence available at this time. The cases could be reexamined if new information comes to light. The full reviews are available on the District Attorney’s Web page. Subsequent reviews will also be posted on the Web page when they are completed.
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