A local author's son was gunned down by police in Las Vegas on July 10, prompting an outcry from residents and a demand for accountability from his family and friends.
West Point graduate Erik Scott, 38, son of Bill Scott, was killed by three cops just outside a Costco store in Las Vegas after a security guard there reported him for carrying a concealed weapon. The weapon was registered, and Erik had the proper permits. Costco doesn't allow weapons in the store, but there's no notice posted, according to Bill Scott.
"It's extremely hard to understand," he says in an interview with the Independent. "You cannot get your brain wrapped around the idea that Erik was shot and killed by the very people he felt allied with. He was always a law-abiding citizen. It's one of those incidents where in the middle of the night you wake up for an instant, and there's something in your brain that says, 'Hit the rewind button. This can't be real.'"
He says police officers made a "rush to judgment" and "murdered [Erik] on the spot" by firing seven rounds, at least five of which hit Erik in the back after he fell. Scott says only 71 seconds elapsed from the time an evacuation was started until the shooting.
"I feel like six or seven of those rounds hit me in the chest, and they blew a massive hole in my heart," Scott told Nevada's 8NewsNow. "If I were a Las Vegas resident, I would want to know the absolute truth about this incident."
Scott, an Air Force engineer turned nonfiction writer and novelist (whose work the Indy profiled in "Imagining World War III," Oct. 29, 2009), lives in the Fox Run area and has been in the Springs since 1994. But he's quickly learned some about Las Vegas policing, namely that in 30 years and more than 200 cases investigated involving police officers there, only one officer has been found at fault.
"They have police investigating police reporting to police," Scott says, adding he hopes the Justice Department will conduct an independent investigation. A coroner's inquest has been postponed indefinitely, pending additional investigation.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, police said Erik Scott refused their orders and drew a handgun and pointed it at them. The newspaper also reported that witnesses disagree about whether Scott drew a gun.
Scott says the case has outraged Vegas citizens, who say they're "scared of their own cops." Erik's "in memory" Facebook page has attracted 920 members, audio clips of the police dispatch recording have accumulated about 1,000 hits on YouTube, and some people have donated money at inmemoryoferikscott.org. The case also has spread to sites such as forbes.com and salon.com.
Between 200 and 300 people, some from as far away as China, came to Erik's memorial service on July 17, and donations have funded five billboards in Las Vegas that say, "Let the TRUTH be known," with a phone number to call with information. Since the billboards went up, five new witnesses have stepped forward, says Scott, who continues to do media interviews.
"It just seems to build more and more," he says.
Erik played high school football in California, was student body vice president and graduated from West Point in the top 10 percent of his class. He earned a master's degree from Duke University and had lived in Las Vegas for 10 years. He worked for Boston Scientific.
"He was a very warm individual, happy," his father says.