Reportedly, Erik Scott was in Costco looking at water bottles. He apparently was sitting on the floor of an aisle opening water bottle cartons or shrink wraps and trying the water bottles in his back pack. When confronted by a Costco employee, the employee noticed Erik's gun, for which he had a concealed carry permit. The Costco employee called the police saying that a customer with a gun was behaving erratically. All customers were ordered out of the store. Erik was part of the crowd leaving the store. Fast forward: the police shot and killed Erik.
As to what happened the moments before the shooting, the stories diverge.
First, let's look at Erik's background. The following is from the obituary of Erik Scott:
This seems like a pretty solid guy.
ERIK SCOTT Erik B. Scott was born at Mather Air Force Base, Sacramento, Calif., April 23, 1972. He was killed in Las Vegas, July 10, 2010. Erik attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduated in the top 10 percent of his class, and was commissioned a U.S. Army officer in May 1994. He subsequently served as an M1A1 tank platoon leader with the 1st Cavalry. He left active duty, during the post-Cold War military drawdown, and embarked on a successful career in medical and real estate sales. He was transferred to Las Vegas in 1999, working in cardio-vascular sales for Boston Scientific. While working full-time, he obtained a masters in business administration from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, then branched into real estate sales. Erik was the sales director for One Queensridge Place in Summerlin; and, with partners, was involved in a number of major projects in Las Vegas. He returned to Boston Scientific in recent years, serving as a sales representative in the company's Cardio Response Management unit until his untimely death. Erik is survived by his parents, William and Linda Scott of Colorado Springs, Colo.; brother, Kevin Scott; sister-in-law, Allison; and nephew, Charles, of Huntington Beach, Calif. A myriad of aunts, uncles and other relatives grieve his loss. There will be a memorial service for Erik at 3 p.m. Saturday, July 17, at the Las Vegas Country Club, 3000 Joe W. Brown Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89109.
Now back to the story. Here is the police version of events according to the Metro police news release: An officer approached the man, 39-year-old West Point graduate Erik Scott, observed a weapon in his waistband and ordered him to raise his hands and lie on the ground. With two other officers joining in, police said, Scott “drew his pistol and pointed it” at the officer who had commanded Scott to lie down. The three officers then shot at Scott, striking him numerous times at close range without hitting anyone else, and he died a short time later.
Some news reports have suggested that the officers were waiting for Scott with their guns drawn.
According to one 72 year old male witness who heard police say:
He saw Scott facing the officers. The officers were between Scott and the store entrance.
"Get on the ground. Get on the ground."
The man said he saw Scott's right hand pull out "what appeared to be a gun in a zippered holster" like a holster owned by the witness. The officers fired. The witness saw the gun fall from Scott's hand. He did not see Scott point the gun at officers. Here is my question: The witness saw Scott pull out a zippered holster? Not the gun itself? Hmm. Yet, he saw the gun fall from Scott's hand?
Another witness was standing near the entrance when he heard the officers yell, "Get down on the ground. Get down now." He turned to see why police were yelling and saw Scott reaching for what appeared to be a pistol in his waistband. "He was definitely reaching for the gun." The witness immediately turned toward his wife and covered her as they dropped to the ground.
This witness did not see whether Scott fully removed a gun from his waistband and did not see the actual shooting. He denied that Scott was trying to "quick-draw" the weapon on the officers. This witness's account differs from the previous one. A pistol in the waistband? No zippered holster?
The newspaper also reports:
Not seeing a gun, of course is different from seeing that there was no gun. What do these inconsistent accounts say about the reliability of eyewitness testimony?
Several witnesses interviewed by the Review-Journal have said they did not see a gun and did not see Scott reach for a gun when police confronted him outside the store.
It is probably that the official version is wrong, at least to some extent. There is so much public pressure for immediate statements, that the officials yield and make statements before all the facts are gathered.
There may be a security tape that will show what really happened. As matters stand, it is too early to make a judgment. If Erik pulled a gun on officer, the shooting was probably justified. The tape will tell the true tale, we hope. It is nineteen days later. So why no word?
Sources: Las Vegas Review Journal
Las Vegas Sun
8 News Now
Update. A new witness has come forward, still no word in the security tape:
Until now, Robert Garcia has remained silent. He says he can’t erase the incident from his mind.
“But I was close enough to see this guy’s face… and to see his hands and to see his body go down…”
Police told News 3 that Erik Scott drew a gun on officers and that’s when the officers opened fire. Garcia says he remembers exiting the Costco about 10 feet in front of Scott and immediately noticing an officer with a gun drawn. He says that officer yelled “Put it down! Get down!” He recalls four shots then being fired and that he immediately turned toward the victim.
“After hearing the shots, I see the guy going down. I saw his hands… his hands had no gun in it. I looked on the ground. I just did that… looked down. I didn’t see a gun. I saw what I thought were sunglasses and a pen.”
Police, meantime, have been reluctant to release any information about the investigation until the coroner’s inquest. It’s an inquest which currently has no date.
Further update: Here.
For more updates on this blog, search "Erik Scott" in the search box, upper left on the page.
9/24/2010: For inquest coverage and comment, see the enries on September 23 and 24, 2010.
2012 Update: Follow up posts may be found: