Officer used improper rear-naked choke on innocent man before hi - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Officer used improper rear-naked choke on innocent man before his death

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Police said an officer used an improper choke maneuver before a man's death. Police said an officer used an improper choke maneuver before a man's death.
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

A man is dead and an officer is on paid administrative leave after putting the victim in a rear-naked choke on Sunday, outside the Venetian Hotel Casino. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department released videos of the incident on Wednesday.

Tashii Farmer, 40, was unarmed. Police said he didn't do anything wrong and wouldn't have been charged with a crime if he survived.

Undersheriff Kevin McMahill told the public he was "concerned" with the fact that his officer used a technique that isn't taught or approved by the department.

He said the rear-naked choke is something that's supposed to be used in MMA fighting, not his police department.

"I have an ask of you and the community as I stand in front of you today. I'm asking for your calm and your patience," McMahill said. "I understand the concern in this community ... we share that concern."

The 31-year-old officer at the center of the investigation, Kenneth Lopera, took the advice from his attorney and refused to give a criminal statement to the police or answer any questions.

Inside the Venetian

The incident began when Farmer approached Officer Lopera and his partner inside the Venetian while the officers were in line to buy coffee.

"Farmer appeared to be sweating heavily," McMahill said. "(He) looked panicked and told the officer that people were chasing him."

It's unclear if Farmer was actually being chased. He ran off. Officer Lopera followed in pursuit.

Video shows Officer Lopera using his stun gun on Farmer as he runs near a white pick-up truck. Police said Officer Lopera thought Farmer was trying to hijack the truck. The driver told police this wasn't the case.

Officer Lopera used his Taser seven times as he yelled at Farmer to get on his stomach, police said. Eventually, the officer punched Farmer repeatedly in the head and face and put Farmer in a rear-naked choke. Each punch and use of the Taser will be investigated, according to police.

McMahill said officers are supposed to use a specific type of neck restraint called a "lateral vascular neck restraint," which doesn't restrict air supply and is capable of making sure the subject complies within seconds. Instead, McMahill said Officer Lopera had Farmer in a rear-naked choke for approximately one minute. The man went unconscious and was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Investigation

The Clark County Coroner's Office hasn't determined the cause nor manner of Farmer's death. It's unclear if he died because of the punches, stun gun, choke or something else. Police said their investigation will be conducted just as seriously either way.

FOX5 asked why Lopera chased after Farmer before there was ever a confrontation. The department was incapable of answering because of Lopera's unwillingness to give a statement to investigators.

Before the press conference, Farmer's mother said she was devastated with the loss of her son. She said she wants to say goodbye to him and digest the situation before making a public statement.

McMahill said he heard from the family that Farmer had a history of mental illness, but he wasn't able to elaborate.

"We haven't really had the opportunity to sit down with the family," he said. "They haven't been willing to sit down with us."

Farmer had a criminal history in Nevada and Hawaii, including multiple charges of driving under the influence. That information will likely not be relevant to the investigation of this case, as police said Farmer was not guilty of a crime the night he died.

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