Metro officer who tased and choked victim could be the first to - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Metro officer who tased and choked victim could be the first to face murder charge

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Tashii Farmer's family planned a protest outside the Venetian after he was killed by choke hold at the hands of a Metro officer. (LVMPD) Tashii Farmer's family planned a protest outside the Venetian after he was killed by choke hold at the hands of a Metro officer. (LVMPD)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

An on-duty officer with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has never been charged with murder or manslaughter.

Now, the family of Tashii Farmer hopes that changes.

Farmer died after Officer Kenneth Lopera punched, Tased and choked him outside the Venetian. Police said Farmer was innocent and that the choke hold was wrong. Still, the investigation is ongoing while they wait for the results of an autopsy.

When the police arrest someone, they don't have to wait for the autopsy to come back first. If they have probable cause, officers make the arrest. Attorney Andre Lagomarsino, who represents the family, said he wants to know why police officers seem to be the exception.

Lopera is on paid administrative leave.

"Instead of being in a jail cell, he's at home collecting a check," Lagomarsino said.

Paid administrative leave is standard because if an officer is fired without being charged with a crime, that officer could theoretically file a lawsuit against the department. Lagomarsino said he understands that, but he thinks a "paid vacation" doesn't send the right message.

Lopera exercised his right to remain silent instead of giving a statement to police. Lagomarsino said that might be the only smart thing he did that night.

"I think there's a very real chance that this officer might get charged," Lagomarsino said. "It's hard to ignore in this situation that it was a white officer with a black man."

Chairman Jay Jackson of the New Black Panther said he plans on joining the family this weekend at a protest outside the Venetian. In the meantime, he hasn't been sitting around waiting. He has been on the streets with a megaphone protesting by himself, because he said justice can't wait.

"You have people who are just doing this over the weekend - weekend warriors," Jackson said. "New Black Panthers? We do this as a way of life. We get out there every day and address issues."

Jackson yelled over the megaphone that he wants to see multiple officers prosecuted for Farmer's death. He said he noticed two officers in the video, one of whom showed up around the same time Lopera put Farmer in a rear-naked choke.

Police have declined to release the names of the other officers who responded.

"Let's get behind this family. Let's show some unity," he yelled over the megaphone. "We demand that these officers be prosecuted ... We saw the illegal choke hold."

If Lagomarsino is capable of successfully suing the police department and earning the family a cash settlement, Jackson said that's not "true justice." He blamed the system for never finding a Metro officer guilty in the past.

"You don't have any good officers if you're not stopping the bad officers. You've got to stop the bad officers," Jackson said. "We know all these police departments are the biggest, most racist gangs in the United States of so-called America."

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