A 21-year-old father-to-be was killed last Friday night by a Las Vegas Police Department narcotics officer serving a search warrant for marijuana. Trevon Cole was shot once in the bathroom of his apartment after he made what police described as “a furtive movement.”
Police have said Cole was not armed. Police said Monday they recovered an unspecified amount of marijuana and a set of digital scales. A person identifying herself as Cole’s fiancée, Sequoia Pearce, in the comments section in the article linked to above said no drugs were found.
Pearce, who is nine months pregnant, shared the apartment with Cole and was present during the raid. “I was coming out, and they told me to get on the floor. I heard a gunshot and was trying to see what was happening and where they had shot him,” Pearce told KTNV-TV.
According to police, they arrived at about 9 p.m. Friday evening at the Mirabella Apartments on East Bonanza Road, and detectives knocked and announced their presence. Receiving no response, detectives knocked the door down and entered the apartment. They found Pearce hiding in a bedroom closet and took her into custody. They then tried to enter a bathroom where Cole was hiding. He made “a furtive movement” toward a detective, who fired a single shot, killing Cole.
“It was during the course of a warrant and as you all know, narcotics warrants are all high-risk warrants,” Capt. Patrick Neville of Metro’s Robbery-Homicide Bureau said Friday night.
But a person identifying himself as Pearce’s brother, who said he had spoken with his sister, had a different version of events: “The police bust in the door, with guns drawn to my little sister and her now deceased boyfriend,” he wrote. “My sister is 8 ½ months pregnant, two weeks until the due date. But they bust in the door, irritated they didn’t find any weapons or drugs, drag this young man into the restroom to interrogate him and two minutes later my sister hears a shot. They shot him with a shotgun, no weapon. For what? My sister is a baby, this young man is a baby, now my sister is at his house telling his mom her son is dead, and he is barely 21.”
Pearce herself told the Las Vegas Review-Journal Monday that police forced her to kneel at gunpoint in the bedroom and that she could see Cole in the bathroom from the reflection of a mirror. According to Cole, police ordered Cole to get on the ground, he raised his hands and said “Alright, alright,” and a shot rang out.
According to Pearce and family members, Cole had no criminal record, had achieved an Associate of Arts degree, and was working as an insurance adjustor while working on a political science degree at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He was not a drug dealer, Pearce said.
“Trevon was a recreational smoker. He smoked weed, marijuana. That’s what he did,” she told KTNV-TV. “They didn’t have to kill him. We were supposed to get married next year, plan a black and white affair,” she said. “He was all I ever knew, we were gonna make it.”
LVPD Monday identified the police shooter as narcotics detective Bryan Yant, a 10-year veteran of the force. This is the third time Yant has controversially used his police firearm. In 2002, he shot and killed a robbery suspect, claiming the suspect, who was on the ground, aimed a weapon at him. But although the suspect’s gun was found 35 feet away, a jury took only half an hour to find the shooting justified.
The following year, he shot and wounded a man armed with a knife and a baseball ball who had been hired to kill a dog that had killed another neighborhood dog. Yants claimed the man attacked him and that he mistook the bat for a shotgun, but the man said he was running away from Yants when Yants fired repeatedly, striking him once in the hip. Because there was no death in that case, no inquest was held, but the department’s use of force board exonerated Yants.
Yants is on paid administrative leave while the department investigates. The family has hired an attorney to pursue a civil action. And another American has apparently been killed for no good reason in the name of the war on drugs.
“Narcotics warrants are high risk warrants,” said Capt. Neville. The question is for whom, and the answer is obvious: The people on the receiving end of them. The police? Not so much, as we have shown in our annual surveys of police casualties in the drug war.
– Article from Stop the Drug War (DRCNet).
Family of man shot & killed by police hires attorney, DOD investigates
by KTNV ABC
The investigation into a man being shot by a Metro Police detective now has federal ties. It involves the Department of Defense. The family of Trevon Cole was so unnerved by the deadly shooting they hired an attorney. The attorney says Trevon Cole had his hands in the air, following officers instructions for several seconds before he was shot.
But sources close to the investigation say that while they respect the family’s mourning, they stand by their case.
The moment Cole was shot and killed by a Metro narcotics detective during a search warrant Friday night was the moment his fiancee, Sequioa Pearce, began grieving, and wondering.
“He did smoke marijuana from time to time, but as far as a dope dealer, drug dealer, no,” said Pearce.
That led Cole’s family to hire attorney, Andre Lagomarsino, whose investigators are looking into whether rights were violated, and if there are grounds for a wrongful death case.
“The allegations are that police officer, Mr. Yant, entered the apartment, along with other backup police officers, then he shot an unarmed man, and that there was no threat to him at the point that he shot him,” said Lagomarsino.
Metro can only say officially that Cole made a furtive movement toward Detective Brian Yant. But sources tell Action News it was threatening enough detective Yant fired his AR-15 rifle once, hitting Cole, who had been flushing marijuana down the toilet.
“We’ve started to take witness statements and are looking into all the facts, but at this point we have not spoken with Metro about these allegations,” said Lagomarsino.
Sources also tell Action News undercover officers had bought marijuana from Cole four times before the judge signed the warrant. Action News also confirmed that several detectives from the Nellis Air Force base office of special investigations were present when it was served.
Metro issued a statement saying, “They were not part of the entry team or enforcement action, but wanted to interview the subject afterwards as part of an investigation into narcotics activity on local military property. ”
“Whatever they assumed, or whoever their informant was, was probably someone who just told them. We didn’t really have any activity over there,” said Pearce.
The warrant lists Cole’s address, but not him specifically, which isn’t legally necessary. It shows officers seized marijuana and digital scales, but the paperwork is only part of an investigation that’s very much ongoing.
Lagomarsino says he’ll wait for the coroner’s inquest and Metro’s investigation to be finalized before taking any further steps.
Sources say part of the reason Metro was so cautious during the warrant is because undercover officers were investigating another possible deal with Cole, involving cocaine and guns.
– Article from KTNV ABC.