Police are often criticized and second guessed for the life and death decisions they must make on a daily basis across the country. While there are certainly some very poor and tragic decisions made from time to time, almost every confrontation that ends tragically begins with a person not obeying the officers commands.
It’s the toughest job in the world, and newly released body cam footage (see video below) from a Las Vegas shootout earlier this week proves exactly why officers end up discharging the firearm when people aren’t listening.
On August 1st, 34-year-old officer Richard Nelson and his partner were questioning 25-year-old Miguel Salas, after receiving several calls about a suspicious vehicle. The officers weren’t aware, but Salas had stolen the vehicle and also had illegal possession of guns inside the vehicle. The officers repeatedly ask him to come out of the truck, but he filibusters and continues to make excuses and not obey the officers commands.
Nelson, sensing the situation wasn’t safe, actually attempts to hold the man’s left arm and keep him from fidgeting around the vehicle, which Salas continued to do with his right hand. The moment Nelson attempted to radio into the station, Salas instantly pulled a gun and started firing. Both officers run for cover, and both get hit. Nelson was wearing a bullet-proof vest, but still managed to get hit on his side.
It’s dramatic footage, and shows exactly why not listening to police will escalate the situation. It only takes a split second for a suspect to pull out a weapon and begin firing. The shooting begins around 2:45 into the video, and pay particular attention to just how quickly Salas is able to brandish his weapon and begin firing multiple rounds.
Fortunately these two officers survived, but officials from the department said Nelson and his partner (who was also hit – and not named) were “lucky to be alive.”
Salas was hit in the head with return fire and died on the scene.
“It’s been a tough month for us. We’ve had quite a few officers involved in shootings over the past month. And every one of those has involved a suspect trying to harm our officers. In this instance, two of our officers actually got shot,” said Las Vegas PD Assistant Sheriff Tom Roberts.
“Despite that, our workforce is in there day in and day out, serving this community the way you expect us to. I’d like to take this time to give them all a thank you. Sometimes it’s pretty thankless. Not a lot of people can do it.”
Here is the full briefing from the Las Vegas PD:
While they’re not perfect, it is a dangerous job and videos like this show just how much officers risk each and every day. A simple call about a suspicious vehicle turned into a deadly shootout. Salas made an unfortunate decision, and it’s sad he chose to head down that path. Thankfully, however, both officers survived and are expected to make full recoveries.