The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers who responded to the Mandalay Bay shooting were ordered to turn their body cameras off before engaging with the shooting.
Video evidence released by the Department under court order by the Supreme Court shows the officers turning off their body cameras while superior officers gave them the order, adding more mystery to the still unexplained shooting that left 58 people dead.
Here is some of the video footage:
The order was enforced under the Nevada Public Records Act, in a case filed against the LVMPD by multiple news and media outlets, insisting the public has a right to receive this information in its entirety. The judges assigned to the case agreed, and insisted that the LVMPD stop stalling with the release of information that was originally to be made accessible to the public within 6 months of the ruling in February of 2018.
It is now mid-June, and there have only been six releases from the LVMPD since their appeal was overruled in late April. The first consisting of two body camera videos, followed with five additional releases that include witness statements, dispatch logs, CCTV footage, and most recently, 28 body camera files. One of which is a duplicate from the May 2, 2018 body cam of Officer Newton. We are fast approaching this six-month deadline, and according to Sheriff Joe Lombardo and the LVMPD FIT investigation report made public in January 2018, there are at least 38 additional body cameras, over 21,500 hours of video, 251,099 images, and 529 sightings of Paddock that were analyzed and should be included in the release.
While taking into consideration the recent footage of the body cameras, it does appear that there should be additional hours of video included within these 28 counts. Almost all the cameras were not turned off by the officer, nor did it appear they had any malfunction, but merely ended for no apparent reason. The length of footage per video ranges from approximately 15 seconds to slight over two hours, even though most, if not all, officers who responded that night worked well into the next morning, possibly longer for some. This would indicate that we have many more hours to see, just from these 28 body cameras alone.
In observing media coverage on the release of information over the last few weeks, it appears that the dedication to provide full disclosure on videos, audio 911 calls, and news reports is slowing down, with some news outlets stating they will be “heavily editing” the release of information due to its sensitive nature. The in-depth analysis coverage of statements is found few and far between, some sites pulling down videos released early on.
The public has long awaited the compliance of the court order from the LVMPD in releasing all information related to this investigation, and when they exhausted their efforts in filibustering, the public counted on news and media outlets to provide the information fought for, that will ultimately cost taxpayers to supply. However, in just a few short weeks, those same outlets have dropped their in-depth coverage. Even going so far as to apply an additional layer of edits, thereby preventing the public their right to the information based on the same ruling the media involved won their case on. And that case was filed with the sole purpose of public right.
In addition to this limit of information some media outlets are now playing a role in, there is grave concern on the dedication of Sheriff Lombardo and the dedication to the department’s ICARE value system and transparency model. In the most recently released Annual Report, the ICARE (Integrity, Courage, Accountability, Respect (for people), Excellence) is embraced as the core value system for the department. The Mission Statement is solely dedicated to strengthening relationships and improving the quality of life while serving its citizens. The goals are to Lead, Value, Maximize, Protect, and Develop (LVMPD), with trust, transparency and communication as a focal point.
In this 2016 Annual Report, Sheriff Joe Lombardo provides a personal message, promoting a command center addition, increase in hired staff, and a recent study from the Department of Justice reviewing the Collaborative Reform Model from 2012, where the DOJ had intervened due to an unusually high amount of reports involving use of force within the department.
Lombardo also made a point of noting a significant increase in the number of officers equipped with body-worn cameras, stating, “We outfitted 1,517 additional officers with body-worn cameras in 2016, compared to 178 the year before”. There is also an additional section of the report dedicated to body-worn cameras, claiming the LVMPD has become a “model agency nationwide for both innovations and accountability to the community it serves. As such, LVMPD is committed to the principles of constitutional policing, transparency, and the legitimacy for the citizens of Las Vegas”.
These policies and principles as outlined in the report would be a platform any police department across the nation should be adopting as common practice. However, recently released footage from the Las Vegas Shooting on October 1 brings glaring evidence to light, where these values and goals of transparency may not be worth the paper they are written on.
What the Body Cameras Show
In body-worn camera #1 from the night of the shooting, you see dozens of officers lining up in teams, “strike teams”, in preparation for identifying suspects and clearing the rooms of the hotels, businesses, and streets along the strip. The officer wearing the camera expresses frustration with the lack of training on carrying rifles, and is anxiously trying to nail down what radio communication they should be on. He lines up with some fellow officers as they are labeled with “Strike Team 4”.
Towards the end of the footage that is abruptly shut off, you hear a female officer walking down the line and confirming orders to all, repeating to each officer, “Camera off? Camera off?”, and just seconds after, the body-worn camera is shut down. In two separate body cams, #18 and #19, other officers are in the same vicinity and you can hear the direction given in this footage as well. It appears both officers had just activated their cameras, and then disengaged them based on the direction of the officer. Each video is a total duration of just over a minute. One final video evidencing the order of turning all cameras off is #23, lasting approximately 18:31, with the direction from the female officer occurring at about the 18:27 mark.
It is unknown who this officer was, however she seems to have been given a position of some authority that night while giving instructions to officers, instructions that blatantly disregard every model the LVMPD claims they support, stand for, provide, and believe in. What would be the purpose of directing the cameras to be off? Why would that be a focus as you are under attack? Why would cameras be ordered to be turned off during the largest mass shooting in modern US history?
LVMPD Violated Their ICARE Policy By Turning Off The Body Cameras
Given these cameras cost an estimated $2.6 million plus in equipment only, according to the Axon Flex Contract in the 08-28-2017 fiscal affairs agenda, with an additional $1 million in storage and maintenance bundled costs (Full Agenda 03-06-2018), Clark County citizens have a right to know the answers to these questions as to why some of this equipment was activated on the night of the shooting, and then a repeat directive was issued to make sure the cameras were not in use.
The Axon Flex Camera System is a global leader in digital evidence management solutions, according to an article on PRNewswire.com. The system is used in many police departments around the world, durable lightweight equipment, a 12 hour plus battery life, and built-in capabilities to add time/date stamp, geographical location, or any other additional notes deemed necessary, all of which have been features since 2012.
While researching the background of this leading technology and use of features advertised, another area of concern comes into play with the October 1 body camera footage that has been released so far from the LVMPD. On May 2, 2018, the two body cameras of Sergeant Bitsko and K9 Officer David Newton were the first body cameras given to the public, which provided a visual from that night on the explosive breaches of rooms 32-135 and 32-134, when police first entered the room of the alleged shooter, Stephen Paddock. The videos provided by the LVMPD have no time/date stamp included at all.
The lead SWAT officer who oversaw the breach and clearing of the rooms, Levi Hancock, states in the footage of Sergeant Bitsko that he neglected to remember to turn his body camera on at all. Hancock would have been the only officer who could have provided a clear vantage point of the full operation taking place that night to apprehend Paddock. You can see in the body cam of fellow officer Bitsko that officer Hancock is equipped with what appears to be two cameras. One of the cameras was on his chest and another on his helmet. Despite the transparency and trust model, both cameras were not activated that night, according to the statement by SWAT Officer Levi Hancock.
In additional body camera footage recently released, there are some videos that include what is called a UTC time stamp, a universal time that is utilized by Axon Flex in order to ensure the accuracy of when the events were actually recorded. In addition to the UTC time, Axon offers the local time and date to be embedded through Evidence.com, a host website for departments to upload their video content. This seems to be in line with what is displayed on some of the body camera footage hosted on the LVMPD YouTube channel, where UTC time is displayed.
However, not all recent camera footage includes this UTC time, along with the original videos released of the room breaches. Select videos host the UTC stamp, while others have no indication of what time or date they were recorded on at all. Examples of the variance in videos may be viewed here.
The unexplained variances in the footage presented by the LVMPD is another mystery in the events surrounding that night, as Sheriff Lombardo refuses to provide any comments or any questions about the information released. Lombardo also placed a ban on all LVMPD department staff, preventing any communication from within the department, a department that prides themselves on a nationwide model agency based on trust, transparency, and communication with the people.
Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who was recently re-elected as the Clark County Sheriff in the Nevada Primary under the nonpartisan municipal majority vote rule, owes the public explanations on the inconsistencies surrounding the Las Vegas Shooting. The mainstream media should be held accountable for censoring and editing the limited information they have provided on their platforms, yet another layer of deception and corruption that prevents the public from their right to information, and America should be held accountable for ensuring those checks and balances are in place to take back the power of the people.
Laura Loomer is an investigative journalist and conservative activist. This article is part of Laura’s investigative series into the Las Vegas shooting. If interested in supporting this project, the research and future investigations into Las Vegas, you can do so at paypal.me/lauraloomer
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