Ed. Note: The video attached to this report contains raw footage that may not be appropriate for sensitive viewers. Viewer and parental discretion advised.
ST. GEORGE — A Dammeron Valley man is dead and a police officer injured after the Utahn opened fire on police in what began as a routine traffic stop in Las Vegas; Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department released raw body-cam footage of the incident, which may be viewed at the top of this report.
According to a statement released by Las Vegas Metro Police, its Officer Carlos Luna initiated a traffic stop on the man later identified as James Michael Todora, 54, of Dammeron Valley, on Edmond Street north of Sahara Avenue driving a gold Jeep Grand Cherokee with an inoperative tail light. When Luna directed Todora to pull over at 9:30 a.m. on July 10, Todora came to a stop at the 5600 block of West Sahara Avenue just west of Lindell Avenue.
Todora exited the vehicle and began shouting at Luna to shoot him, the Metro Police statement said. Todora was ordered to come back to the officer’s vehicle, which he disregarded and returned back to the Jeep’s driver seat and sat down.
Officer Luna quickly approached the driver side of the vehicle, the statement said, and began explaining the reason for the vehicle stop.
Luna’s body cam video released by Metro Police shows an exchange between Luna and Todora in which Todora said he thought he was being pulled over for going by his wife’s house in Enterprise, referring to an altercation with her the day before in which he was put in handcuffs.
While Luna was attempting to de-escalate the situation with Todora, who was very agitated about an incident that took place a day prior involving police, Officers Jonathan Lipinski and Brian Kroening were conducting a vehicle stop of their own on Sahara Avenue just to the west, the Metro Police statement said. Kroening observed Todora’s actions and began to walk east to Luna’s vehicle stop to assist.
Todora told Luna he had a rifle inside of the Jeep, the body cam video shows. Luna asked Todora to exit the vehicle, the Metro Police statement said, due to weapons being present and his aggressive attitude.
“Todora refused to exit and stated he was going to shoot himself,” according to the Metro Police statement. “Todora then retrieved a Ruger 9mm P95 handgun that was concealed underneath a blanket in the passenger seat and pointed it at Officer Luna’s head. The handgun made a click, but did not discharge. Officer Luna retreated to the rear of the Jeep to a position of cover.”
Another marked police unit arrived to assist, the Metro Police statement said. As Officer Evan Hogue got out of that unit, Todora fired a round from inside the Jeep grazing and wounding Hogue in the neck.
Kroening had positioned himself at the passenger side of the Jeep, the Metro Police statement said, and began to engage Todora with his duty weapon.
“Officer Kroening fired three rounds striking Todora,” the statement said. “Officer Kroening subsequently retreated to a position of cover and waited for additional units to arrive. An arrest team was formed and took Todora into custody. Medical personnel were immediately summoned and Todora was pronounced deceased at the scene.”
Hogue was treated at University Medical Center in Las Vegas and released later in the day.
The shooting remains under investigation by Metro police.
According to the Metro Police statement, this is the department’s fourth officer-involved shooting and second suspect fatality of 2015.
This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.
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