LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Edgar Samaniego, who pleaded guilty to shooting and critically injuring Las Vegas police Officer Shay Mikalonis in June of 2020, was sentenced on Friday.
Mikalonis survived severe injuries to his spinal cord that left him paralyzed from the neck down.
Samaniego, who was 20 at the time of his arrest, appeared in court on Friday at 1:30 p.m. to be sentenced. Mikalonis' family members spoke on his behalf.
Watch the hearing in the player below:
SENTENCING: LIVE UPDATES
1:30 p.m. — Mikalonis was present at the hearing as it commenced.
1:50 p.m. — Samaniego's defense attorney argued a history of childhood trauma, substance abuse and mental health issues contributed to his actions and should be considered in his sentence. He said Samaniego was "self-medicating" to the point that he didn't know he'd shot a police officer until he was told in jail.
"He did take full responsibility and he did not want Shay or his family to go through any kind of preliminary hearing, any kind of trial," his lawyer said. "He did want to take responsibility early, which he did."
2:00 p.m. — Mikalonis' father took the stand to give a victim impact statement. He talked about how the injury and paralysis have effected his son, who cannot talk, eat, swallow or breathe on his own. It takes three hours to get him ready for the day, and he cannot do it without help, "which is humiliating for him," his father said. Mikalonis "lived a full life" before he was shot, his father said. He loved to play hockey and go dancing with his friends "which are now few and far between," he said.
"Shay is always on our mind and worry is constant. It never goes away. Because of one shot, it changed the lives of five people. Shay and his family got a life sentence without parole," Gui Mikalonis said.
2:10 p.m. — Shay's mother Sharon Neville gives her victim impact statement, saying her life and her family's lives have been changed forever. Her son has suffered irreparable damage, has been robbed of his dignity and independence. He can't even swallow his own saliva, she says.
"It's not OK. It will never be OK," she said. "...He'll never run, travel or play hockey again. He mourns the life that was taken from him. My son was sentenced to a life he never chose."
2:15 p.m. — Shay's stepfather described the damage to his stepson as "catastrophic."
"Shay lives in a prison of his own body... This injury now defines his life for the rest of his life," Patrick Neville says.
2:17 p.m. — Judge Carli Kierny speaks next. "Officer Mikalonis was only doing his job...and he didn't deserve this," she says.
"This can't get any closer to an actual murder," she says before handing down the sentence: an aggregate of 20 to 50 years in the Nevada Department of Corrections for the eight charges against Samaniego. She noted he had already served 698 days toward that sentence.
Samaniego was arrested after the shooting, which happened during a protest on the Strip in June of 2020. Mikalonis was one of the officers arresting protesters near Circus Circus when he was shot, according to an arrest report.
The report states that Samaniego was seen on video walking west on Circus Circus Drive from Las Vegas Boulevard when he looked over his left shoulder, pulled out a gun, and fired in the direction of the police officers. He then continued walking west, putting the gun in his pants, the report stated.
Officers found bullet casings from a Luger 9mm after the shooting. Using surveillance video to identify Samaniego, they tracked him down at a motel and arrested him.
During an interview with police, Samaniego expressed regret about the shooting, and said he was just trying to scare away protesters. But detectives disputed that sentiment based on the surveillance video, which they said shows Samaniego holding the gun with both hands and aiming in the officers' direction.
Samaniego pleaded guilty in November to the eight charges against him, including attempted murder.