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Family hopes for federal charges in chokehold death after ex-officer not indicted

Tashii Brown's mother, ACLU release statements
Posted at 2:00 PM, Jul 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-27 13:25:27-04

UPDATE 11:30 P.M. JULY 27: The attorney representing Tashii Brown's family says they plan to take evidence in his death to the FBI in hopes of getting federal charges brought against the officer involved in Brown's May 2017 death.

This just hours after a Clark County grand jury decided against indicting the former Las Vegas police officers.

"We hope the FBI will meet with the U.S. Attorney and decide to charge officer Lopera," Andre  Lagomarsino said.

The attorney said Brown's mother was devastated by the decision.

On the other side, the president of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association said officer Kenneth Lopera was relieved by the decision.

"Ken Lopera did not have intent to kill the subject that night," LVPPA President Steve Grammas said.  "He felt happy and relieved and appreciative of the grand jury itself."

Grammas also called for the district attorney to hold a public fact-finding hearing so everyone can see the evidence presented in the grand jury hearing.

PREVIOUS STORY: A grand jury decided to not indict a former Las Vegas police officer in a 2017 chokehold death.

The lawyer for Tashii Brown's family and the Las Vegas Police Protective Association confirmed the information to 13 Action News. LVPPA president Steve Grammas said in a press conference Thursday that former officer Kenneth Lopera feels relieved and appreciative that the grand jury came to the decision it did.

“This wasn’t a group of officers that made this decision,” Grammas said Thursday. 

He noted it was a group of private citizens that came to this decision after reviewing everything. The LVPPA hopes the District Attorney's Office will follow the direction of the grand jury and dismiss the case.

RELATED: Mother of man killed by Las Vegas police officer files lawsuit

Lopera has been facing charges of involuntary manslaughter and oppression under the color of office in the May 2017 death of Brown, also known as Tashii Farmer.

"[Lopera] had no intent to kill the subject that night," Grammas said Thursday. 

Brown's mother, Trinita, released a statement through her lawyer, Andre Lagomarsino. It reads in part:

"After killing my son in public, the grand jury secretly exonerated Lopera. Welcome to Vegas, where police can kill a defenseless human being, brag about it, and then get away scot free. I hope the public is as outraged as our family is at the killing of our son, father and brother. For no reason! No reason at all! Tashii was a good man. He did not deserve this."

The Clark County coroner determined Brown died of asphyxia due to police restraint procedures in addition to methamphetamine and an enlarged heart. 

The LVPPA brought medical experts to the grand jury that concluded he died of cardiac arrest in addition to the methamphetamine in his system. 

RELATED: Grand jury to get Las Vegas police manslaughter case

According to police, uniformed officers were attempting to conduct a stop with Farmer inside the Venetian hotel-casino, who was reportedly acting erratic and stated people were "chasing him."

He took off running into a secured area after officers tried to speak with him. Officials say that, as they caught up to him, Farmer attempted to enter a citizen's pickup truck and they were forced to use a Taser on him.

Initial information indicated that Farmer was placed in a Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint after continuing to resist arrest. The restraint requires officers to apply pressure to the side of a subject's neck to overcome resistance and allow safe control.

However, investigators say that an officer, later identified as Lopera, may have applied a rear naked choke to Farmer. The technique is not approved by Las Vegas police.

The ACLU of Nevada Executive Director Tod Story also released a statement, referring to the chokehold used:

“The decision not to indict former officer Kenneth Lopera is a travesty of justice. It is inexplicable that a jury would watch a video of Lopera choking Mr. Brown to death and not hold him accountable. As we have said since the death of Mr. Brown, who did not commit any crime the night he was killed, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department should follow the examples of Henderson and North Las Vegas and ban the use of the Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint. If LVNR remains an option on the use of force continuum, there is a likelihood of more deaths.”