LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A Las vegas police union leader is questioning if the escape of a 19-time felon, shooting involving police, and pursuit that ended downtown could have been prevented if the county's detention center was not facing a critical staffing shortage.
"I don't believe any of this happens if there were two officers with the inmate," said Las Vegas Police Protective Association Vice President Scott Nicholas.
"It was a very large man with a violent history, had no reason to not try and escape," added Nicolas about the inmate escape that occurred Wednesday.
According to police, Christopher Gregory Ganci, was on a routine medical visit at a provider near Maryland Parkway and Vegas Valley Drive and being supervised by a police officer working a volunteer overtime shift for the Clark County Detention Center.
Nicholas said police officers routinely work overtime shifts to cover medical transports due to low staffing at the Clark County Detention Center.
According to investigators, Ganci and the officer were in the process of leaving the medical facility and returning to the detention center when a white pickup truck, used in auto detailing, pulled up to the medical facility and the occupants got out.
The occupants left the truck running and that is when Ganci overpowered the officer and made his way into the truck and sped away, police said.
Seconds later, dash camera video from citizen Mario Lopez, catches the sound of three gunshots and shows the white pickup truck ramming several cars at Maryland Parkway and Vegas Valley Drive.
Nicholas questioned if low staffing and efforts to cut overtime costs played a role in the crime spree.
"It comes back to pressure from the Clark County Commissioner just as recently as Monday at that budget hearing," said Nicholas.
During a budget meeting on Monday, two days before the inmate escape, shooting and pursuit, Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick took exception with Nicholas and a 13 Investigates story about plans to cut jail costs by reducing salaries that aired in November.
"Yeah you can’t win with me today Scott, because you said union busting [in the story] I’m trying to get you more members and I can’t even get through the overtime piece," said Kirkpatrick citing massive overtime hours and costs.
Kirkpatrick went on to show the 13 Investigates story during the budget, adding the plan to cut costs was her idea.
In the 13 Investigates story, Nicholas predicted moves to cut costs may have some disastrous consequences including inmate escapes which could impact downtown Las Vegas.
"They are fears that are real, I didn't just say them to be dramatic," said Nicholas.
According to Commissioner Kirkpatrick, 28 out of the top 100 earners at The Las Vegas Metropolitan Department, were corrections officers.
Some corrections officers made nearly $150,000 in overtime in a single year.
"Somebody better fix it," said Kirkpatrick while demanding action plans to reduce overtime costs by up to 30 percent.
13 Investigates attempted to contact Kirkpatrick by phone and through a county spokesperson on Thursday but a request for an interview was not immediately granted.