LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Relieved, but not satisfied. That was the reaction from many Americans after Derek Chauvin was convicted on all 3 counts related to the death of George Floyd. For many, the Derek Chauvin trial was about holding police officers accountable for their actions and yesterday's convictions did that.
But here in Nevada, civil rights groups argue the state's policing laws are more lax than a lot of other states and they're determined to change that.
Two years ago, Eric Farah's brother, Nicholas, was killed in Las Vegas Metro Police custody, the victim of a chokehold that's now illegal in Nevada.
"They suffocated him, positional asphyxiation. It’s the same way George Floyd had died," said Farah.
It's why he joined Families United 4 Justice Las Vegas, a group of families who have been affected by police violence and who are working towards more police accountability and transparency.
"George Floyd is absolutely a step in the right direction, but it took a lot of people and a lot of pressure to get that. And unfortunately, in Las Vegas, there’s no pressure or heat that they get," said Farah.
"It’s been 30 years without one indictment of a police officer who has murdered a citizen on duty," added Oja Vincent, co-founder of the Forced Trajectory Project.
On the long list of police reforms the group is calling for, public fact-finding reviews, the process by which the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police investigate their own officers who use deadly force, is at the top of their list.
"The public fact-finding hearing is no more than a show. Every time there’s a fact-finding hearing, the assumption is already that it’s not an indictment. There’s no indictment. They’re just trying to justify why they’re not indicting to the community," said Vincent.
The group says, of the past 85 fact-finding reviews Metro has done, none have led to an indictment or conviction of an officer.
"At this point, A.G. Ford is making some good moves to try to take some of the responsibility to create some accountability. So, that creates hope for all of us. But as it is, District Attorney [Steve] Wolfson has the final say for everything that concerns police violence, that concerns indictment, conviction and the like. The centralization of power is a problem. The district attorney has too much power," said Vincent.
Roxann McCoy, the president of the Las Vegas NAACP doubts whether Derek Chauvin would've even been tried had he knelt on George Floyd's neck in Nevada.
"The way our laws are written right now, I'm going to say probably not. I think that we have gone to great lengths to put additional policies and procedures in place with LVMPD to hold them to a greater standard and some accountability to their officers. So, the NAACP has work to do to try to close those gaps to make it harder for them to support one another and allow their officers to get off," said McCoy.
Families United 4 Justice Las Vegas has drafted 40 demands. These are policies and proposals aimed at making Metro officers more transparent and accountable for their actions.
13 Action News reached out to Attorney General Aaron Ford for comment, but he referred us to Las Vegas District Attorney, Steve Wolfson, who did not reply to our request. We felt it was important to present a police response, so we are referring back to a comment from our "Bridging the Divide" panel on Tuesday night from Steve Grammas, president of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association.
He defending Metro Police saying, "At LVMPD we have one of the finest force policies, one of the finest overall policies. We were a trendsetter when it came to policing ourselves."
But civil rights groups argue that Metro's self-policing policies have created a lack of accountability within the force.