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Robert Martinez, former Civilian Vice Chairman, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Use of Force Review Board
Mike Blasky, crime reporter, Las Vegas Review-Journal
BY IAN MYLCHREEST -- Former Co-chairman of the Metro’s Use of Force Board Robert Martinez was angered when he heard Sheriff Doug Gillespie say that in future he’d tell the board if he was overturning their decisions before he told the media. “There can’t be a next time … but it means he’s going to do it again.”
Martinez says that he was disillusioned about the police department’s commitment to reform after he sat on the Use of Force Board reviewing the case of Jacquar Roston, the officer who shot an unarmed civilian who was sitting in a car when the officer was investigating a domestic dispute.
Saying that he had watched criminal trials as a reporter but the evidence against Roston was overwhelming. And the board of four civilians and three officers voted unanimously to dismiss the officer. Gillespie, he said, should not have reversed the board’s recommendation simply because Roston apologized.
“He turned it into a political process,” said Martinez. “And when I say that, I have to include the Police Protective Association.” The union will be crucial to Gillespie’s re-election, he adds, and that’s why Gillespie reversed the decision. Saying the officers have a mentality of “us and them,” he called the police union “terrorists.”
“And do we negotiate with terrorists? No!” Martinez said. But, he says, Gillespie did negotiate with terrorists.
The episode has left Martinez despondent. “Change will never come from within the department.”
Las Vegas Review-Journal Reporter Mike Blasky is a little more sanguine. “I don’t know what’s going to happen next,” he said. “It depends how people view this. It depends how the voters view this and how the department views this.”
Previous investigations have never found a conflict between the Use of Force Board and the Pre-termination Arbitration, noted Blasky, because no board had ever recommended terminating an officer.
Blasky predicts that future hearings will be business as usual. Even with the six resignations that had come by Thursday, there is still a pool of civilians to sit on the Use of Force Board. And even though Officer Jesus Arevalo’s Use of Force Board has recommended termination, he still has to be reviewed by the pre-termination appeal. Gillespie took a few months to make a decision on Roston’s case and Blasky expects that a decision in Arevalo’s case is some time off.