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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Families Gain Voice At Coroner Inquests

Police Say They Won't Testify If Cross-Examined

December 9, 2010
Fox 5 News

LAS VEGAS -- Police officers who fatally shoot someone while on duty in Clark County will now have to face cross-examination by an ombudsman during coroner's inquests.

Clark County Commissioners voted in favor of changing the coroner's inquest process, which had for decades only allowed for questioning by the district attorney and didn't allow for cross-examination by the families of those killed.

The changes were spearheaded by the family of Erik Scott, who was shot and killed by three officers outside a Costco in Summerlin. At the time of Scott's inquest, which ultimately found the officers justified in killing Scott, the family described the process as a "circus."

The police union said officers won't testify if they are going to be questioned by the ombudsman and said they will plead the Fifth to avoid incriminating themselves.

The vote to change the coroner's inquest process was not unanimous. Commissioners Steve Sisolak and Larry Brown voted against the changes. Commissioner Tom Collins was absent.

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