LAS VEGAS (CN) – Las Vegas police shot a black man in the face and killed him – for trying to flush a small amount of marijuana down the toilet in his apartment, the man’s family says. The family says the police squad “drank alcohol on the job during the relevant time period at issue in this lawsuit.”
Trevon Cole, 21, “a vibrant young man full of life and energy,” who had just moved to Las Vegas with his pregnant fiancée with the “hope of starting a new life together” and playing football at UNLV was shot to death by Det. Bryan Yant on June 11, 2010, his family says in their federal complaint.
Cole was unarmed when about 11 officers raided his small, one-bedroom apartment in East Las Vegas, according to the complaint. He was watching TV with his fiancée, Sequoia Pearce, when officers destroyed the front door and “broke through a window to raid the sparsely furnished apartment.”
Cole ran to the “only bathroom in the apartment and began flushing down the toilet what little marijuana he had in his possession,” the complaint states.
As Cole squatted in front of the toilet, Yant kicked in the door and shot him in the side of the face with an AR-15 assault rifle, the family says.
“Cole posed no threat to Yant at any time before he was brutally killed,” the complaint states.
Cole’s only crime was that he had “sold an approximate total of 1.8 ounces of marijuana, over the period of a month, to undercover Det. Christopher Cannon,” according to the complaint.
After the killing, Cole’s family says, the defendant Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department followed its “policy, practice and custom … to slant all investigations of officer-involved shootings in favor of the shooting officer. The goal of the investigations is to concoct excuses for ‘bad shoots’ instead of investigating these matters in a neutral fashion and punishing the shooting officers when appropriate.”
Cole’s family claims that “certain members” of Officer Yant’s squad had been drinking alcohol that day.
The complaint states: “At all relevant times herein, it was a policy, practice and custom for certain members, including higher ranking officers, of Metro to drink alcohol while they were working and investigating alleged cases, including the case of Trevon Cole. Specifically, certain members of Team 8, the squad of Bryan Yant, drank alcohol on the job during the relevant time period at issue in this lawsuit. Metro conducted an investigation of these allegations but took no significant action against the officers that participated in this behavior.
“There is a policy, practice and custom to not hold officers accountable for acting with misfeasance, malfeasance, in violation of the law, and in violation of written Metro policies. Killing unarmed citizens who pose no threat will not cost a job at Metro. Misrepresenting facts on official legal documents and under oath has not real consequences at Metro. Drinking on the job will not cost a job at Metro.”
Cole’s family seeks punitive damages for civil rights violations, intentional infliction of emotional distress, conspiracy, negligent training, battery and wrongful death.
Named as defendants, along with Yant, are his supervisor, John Harney, and Las Vegas Metro Police Department Sheriff Douglas Gillespie.
The family is represented by Andre Lagomarsino with Parker Scheer Lagomarsino.