LVPD says unapproved RNC was used by officer in deadly chase

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Authorities say a Las Vegas police officer used a stun gun seven times and a rear naked choke to subdue an unarmed man who died after a foot chase through the Venetian resort on Sunday.

According to Clark County Undersheriff Kevin McMahill, Officer Kenneth Lopera believed the man had tried to carjack a vehicle with two people inside, fired the stun gun in a series of staccato bursts, and used the chokehold. The latter tactic is not approved by the Las Vegas Police Department.

The deceased was identified by the Clark County coroner as Tashii S. Brown. He was described by McMahill as 40 years of age, 6′ tall, and 195 pounds.

During the news conference, McMahill showed video from Lopera’s body camera. It is not know how much of the footage is edited. Warning: This footage is graphic, and shows a man dying.

A second video shows the bodycam and simultaneous security cam footage.

“Don’t move!” Lopera can be heard telling the man. “Get on your stomach!”

“I will!” Brown can be heard saying.

After a jolt from the stun gun takes effect, Brown can be heard crying out, “Please! Please!”

The video shows Lopera punching Brown around the head and neck as Venetian security guards and other police officers arrive and assist. McMahill reported that Brown can be heard saying he used a Rear Naked Choke. Officials said previously that Lopera had used an approved “lateral vascular neck restraint” rather than an RNC. Even the “lateral vascular neck restraint” is prohibited in many other cities.

A rear naked choke is a staple in Olympic Judo and BJJ and grappling and MMA. It does not kill people. If there was a death after an MMA fight in which someone was punched in the head and choked, the assumption would be that the cause of death was the strikes.

However, chillingly, McMahill said Lopera held the choke for over a minute.

“Farmer continued to struggle, and Officer Lopera applied what he referred to on his body-worn camera as a “Rear Naked Choke” on Farmer,” said McMahill. “Officer Lopera applied the neck restraint for over one minute.”

The video appears to confirm that, although it is difficult to tell for certain. Unconsciousness results in around 6-12 seconds when applied on an individual unfamiliar with the defense. There is no body of knowledge on what happens if you hold a choke for over a minute.

The IBJJF site lists a Kenneth Lopera from the USA as a White Belt Master competitor. While the name is unusual, it is not known if the BJJ student and the officer are one and the same individual.

Lopera, 31, a Las Vegas Police Officer for five years, is on paid leave pending DA and departmental reviews of the incident. Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said there would be a public use-of-force review, and asked for patience. Sheriff Joe Lombardo said the reviews could take several months. The incident is complex, and despite how tempting it is to do so, no definitive conclusions can be drawn from the video.

McMahill reported that the incident began when a sweating and apparently disoriented Brown approached Lopera in a casino coffee shop, said he was being chased, and then fled through an employee-only area, and outside to a parking area. This sequence can be seen clearly on the videos.

Brown has a conviction for assaulting his girlfriend and was released from prison early in 2016. He also has a February conviction for misdemeanor driving under the influence.

Brown’s mother, Trinita Farmer, was asked if she had seen the video of her son’s final moments.

“I don’t want to look,” she said. “I just want to bury my son.”