Photos and reporting by Eduardo Rossal-Cabrera
Las Vegas, NV - On August 18, 2019, the Nevada community gathered at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Las Vegas for a public forum centered on public testimony of police misconduct and violence. Titled, “Police Use of Force: the Nevada Community Speaks,” the event was sparked by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s recent claim that their department is the national model for reform. Over a hundred people came to listen to victims and survivors of police misconduct and violence, including five elected officials: Senator Melanie Scheible, Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel, Assemblyman Richard Carrillo, Assemblywoman Bea Duran, and Assemblyman William McCurdy II.
From intimidation to sexual assault to homicide, the testimonies displayed a wide array of police misconduct. With over 15 testimonies, some stories left the audience in tears.
Included were three stories of police homicide. Jacqueline Lawrence traveled all the way from Phoenix to share the story of her son, Keith Childress, Jr., who was gunned down in broad daylight on December 31, 2015, in a private neighborhood near Desert Inn and Cimarron. He only had a cell phone in his hand. On July 14, 2011, Alma Chavez called 911 for crisis intervention while her son, Rafael Olivas was suffering an emotional breakdown. When the Crisis Intervention Team of the LVMPD arrived along with a slew of other police officers, Olivas, 23-years-old, was shot multiple times in front of his mother in a matter of minutes. To this day, Chavez suffers the traumatic images of her son taking his last breath. Petra Wilson, now a widow with nine children, spoke of her husband, Rex Wilson, who was chased for 10 miles and shot 36 times. He died on October 13, 2016.
The following are some of the images captured during this first Police Use of Force forum in Las Vegas.
Minister Vance "Stretch" Sanders, a local activist and former mayoral candidate who ran against Mayor Goodman was one of the MCs for the forum. August 18, 2019, Las Vegas, NV.
Melanie Scheible, Nevada State Senator, listening to the many speakers at the first Police Use of Force forum. She represents the 9th District, the southwest corner of Las Vegas, which includes Spring Valley and Summerlin. August 18, 2019, Las Vegas, NV.
While watching television, Jacqueline Lawrence saw that her 23-years-old son, Keith Childress Jr., was shot and killed by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. The police claim they thought his cell phone was a gun. August 18, 2019, Las Vegas, NV.
Assembly William McCurdy II listening to the the many speakers at the first Police Use of Force forum. In an interview with Forced Trajectory Project journalist Shannon Miller, McCurdy stated that police abuse was something he and his community has had to deal with in the past. August 18, 2019, Las Vegas, NV.
Alma Chavez speaking at the first Police Use of Force forum about the death of her son, Rafael Olivas. Olivas, 23, was shot and killed by the LVMPD. Chavez called 911 and requested crisis intervention during an argument with Olivas. Olivas was gunned down within 3 minutes of the officers arriving to the scene. August 18, 2019, Las Vegas, NV.
Cristina Paulos, a local artist that uses charcoal and ink to create abstract illustrations of the human body's emotional spectrum, shares her experience of police brutality. In August of 2011, Paulos was in a car accident and was disoriented, needing help to calm down. In the surveillance video a Las Vegas Metropolitan police officer can be seen pushing her away and then grabbing her and throwing her down on the pavement in the Vegas summer heat. Paulos was held down against her will for 3 minutes receiving burns on her face, left leg and breast. She sustained three-degree burns on left leg and breast. August 18, 2019, Las Vegas, NV.
Assemblymen Richard Carrillo sits attentively at the first Police Use of Force forum. He said the story of Cristina Paulos was heart wrenching. "I have lived here for 35 years, or 33 years, somewhere down those lines. I know how hot the pavement, the metal gets. I'm an air-conditioning technician by trade. If you are on the rooftops and leave your tools for five seconds its already hot, I couldn't imagine the pain she was feeling, lying on that hot asphalt." August18, 2019, Las Vegas, NV.
Rebel Rae described being sexually assaulted by a Las Vegas Metropolitan police officer who frequented the same nightclub she did. Rae is a part of a group called the Las Vegas Sex Workers Collective that organizes for the rights of sex workers and aims to raise awareness of the stigmas and abuses they endure. August 18, 2019, Las Vegas, NV.
Ellen Speigel, Nevada Assembly representing District 20, listening to the speakers telling their experiences with Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. August 18, 2019, Las Vegas, NV.
Petra Wilson pauses painfully while telling the story of her husband, Rex Wilson, 50. Her and her husband are a part of the Oglala Sioux Tribe Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and left the reservation for a better life. He was shot 36 times after a 10-mile car chase. He was unarmed. August 18, 2019, Las Vegas, NV.
Jesus Carvajal, who was wrongfully accused of violent crimes and then released due to mistaken identity after two weeks in jail, displays the lineup photos an eyewitness was given to identify the perpetrator. While all charges were dropped, Carvajal's life was turned upside down as a result of this event, losing his job, vehicle, and reputation. August 18, 2019, Las Vegas, NV.