United States District Court, D. Nevada
ESTATE OF TASHI S. FARMER, et al., Plaintiffs,
LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.
before the court is plaintiff Estate of Tashi S. Farmer
(“Estate of Farmer”); E.B. K. D., a minor,
through his legal guardian Stevandra Lk Kuanoni; and T.B.K.
F.D., a minor, through her legal guardian Kuanoni
(collectively “plaintiffs”)'s motion to
certify appeal as frivolous. (ECF No. 138). Defendants Las
Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (“LVMPD”)
and Officer Kenneth Lopera filed separate responses (ECF Nos.
140, 141), to which plaintiffs filed a reply (ECF No. 142).
a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 that arises
from a physical confrontation between now-deceased Tashi S.
Farmer (“the decedent”) and Officer Lopera of the
LVMPD. (ECF No. 1). Video evidence, transcripts, and official
records inform the court of the following events:
14, 2017, Officer Lopera and Officer Ashley Lif were working
at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. (ECF No. 93-5). At
approximately 12:50 a.m., the decedent approached the
officers to inform them that he ran across Las Vegas
Boulevard because he believed that someone was following him.
(ECF Nos. 45, 92-3, 93-5). The decedent was agitated,
sweating profusely, and looking over his shoulder. (ECF No.
93-5). In response, Officer Lopera walked closer and reached
out to the decedent. (ECF Nos. 93-5, 95-4). The decedent
backed away into an employee hallway and a chase ensued.
steps into the pursuit, Officer Lopera fell. (ECF No. 95-4).
By the time he recovered, Officer Lopera no longer had sight
of the decedent. (ECF Nos. 93-5, 95-4). Officer Lopera
immediately ran through the hallway and down a stairwell,
which led him to a shared road near Venetian's
valet/self-park. (ECF No. 95-4). After receiving some
assistance from a security guard, Officer Lopera spotted the
decedent in the valet area near a white truck. Id.
Lopera believed that the decedent was attempting to carjack
the truck. (ECF No. 93-5). The operator of the vehicle,
Jonathan Pierce, was closer to the decedent and did not
perceive any attempt to enter the vehicle. (ECF No. 93-11).
However, the decedent's erratic behavior frightened
Pierce and caused him to lock the truck's doors. (ECF No.
92-6). Meanwhile, Officer Lopera sprinted to the decedent and
shouted, “Stop! Don't move! You're getting
tased!” (ECF No. 95-4). The officer then fired his
taser and the decedent fell to the floor. Id.
Lopera instructed the decedent to roll onto his stomach.
Id. The decedent initially held his hands near his
head, but then reached towards his feet and put his fingers
inside his left shoe. Id. The officer fired his
taser a second time and again instructed the decedent to roll
onto his stomach. Id. The decedent cried, “I
will, I will!” Id. A brief moment passed, but
the decedent did not comply with Officer Lopera's order.
Id. Instead, he once again reached towards his left
shoe. Id. The officer fired his taser a third time
and tried to push the decedent onto his stomach. Id.
Officer Lopera's efforts were unsuccessful. Id.
decedent continued to make erratic movements in what appears
to be an effort to resist arrest. Id. Officer Lopera
fired his taser four more times and then attempted to pull
the decedent's hands behind his back. Id. Two
security guards approached the scene to provide assistance,
which gave Officer Lopera an opportunity to step back and
holster his taser. (ECF Nos. 95-4, 96-12). The decedent's
behavior remained erratic and Officer Lopera re-engaged the
decedent, delivering numerous blows to the head. Id.
the decedent was sufficiently weakened, Officer Lopera placed
the decedent in a neck restraint. Id. At this point,
Sergeant Travis Crumrine arrived and attempted to help
effectuate the arrest. Id. After approximately 25
seconds, Sergeant Crumrine instructed Officer Lopera to let
go. Id. The decedent then attempted to escape,
causing Officer Lopera to roll over. Id.
the decedent's show of strength, Officer Lopera managed
to maintain the neck restraint while officers Michael Tran
and Michael Flores arrived. Id. Nearly 46 seconds
passed while the officers attempted to subdue and handcuff
the decedent. Id. Officers Crumrine, Tran, and
Flores eventually stepped back and Officer Lopera released
the decedent's inanimate corpse. Id.
officers applied first aid in a futile attempt to revive the
decedent. (ECF No. 93-5). Eventually, medical
personnel arrived and transported the decedent to Sunrise
Hospital & Medical Center. Id. At 1:39 a.m., the
decedent was pronounced dead. (ECF No. 45-1). The cause of
death, according to the decedent's death certificate, was
“asphyxia due to, or as a consequence of police
restraint procedures.” Id.
18, 2017, plaintiffs initiated this action. (ECF No. 1). In
their first amended complaint, plaintiffs allege six causes
of action: (1) excessive force against Officer Lopera and
failure to intercede against officers Crumrine, Tran, and
Flores; (2) violation of the Fourth Amendment against
defendant LVMPD; (3) deprivation of right to familial
relationship against Lopera, Crumrine, Tran, and Flores; (4)
deprivation of right to familial relationship against LVMPD;
(5) negligence against all defendants; and (6) battery
against Officer Lopera and LVMPD. (ECF No. 45). Plaintiffs
assert claims against the individual defendants in both their
individual and official capacities. Id.
one month after plaintiffs initiated this action, LVMPD's
Tactical Review Board (“review board”) convened a
meeting to review the officers' conduct at the March 14,
2017, incident. (ECF No. 93-5). The review board made factual
findings that are substantially consistent with the video
evidence and concluded that Officer Lopera's actions
amounted “to a gross inappropriate use of force.”
Id. The review board also concluded that Sergeant
Crumrine “was in neglect of duty as a
review board recommended terminating Officer Lopera but was
unable to take any adverse employment action because Officer
Lopera preemptively resigned. (ECF No. 92-15). The review
board also demoted Sergeant Crumrine to a patrol officer.
Id. The remaining ...