Officer used Taser 7 times and choke hold in fatal chase
A Las Vegas police officer involved in a deadly foot chase over the weekend used a stun gun seven times and held a man in a chokehold before he lost consciousness, authorities said Wednesday.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Officer Kenneth Lopera, 31, said he believed Tashii Farmer, 40, was trying to break into to a vehicle when he discharged his Taser and placed him in an unapproved rear neck hold for more than a minute, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said at a press conference Wednesday evening.
Lopera has been placed on paid leave as the department investigates the matter.
Bodycam video and security footage provided by the department appears to show Lopera chasing Farmer early Sunday as he ran through an employee-only area of a coffee shop in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.
The video, which was shown at the press conference Wednesday, also appears to show the officer, who is white, firing his stun gun several times before putting Farmer, who is black, in a neck restraint until other officers arrived to find Farmer unconscious.
Department officials said previously that the officer used an approved restraint technique, which is banned in many other cities, but a subsequent investigation revealed that he used a “rear naked choke,” a martial arts chokehold that is not approved.
Farmer would not have faced charges had he survived the incident, according to the department.
The episode began at about 12:50 a.m. Sunday when Farmer approached Lopera and his partner at a casino coffee shop in the Venetian. Farmer was sweating heavily, looked panicked and said people were chasing him, according to the department, then ran into the restricted area.
Lopera ran after the man but lost sight of him before catching up to him outside the hotel, where, Lopera said, Farmer was attempting to open the tailgate of an occupied pickup truck, according to authorities. Farmer was not armed.
“Don’t move! Get on your stomach!” Lopera can be heard yelling in the video.
Farmer responds, “I will! I will!”
The recording then shows Farmer on his back with his arms up before another shock from the Taser stiffens him. Farmer yells out, “Please! Please!”
The two then begin to tussle as the officer tries to handcuff Farmer. Lopera hits Farmer on the head and neck from behind as hotel authorities assist and other police officers arrive.
The bodycam does not capture the alleged chokehold but does record Lopera later describing it as a “rear naked choke,” according to the department.
The cause of death has not yet been determined, and a toxicology report could take six to eight weeks to complete, the department said.
Farmer grew up in Hawaii, where he has two children, and he lived with his mother, Trinita Farmer, in Las Vegas.
His cousin Tynisa Braun said he had a business selling shoes, hats and apparel.
Trinita Farmer told The Associated Press that she does not want to see the recording of the struggle that left her son dead.
“I don’t want to look,” she said. “I just want to bury my son.”
The Associated Press reported that Lopera is being represented by the Las Vegas Police Protective Union. Its executive director, Steve Grammas, declined AP’s request for comment, saying he had not reviewed video from the episode.
Lopera has not provided a statement to investigators, according to AP.
ABC’s Kayna Whitworth and The Associated Press contributed to this report.