Las Vegas Shooting of Homeless Man Raises Excessive Force Concerns

large_security-guard

Running a successful business in Nevada means investing time, energy, and money. Any shrewd investor knows that it is important to protect the assets one has invested in. In a business context, this can include precautions such as hiring a security firm. But as a recent incident shows, these same precautions can involve a small business in the controversies and liabilities of police excessive force and even wrongful death.

Business owners pay to lease or buy the space they use to run their business, and they are responsible for other costs including tools and technology like phones, computers, copiers, etc. When a business owner leaves their place of work at the end of the day, it is reasonable for them to worry about the safety of the space and goods they leave behind. Many invest in security measures such as locks, alarms, and cameras. In cases where the risk is extreme or the neighborhood is notably dangerous, some business owners will even invest in a private security service. These business owners will pay for professional security guards to keep eyes on the business after hours. However, security guards are not trained to the level of a law enforcement agent. Under stress, some security guards may respond with force that is unwarranted and possibly deadly.

In late June, this scenario played out at a business near the 215 Beltway and Decatur Boulevard in Las Vegas, Nevada. Just after midnight on June 29, an argument broke out between a homeless man and a security guard in front of a SkinnyFATS restaurant. Police say that the incident was recorded by surveillance cameras in front of the building. The victim’s name was Max Garcia, and later reporting indicated that he was a 27-year-old man with two daughters. He had recently fallen on hard times and was living on the streets. Friends remembered him as “the life of the party.” Security camera footage shows armed security guard Brian Love, who was on duty at the time, arguing with Garcia before pulling out a gun and shooting Garcia at least six times. The cause of the argument is unknown. After the shooting, Love got into his truck and drove away, apparently without reporting the encounter. Garcia’s body was found seven hours later. Love was arrested at his apartment later that day.[1]

Gun Laws in Nevada

While the suddenness and violence of this possible crime may be shocking to many, guns are an extremely present part of Nevada culture. According to CBS news, the gun ownership rate in Nevada is 37.5%. [2] Nevada gun laws operate at the local county level on a “Shall Issue” policy. Nevada is an open-carry state, meaning that more areas are accessible to people who are openly carrying weapons than to those who are concealed carrying. There are several preconditions for those who wish to obtain a concealed carry (also known as a carrying concealed weapons, or CCW) permit, including:

  • Must be at least 21 years of age
  • Must not have been declared mentally insane or have been admitted to a mental health facility in the last five years
  • Must not have been convicted of a felony or a crime involving domestic violence or stalking
  • Must not be on parole or probation
  • Must not be a fugitive from justice
  • Must be a lawful resident of the United States

A concealed carry permit costs $96 and is valid for five years. [3]

Security Guards and Guns

Owning a gun is a big responsibility. Like Love, many security guards carry firearms for work, but many also do so with minimal oversight and little training. Many people feel that this poses a danger to public safety. Security guards may receive only a few hours of safety training before being issued a firearm to carry openly on the job. This has resulted in several past tragedies. In Atlanta, a security guard with a history of erratic and threatening behavior gunned down an unarmed man while patrolling an apartment complex. In Arizona, an armed guard (who was prohibited by law from possessing a firearm) shot a teenager whom he caught shoplifting food. The child was paralyzed from the waist down. In Miami in 2012, an armed guard fired on two unarmed black men, killing one and injuring the other. Few states require any sort of mental-health examination for those hoping to serve as armed security guards. [4]

Gun Injuries and Deaths in Nevada Annually

Gun deaths and injuries in the United States are a serious and growing problem. In 2016 there were more than 11,000 deaths as a result of injuries from firearms. This statistic did not include suicides and accidental shootings. This included 141 deaths in Nevada. Most of these deaths were due to injuries caused by handguns, with only two of them involving a rifle of some kind. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal agency, Nevada ranked 15th in the country in terms of its gun death rate with 16.8 deaths per 100,000 residents. [5]

If you or someone you know is injured by a firearm, remain calm and have someone call 911 immediately. Remove yourself and the injured person from danger if possible, and make the injured person as comfortable as you can. Do not move the injured person, as you may exacerbate sustained injuries. If you can do so, gather information about the scene by taking pictures, and see if you can gather witnesses. Once police arrive, relay any pertinent information. Finally, contact a personal injury attorney to make sure you understand your rights as a victim of excessive force or any other form of gun violence.

[1] https://news3lv.com/news/local/homeless-man-allegedly-shot-by-security-guard-leaves-behind-daughter

[2] https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/gun-ownership-rates-by-state/36/

[3] https://www.gunstocarry.com/gun-laws-state/nevada-gun-laws/

[4] https://www.revealnews.org/article/americas-gun-toting-security-guards-may-not-be-fit-for-duty/

[5] https://patch.com/nevada/reno/heres-number-gun-deaths-nevada

Benson and Bingham