Charges dropped against ex-Vegas officer in chokehold death

LAS VEGAS — Charges including involuntary manslaughter were dropped Thursday against a former Las Vegas police officer accused of using an unapproved chokehold in the death of an unarmed man following a chase out of a casino last year.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said he sought dismissal of the case because a grand jury last week refused to indict the former officer, Kenneth Christopher Lopera, in the death of 40-year-old Tashii Farmer Brown.

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Prosecutors will in coming weeks publicly air in a non-court venue “very similar if not the exact same evidence” that was presented in secret to grand jurors, Wolfson said.

The case spawned community protests and a federal excessive force and wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Brown’s children that is pending.

The dismissal of state charges was hailed by Lopera’s legal and union representatives, who had sent to the grand jury in recent months evidence that Brown died of cardiac arrest and methamphetamine intoxication, not a chokehold.

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That was to rebut a Clark County coroner finding last year that Brown’s death was a homicide resulting from “asphyxia due to police restraint,” with an enlarged heart and methamphetamine in Brown’s system as “significant contributing conditions.”

Andre Lagomarsino, attorney for Brown’s mother, Trinita Farmer, said he’ll ask the FBI to open a criminal civil rights investigation against Lopera, who was dismissed from the Las Vegas police force last September following an internal affairs probe that found he violated department use-of-force policies.

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