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Court rejects coroner's inquests for officer-related shootings

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Updated: 10/25/2012 4:36 pm
The Nevada Supreme Court strikes down Clark County's coroner's inquest process. A coroner's inquest is the fact-finding process that occurs any time a police officer takes a life. News 3's Mackenzie Warren is looking into what this means for the backlog of these cases. To put it simply --  the decision does not throw out the inquest process entirely--but it is still on hold. There has not been a public hearing in these 19 instances of officer-involved-shootings in two years.

The Nevada Supreme Court today struck down Clark County's revised coroner's inquest process.

The ruling keeps in limbo how Clark County holds police officers accountable when they take a life.

After two highly controversial police shootings, the county commission revamped the inquest process, adding a lawyer to represent the dead person's family.

The commission also put the process under the supervision of a justice of the peace, which is what the high court found objectionable.

The court says only the legislature can determine what justices of the peace do, not county commissioners.

Today's ruling finds the revamped procedure unconstitutional.

Also, the court ruled the new inquest procedure does not violate an officer's rights to due process.

Police had sued, claiming the inquest system is more adversarial, putting officers at risk of criminal or civil charges.

The case dealt with the coroner’s inquest involving Eduardo Lopez-Hernandez, who died in August 2010 after repeated Taser hits during an encounter with Nevada Highway Patrol troopers.


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