Vegas police fire officer who hesitated during mass shooting
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A veteran Las Vegas police officer who froze in the hallway of a casino-hotel as a gunman carried out the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history has been fired from the force, police said.
Officer Cordell Hendrex was fired from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department on March 20, police spokesman Officer Larry Hadfield said late Tuesday.
The department declined to answer further questions, saying the firing was in arbitration.
Police union president Steve Grammas said Hendrex was fired because of his actions during the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting that left 58 people dead and hundreds more injured.
Hendrex, a Las Vegas officer since 2007, was teaching a rookie officer how to write trespassing tickets at the Mandalay Bay casino-hotel when their radios crackled with a report of a shooting and multiple casualties.
Hendrex, the trainee and three Mandalay Bay security officers ran toward an elevator and got off on the 31st floor of the hotel, a floor below where they believed the gunman was firing. Body camera video showed Hendrex leading the group down a hallway before they hear the first of at least five separate volleys of gunfire in a three-minute span.
“That’s rapid fire,” Hendrex says while shouting an expletive.
The group stops and Hendrex uses his radio to tell dispatchers he can hear the gunfire coming from above them.
After they are advised to take cover from what seemed to be automatic gunfire, the group stands in the hallway for about five minutes before Hendrex leads them halfway up a stairwell to the 32nd floor. They remain there for at least 15 minutes, when the video clip ends.
Hendrex acknowledged in a police report that he was “terrified with fear.”
“I froze right there in the middle of the hall for how long I can’t say,” he wrote in the report.
Calls to a phone number listed for Hendrex in public records rang unanswered Tuesday and Wednesday.
Grammas told the Las Vegas Review-Journal the union does not believe the officer should have been fired and is fighting to get him reinstated.
News of the termination came after the firing of four police officers in Florida as a result of their inaction to the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, where a gunman killed 17 people.
Balsamo reported from New York.