Officials air findings in Nevada shooting that left 4 dead
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Authorities aired the results Monday of the investigation of an Election Day 2020 police shooting that killed a man in a vehicle after the man killed two women, wounded a teenage girl and abducted a 12-year-old boy who died when he was shot as police approached.
The hearing about the Henderson police shooting of Jason Neo Bourne, a 38-year-old who changed his name because he admired a movie character, suggested that Bourne shot the boy several times, including in the head, after police opened fire into the boy’s family’s Cadillac Escalade.
Bourne, sitting in the driver’s seat, fired seven shots with a .40 caliber handgun, according to evidence presented by Henderson police Detective Richard Christopher, the only investigator questioned during the hearing dubbed a public fact-finding review.
The proceeding, overseen by an attorney former state Assembly member and presented by a county prosecutor, did not conclusively answer whether one or more of the 27 shots fired by police struck the boy sitting in the passenger seat next to Bourne — who continued talking with a 911 dispatcher until gunfire erupted and was heard exclaiming “Yeah,” as officers began a second volley of fire.
However, “We believe Jason Bourne was responsible for the boy’s wounds,” Christopher said after summarizing results of autopsies of the four people who died that day.
Killed were Dianne Hawatmeh, 38, the boy’s mother; family housekeeper Veronica Muniz, 33, of Las Vegas; and the boy, Joseph Hawatmeh. The boy’s 16-year-old sister was shot several times and remains a paraplegic, family attorney Roger Croteau said Monday.
“We’re not making a statement one way or another who shot Joseph,” Croteau said following the emotional four-hour proceeding at the Clark County Commission auditorium.
Croteau is handling a federal lawsuit that the boy’s father, Iehab Hawatmeh filed in October in Las Vegas against Henderson police, departmental supervisors and the seven officers who fired shots that day.
“We do know that (police) took the first shot,” the attorney said. “One second later, the car was lit up with … contagion firing. They rushed the vehicle and didn’t wait for SWAT or a negotiator to arrive.”
Bourne was armed with a .40-caliber handgun, and police used 9mm handguns and .223-caliber tactical rifles. Medical examiners did not retrieve identifiable bullets from the boy’s body, according to the investigation.
The non-judicial public review is provided by Clark County law instead of a coroner’s inquest following a police-involved death if the district attorney makes a preliminary finding that involved officers will not face criminal prosecution. The officers themselves do not take part.
Police body-worn camera video and 911 audio aired Monday offered a heart-wrenching and dramatic account of 30 minutes of confusion that officials said may have stemmed from Bourne’s anger about a noise complaint that his downstairs neighbors made days before the shooting.
It also highlighted apparent delusions and ramblings of a man who called police 911 from the Escalade, changed the pitch of his voice several times, identified himself variously as a character from the future, “not from this planet” and the super villain Bane from the movie, “Batman,” and demanded that police provide him with a helicopter within minutes.
Joseph Hawatmeh could be heard in the background as Bourne abruptly interrupted apparent train-of-thought comments to the 911 dispatcher several times, uttering the phrase, “XM Satellite Radio 1.1 Gigawatts.”
Bourne had no criminal history and legally purchased his gun before he legally changed his name in 2014 from Christopher Curry, said Christopher, the police detective.
Bourne served nearly 15 years in the U.S. Air Force in various countries before being honorably discharged in 2017, Christopher said. He was a disabled veteran whose roommate, a retired Air Force member, told police was writing a book, regularly used marijuana and sometimes covered apartment windows fearing that others could see in.
The police detective said Bourne’s computer files showed he “strongly believed in QAnon theories,” including “that celebrities wear lifelike masks but are actually politicians that were part of a secret pedophile society that controlled the world.”
Among Bourne’s handwritten notes, Christopher found references to Bourne calling himself a superhero saving the world.
Iehab Hawatmeh dabbed his eyes several times as he sat through the four-hour proceeding with Croteau with three other family members.
Croteau later said they were not surprised by the material presented to the public. He said he believed the family has a strong wrongful death, negligence and civil rights case against police in federal court.
Attorneys representing Henderson have filed documents seeking the dismissal of the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified unspecified monetary damages. Court hearings have not been scheduled.
“As difficult as the situation was, my client believes the death of his boy wasn’t necessary,” Croteau said. “His family has suffered badly.”