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Man pleads guilty in shooting that paralyzed Vegas officer

November 10, 2021 GMT
FILE - Edgar Samaniego, charged in the shooting of Shay Mikalonis, appears at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas on June 3, 2020. Samaniego, 21, pleaded guilty to all charges and faces decades in prison for shooting and critically wounding Las Vegas police Officer Shay Mikalonis during a racial justice protest on the Las Vegas Strip in June 2020, a prosecutor said Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, File)
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FILE - Edgar Samaniego, charged in the shooting of Shay Mikalonis, appears at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas on June 3, 2020. Samaniego, 21, pleaded guilty to all charges and faces decades in prison for shooting and critically wounding Las Vegas police Officer Shay Mikalonis during a racial justice protest on the Las Vegas Strip in June 2020, a prosecutor said Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, File)
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FILE - Edgar Samaniego, charged in the shooting of Shay Mikalonis, appears at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas on June 3, 2020. Samaniego, 21, pleaded guilty to all charges and faces decades in prison for shooting and critically wounding Las Vegas police Officer Shay Mikalonis during a racial justice protest on the Las Vegas Strip in June 2020, a prosecutor said Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, File)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A 21-year-old defendant pleaded guilty to all charges and faces decades in prison for shooting and critically wounding a police officer during a racial justice protest on the Las Vegas Strip in June 2020, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Edgar Samaniego admitted in court Tuesday he shot Las Vegas police Officer Shay Mikalonis, who was paralyzed from the neck down and now breathes with the help of a ventilator.

Samaniego wasn’t offered a plea deal but avoided trial with his guilty plea to attempted murder, battery and assault — all with a deadly weapon — and illegally discharging a firearm. He remains jailed on $1 million bail pending sentencing March 4.

Judge Carli Kierny could sentence Samaniego to 27 to 68 years in state prison, prosecutor Giancarlo Pesci said.

Samaniego’s attorney, Garrett Ogata, was in court Wednesday and unavailable for immediate comment.

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Samaniego was not offered a deal to plead guilty, Pesci said. His trial had been set to start later this month in Clark County District Court.

Witnesses said Samaniego fired a handgun from a motel parking lot toward a demonstration that was one of hundreds around the U.S. calling for racial justice following the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

Mikalonis was handcuffing a person near the Circus Circus hotel-casino when a bullet struck him in the spine and lodged in his face. He had been a police officer for four years.

The same night Mikalonis was wounded, Las Vegas police shot and killed a man they said was armed with several guns and refused orders to leave an area near federal courthouses.

Investigators determined that Samaniego had not been participating in protests, but a judge said last June he was seen on police video firing a gun toward police. Pesci said at the time that police also found a bullet mark at the casino and two empty bullet casings on a balcony of a motel where Samaniego was arrested.

The prosecutor said those casings, and a third found at the shooting scene, matched a handgun found in the room where police found Samaniego and his girlfriend.