Las Vegas, Nevada – The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) and several officers are facing a wrongful death lawsuit after the shooting and killing of 19-year-old Isaiah Williams. The mother of the victim, Latia Alexander, filed the lawsuit in Federal Court, seeking at least $1 million in damages. The lawsuit alleges that the officers violated Williams’ constitutional rights and caused extreme emotional distress to his family.
The suit names LVMPD and SWAT-team officers Kerry Kubla, Brice Clements, Alex Gonzales, Russell Backman, James Rothenburg, James Bertuccini, and up to 20 additional department employees as defendants. According to the lawsuit, on January 10, 2022, the officers broke into the apartment where Williams was asleep on the sofa. Upon awakening, Williams allegedly fired shots at the officers, who then returned fire, striking Williams 17 times. The lawsuit claims that as Williams lay on the floor “bleeding to death” and “coughing up his own blood with his last breaths,” the officers tied his hands behind his back with zip ties without providing any emergency medical care.
The lawsuit argues that the officers failed to execute a search and seizure in a reasonable manner and violated the knock-and-announce rule. It states that their actions created an “explosively dangerous and completely unnecessary situation” that resulted in the death of an innocent young black man. The officers had been attempting to serve a search/arrest warrant for a third party connected to a previous homicide. However, the lawsuit contends that the officers lacked probable cause or reasonable suspicion that the suspect was actually present in the apartment.
The lawsuit further alleges that the SWAT team intentionally chose to execute the warrant at 5 a.m., knowing that the occupants of the apartment would likely be asleep and in darkness. The officers used a stun stick and a noise flash device to enter the apartment, causing confusion and impairing the occupants’ hearing. The suit argues that these actions prevented Williams from realizing that the individuals entering were law enforcement officers. Mistaking them for intruders, he grabbed a firearm for protection and fired at the officers, leading to their fatal response.
The officers discovered after the shooting that Williams was not the intended suspect and that the suspect was not present at the apartment. The lawsuit emphasizes that there was no evidence linking Williams to the suspect and that the suspect was not the renter of the apartment. The claim asserts that Williams’ death was a result of the defendants’ violation of his civil rights.
In response to the incident, the Clark County District Attorney’s Office declined to press charges against the officers involved. No formal determination about the manner or cause of Williams’ death was made after a fact-finding review.
The wrongful death lawsuit seeks compensatory damages for physical injury, emotional distress, wrongful death, and nominal damages, with each count alleging damages in excess of $1 million. Williams’ mother hopes that through this legal action, justice will be served and her son’s death will be recognized as a tragic violation of his constitutional rights.
Overall, the lawsuit argues that the officers’ actions during the execution of the warrant were unreasonable and resulted in the unnecessary loss of a young life.