May 07, 2009
Officer Down: Police Officer James Manor
Officer Down: Police Officer James Manor - [Las Vegas, Nevada]
Cause of Death: Vehicular assault
Officer James Manor was killed in a collision when a drunk driver turned in front of his patrol car. Officer Manor was responding to a domestic disturbance call when the other car turned in front of his patrol car on Flamingo Road.
Officer Manor had served with the agency for two years. He is survived by his child.
Nev. officer killed in violent car crash
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — In the last few moments of his young life, James Manor was barreling down Flamingo Road early Thursday, responding to a call on a 14-year-old girl being beaten by her father.
He passed New Forest Drive. Tenaya Way. His squad mate was in a marked patrol car behind him.
Then, as he was approaching Ravenwood Drive, a lifted red Chevrolet pickup turned left into the roadway. Manor braked, steering sharply to the right to get out of the way.
The left front of his car crunched into the right front of the truck and sent it rolling. Manor's car careened into a patch of desert on the side of the street. It caught on fire.
By the time emergency crews tore Manor out of his crumpled vehicle and took him to University Medical Center, he didn't have much time left. He died shortly after.
In the seconds after the 12:49 a.m. crash, a witness saw 45-year-old Calvin Darling maneuver himself out of his overturned pickup, grab a fire extinguisher from the truck bed and try to squelch the flames on Manor's car with dirt and the extinguisher.
Darling, an employee in the Bellagio's engineering department with no apparent criminal history, had been turning into his neighborhood, headed to the home he owned about three blocks away, where he lived with his girlfriend and her daughter.
About an hour after the accident -- after Darling had been arrested, accused of driving under the influence and failing to yield to an emergency vehicle -- officers made their way to the home of the 14-year-old girl who had made the domestic violence call Manor had been dispatched to investigate.
She was asleep. Her mother explained to officers that she had been having problems with her daughter -- that she was bipolar.
Her father wasn't home. No one was arrested or cited for a crime. It wasn't clear late Thursday whether the call was fraudulent or whether the girl was, indeed, beaten.
The death of an officer always reverberates inside a police department. But Manor's death extended well past the ranks of uniformed officers, where he hadn't even spent two years.
"I cried today," said Wayne Tanaka, who was principal of Clark High School when Manor graduated in 1999. "He was absolutely one of the finest students we ever had there."
The 28-year-old was a father of a young girl and a standout high school athlete who went on to play Division 1 college football. He and his girlfriend were watching over their next-door neighbor whose husband is deployed to Iraq.
"This shows you how quickly tragedy can strike," Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie said. "Many times, getting to the call is just as dangerous as handling the call."
Police said that based on investigators' interactions with Darling after the crash, he was suspected of being under the influence of alcohol. Blood test results are pending.
Darling's neighbor and best friend, Nick, who wouldn't give his last name, said his friend was a lifelong Las Vegan who was returning home from work at the time of the crash. He said Darling was a caring neighbor and devoted family man.
"There are three people in the world I'd take a bullet for, and Calvin is one of them," Nick said. "It's a dark day in Vegas. A cop died, and my friend may go to prison for something nobody really knows what happened."
Gillespie was emphatic during a Thursday morning news conference that the two officers had their lights and sirens on as they were making their way to the domestic violence call. But witnesses said they did not see or hear anything.
Jason Hines saw the accident while driving about 100 feet behind the patrol cars. He said Manor was driving at a high rate of speed without his lights and sirens on.
"He 100 percent did not have lights and sirens," Hines said. "You wouldn't turn left if you saw lights and sirens."
Tarin Marvel was in her backyard when the accident occurred and said she never saw lights or heard a screech of brakes nor police sirens -- just an explosion.
Marvel said her yard, which is perpendicular with Ravenwood Drive, is illuminated when patrol cars pass with flashing lights and blaring sirens.
"You hear it all, you see it all when they go by," Marvel said.
Tanaka spent much of his day Thursday calling former colleagues, old friends and others who knew "Jamie." Everybody remembered him.
"It just gave me goose bumps when I heard. It made me sick," said Jim Massey, his former football coach.
"He was a man among boys. A great kid. And I know that's probably overused because I've been in the business for a while," Massey said. "But you would be very hard pressed, with his family values -- and God bless his mom -- (to) speak negative about him."
Massey, who since has retired from coaching, recalled having to persuade Manor's mother to let him play football. Manor was already a standout basketball player and, at 6 feet tall and 190 pounds, a natural athlete.
"His mom ruled that family with an iron fist," he said, "and we didn't even think we could get him out because she would be afraid he would get hurt."
Massey won -- and so did the varsity football team. Manor, as quarterback, led a previously beleaguered team to a 9-2 record. The standout earned a scholarship to play football at several schools, eventually playing defensive back for Eastern Michigan University.
Tanaka and Massey believed that Manor's strong mother and family upbringing were crucial to his success.
"He was a soft-spoken, kind, wonderful young man," Tanaka said. "We all loved that guy."
Kelly Martinez lives next door to the home Manor shared with his girlfriend in a quiet North Las Vegas neighborhood. She described a nice young couple who watched over her and her two children after her husband was sent to Iraq last month.
She hadn't heard about Manor's death. Martinez covered her mouth with one hand.
"He was just about to propose to her."