04/25/2011

Las Vegas officer in videotaped arrest suspended

Officer Derek Colling was suspended for arrest of Mitchell Crooks, who was videotaping burglary scene

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS - A Las Vegas police officer under investigation in the videotaped beating of a man has been suspended with pay pending completion of an internal investigation.

Officer Derek Colling was suspended April 1, two days after the Clark County district attorney's office dropped all charges against videographer Mitchell Crooks, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Crooks was standing in his driveway videotaping police March 20 as they investigated a burglary report across the street. When Crooks refused to stop recording, Colling allegedly attacked and beat him, with much of the altercation recorded by the camera.

Crooks said he initially told the officer he didn't live there and now regrets not telling Colling that he was in fact standing in his own driveway. After Crooks repeatedly ignored Colling's orders to turn off the camera, the officer is accused of grabbing him by the shoulder and throwing him down. The officer also is accused of kicking and punching Crooks, and breaking his nose.

In his arrest report, Colling wrote that Crooks grabbed his shoulders "and attempted to take me to the ground. I in turn took him to the ground."

Crooks was booked into jail for investigation of battery on a police officer and obstruction of justice.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Christopher Laurent said he later dismissed the charges because the police report was vague.

Colling has been involved in two fatal shootings in his more than five years as a Las Vegas police officer. County coroner's juries ruled that both shootings were justified.

Crooks, 36, gained attention in 2002 when he videotaped two Inglewood, Calif., police officers beating a 16-year-old boy.

Crooks first tried to sell that tape, then refused to give it to prosecutors. He then was jailed on old warrants from unrelated drunken driving and petty theft charges. Civil rights advocates branded it as retribution.

Since 2003, he has lived in Las Vegas, where he shoots video for nightclubs.

Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com

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