Shoppers: Scott reached for something before being shot by police
A husband and wife testified Friday that they saw Erik Scott reach for something with his right arm before Las Vegas police fatally shot him July 10 outside the Costco store in Summerlin.
Annette Eatherton, who had been shopping with her husband before the store was evacuated, said she then heard an officer tell Scott, "Don't do that. Don't do that."
"And he did it, and they shot him," the woman testified during a coroner's inquest.
She said a gun then fell to the ground in front of Scott.
She and her husband, Wentworth, both said they heard police order Scott to get on the ground before he moved his right arm.
"I really think he was just exasperated with the whole thing and wanted to hand them the gun," Wentworth Eatherton said.
He said that is when Scott made his fatal mistake.
The witness said those with concealed weapons permits are taught to let police disarm them before presenting the permit.
"You do what they tell you," said Wentworth Eatherton, who explained that he has had a concealed weapons permit in the past.
Several Costco employees testified Friday that Scott was acting unusual during his time in the store that day.
Linda Bem, a service assistant in the membership department, said Scott and a woman came to her to sign up for a membership. Only members are allowed to shop at the warehouse store.
The employee said Scott seemed confused by her instructions and kept staring at the application form. She also noticed his knuckles were bleeding.
"I sensed something was terribly wrong," Bem told jurors.
Scott tried to fill out the form but his writing was illegible and he wrote information in the wrong spaces, she said.
Bem said he then asked his female companion, identified as Scott's girlfriend, Samantha Sterner, to help him fill out the form.
"Quite frankly, I was worried about him," Bem said.
Floor supervisor Jerome Dwight "J.D." Arcano said he later noticed Scott in a store aisle, where he was stuffing stainless-steel bottles into insulated lunch bags. Arcano asked loss-prevention supervisor Shai Lierley to keep an eye on him.
Scott appeared to be under the influence of something, Arcano testified.
Javier Torres, a manager at the store, said he saw Scott on his hands and knees in an aisle, where he was opening packages and stuffing merchandise into a backpack.
Scott then approached Torres and asked him a question about the merchandise, the manager said, and seemed irritated with the answer.
"He wasn't acting normal," Torres testified. "I personally thought he was on something.''
Jurors also heard a recording of an interview Sterner had with detectives on the afternoon of the shooting. Authorities said they tried to subpoena Sterner for the inquest, but could not find her. In the recording, Sterner spoke without emotion as she told Las Vegas police detectives that Scott was acting normal before the shooting and was surprised that Costco employees had called the police and were evacuating the store after seeing one of the two guns he legally carried.
Sterner said Scott was trying to disarm when the officer fired at him without hesitation.
"He was trying to put his weapon on the ground," Sterner told police.
The woman said she pleaded with the officer, whom she described as bald, not to shoot Scott.
"He carries a gun everywhere he goes," Sterner said. "This has never happened before."
Sterner said the officer who fired first at Scott "was too aggressive" and would have shot Scott even if he had complied with all directions.
"I just think that this officer was out of line," she told police.
Sterner, who described herself as a self-employed model and TV host, said she had known Scott for about three years. Responding to a detective's question, she told detectives that Scott was taking a blood pressure medication, then added that he also had taken a pain pill for injuries from a recent car accident.
Officer William Mosher, whose head is closely shaved, testified Thursday that he was the first officer to fire at Scott. Mosher completed his testimony Friday morning.
On Thursday, he said he did not think he could have done anything differently that afternoon. When asked on Friday whether he felt remorse, he replied, "Remorse? Absolutely."
Mosher was one of three Las Vegas police officers who shot Scott, a 38-year-old medical device salesman, as he left the store.
Lierley, a Costco supervisor, testified that he called 911 because Scott was behaving strangely and refused to leave after being told that guns were not allowed.
As the store was being evacuated, Mosher and the other officers waited outside for Scott and his girlfriend to come out. Mosher said he told Scott to turn around, and when he did Mosher saw the gun in his waistband.
"Show your hands. Get down on the ground. Get down on the ground," Mosher said he yelled at Scott, who seemed "a little out of it, like he's under the influence, possibly of narcotics."
"He says, quote-unquote, 'I have a gun,' " the officer testified.
Mosher said Scott pulled the gun from his waistband, raised it and pointed it toward him. Mosher fired twice "in quick succession," he said.
Scott stepped back but remained standing, prompting officers Joshua Stark and Thomas Mendiola to fire five more shots into Scott. He was struck a total of seven times and died shortly after.
Jurors on Thursday listened to a recording of the 911 call made by Lierley, in which police can be heard yelling commands. A transcript reads, "Put your hands where I can see them now. Drop it. Get on the ground. Get on the ground" before the sound of gunfire and screams.
Sterner was hysterical before and after the shooting, Mosher testified.
"She said, quote-unquote, 'He's in the Army. He just got back from Iraq. He's a Green Beret, and you just killed him,' " said Mosher, who faced an inquest in 2006 after he shot and killed a home-invasion suspect. A jury found his actions justified.
Scott graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1994 and served two years in the Army before being honorably discharged. He was never in Special Forces or Iraq.
Earlier Thursday, inquest jurors heard testimony from Lierley, who said he noticed Scott opening packages and mumbling to himself in the camping aisle. Though asked to stop, Scott continued trying to stuff water bottles into bags, even though they wouldn't fit. When told he could not have a gun in the store, Scott reacted in anger, Lierley said.
"Next thing you know, Mr. Scott ... gets up and says, 'I'm a Green Beret. You need to check the (expletive) Constitution.' And it was just real quick, real snapped. And at that point, it made me step back because he had a firearm," Lierley said.
While leaving the store, Scott appeared to be having trouble walking, and Sterner appeared to be helping him walk straight, Lierley said.
As they reached the exit, Lierley pointed Scott out to police. He said he watched as Scott pulled the gun from his waistband and raised it toward an officer, and distinctly heard someone order Scott to "drop the firearm."
He can be heard on the 911 tape telling the dispatcher, "He pulled a firearm" after the sounds of gunfire. Police recovered Scott's .45-caliber handgun, in its holster, from the ground near where he fell. Scott was carrying two guns that day, police have said.
Lierly's account matched that of another Costco worker, Colleen Kullberg, who testified Wednesday.
The medical examiner who autopsied Scott said Wednesday that the man had near-fatal levels of the painkiller morphine and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in his system when he died. A pain management doctor who treated Scott testified that he thought the man was addicted to the narcotic painkiller hydrocodone.
Jurors also have heard a detailed explanation of a computer hard drive disc failure that prevented a security camera at the store entrance from recording the shooting. The problem started two days before the shooting, and affected 17 of the store's cameras. The manufacturer of the system was able to recover some images from the disc, but nothing for two days before the shooting or five hours after it, when the system was rebooted.
The inquest is scheduled to continue through Saturday and resume Tuesday after a two-day break. About 50 witnesses are expected to testify before the seven-member jury is asked to rule whether the shooting was justifiable, excusable or criminal.
Talking to reporters Thursday evening, Scott family attorney Ross Goodman said he had a list of 20 to 25 eyewitnesses who said they never saw Scott with a gun.
However, he said he would not allow them to testify at the inquest and be "browbeat" by prosecutors with no opportunity for him to cross-examine them.
CARRI GEER THEVENOT and BRIAN HAYNES
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL