What Happened In Vegas

A law unto themselves: meet the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police department

What Happened In Vegas When TV editor Ramsey Denison was jailed for simply reporting police brutality on the Las Vegas strip, he was inspired to investigate the Las Vegas Police Department. His investigation would lead him right up to the biggest mass shooting in American history. In this damning exposé, he reveals that the police know more than they are letting on about what really happened at the Mandalay Bay Resort, where 59 people were killed. Uncovering a long legacy of cavalier methods and dire consequences, civilian fatalities, unconstitutional arrests and embellished crime reports, this doc paints an incriminating picture of a police department where the officers are above the law.

"A big hole has been ripped in my heart that will never be filled”. In July 2010, Bill Scott’s son Erik was shot and killed by LVMPD officer William Mosher outside a Costco in Las Vegas. Bill maintains that Mosher unlawfully killed his son and that the LVMPD covered up evidence that would incriminate their officer. To make matters worse, following his death, the Las Vegas police embarked on a campaign to smear Erik’s reputation, “My son was killed twice”, says Bill “he was murdered by William Mosher’s bullet and then his character was assassinated in front of everybody.”

The fallout from Erik Scott’s death provides a chilling insight into a culture of corruption, unaccountability and disinformation reaching right to the top of the LVMPD. Scott’s death had come at an inopportune moment for the then Sheriff Doug Gillespie, who was running for re-election. Gillespie needed to deflect negative press that might arise from Scott’s death and reframe the popular narrative of police misconduct. Far from being prosecuted, police authorities praised Mosher as a hero; Scott was portrayed by the LVMPD as a drug user; CCTV footage of the incident was conveniently corrupted; witnesses were discredited or ignored; evidence was allegedly tampered with.

Bill Scott suspects that the culture at LVMPD stems from the head of the organization: “the fish does rot from the head and Gillespie is about as rotten as they get.” Time and again, the top brass at LVMPD refuse to hold their officers accountable. Worse still, they appear to ignore the law themselves. The conduct of Sheriff Gillespie and then his successor Joe Lombardo, suggest a police hierarchy out of control, deaf to the interests and needs of its community. For Rhonda Gibson, whose husband Stanley was shot and killed by an LVMPD officer while unarmed, this reflects the self-serving logic by which the LVMPD is run "to serve and protect, you know - they serve and protect their own."

Behind the power of Gillespie and Lombardo, lurks the money of Sin City’s big businesses. Nowhere has this become more tragically clear than in the LVMPD’s handling of September 2017’s mass shooting, when Steven Paddock massacred 59 people from his 32nd floor suite of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Lombardo, it seems, knows more about the incident than he is letting on, but might he be orchestrating a cover up to protect the interests of the Mandalay Bay Hotel’s owners, MGM? “The Mandalay Bay and the casinos in Vegas give a lot of money to Sheriff Lombardo and because of that they are treated differently”, says attorney Steven Stubbs, “We can only work with the facts we are given, and guess whose the only person collecting facts right now: the LVMPD. The same entity that is being paid millions in campaign donations from these resort casinos. You don’t think they are protecting each other?”

What Happened in Vegas cuts to the dark heart of the LVMPD. It exposes the web of lies that permeates the organization and shows how its top members are wedded to the power and money of Vegas’s big businesses.
FULL SYNOPSIS

The Producers


RAMSEY DENISON Since beginning his career as an editor on the hit television show Criss Angel Mindfreak, Ramsey Denison has worked for CBS, MTV, Discovery, A&E, Disney, ID, Spike, Travel Channel, and Universal. Ramsey has worked on shows like the Emmy nominated Naked and Afraid, Catfish: Untold Stories, People Magazine Investigates, and Blood Relatives. When he is not editing or directing, Ramsey enjoys watching his beloved Seattle Seahawks play football and looking after his adorable but terribly behaved dog Roman.


RANDY WILLES Randy Wiles began his career as an editor on Miami Vice and has worked for industry heavyweights like Bruce Paltrow, Aaron Spelling, Tyler Perry and Don Bellisario. In a career spanning almost three decades, Randy has edited hit shows like Quantum Leap, Lois and Clark: The Adventures of Superman, JAG, and NCIS. In addition to editing primetime network shows for ABC, NBC, and CBS, Randy has worked for various studios including MGM, Lorimar, Sony, Universal, Warner Brothers, and Paramount. He is also a member of the Directors Guild of America, the Motion Pictures Editors Guild, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the American Cinema Editors.


DOUG BLUSH Award winning filmmaker Doug Blush has credits on more than 70 feature films, eight of which have played at the Sundance Film Festival. Doug edited the Academy Award winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom and the Academy Award nominated The Invisible War. He was also an editor and associate producer on The Hunting Ground, which screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Widely considered one of the top documentary editors in the business, Doug teaches courses at Young Arts and the University of Southern California and is a proud member of both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the American Cinema Editors.

Making The Film


When I drove into Vegas a couple years ago, making a documentary about police corruption was the furthest thing from my mind; I’d come to relax. I’d just finished editing a programme about cops tracking down bad guys - the notion that cops could be the bad guys was not something I’d spent much time thinking about. That all changed when my friend Rhett Nielson and I saw police officers torturing a stranger. I called 911 and reported the incident. A couple minutes later, I got beat up, arrested, and thrown in jail by those same cops. I reported officers Mark Belanger, Kyle Frett, and Jared Casper but LVMPD’s Internal Affairs department decided to do nothing about it. Officer Cole Erskine’s police report was full of fiction, written to justify the brutality. The club where my arrest occurred told me they had no footage because their cameras weren’t recording that night. Without video, it was three police officers’ words against mine and Rhett’s. In a town where you can get beaten up, arrested, and thrown in jail simply for making a phone call to report police brutality, I couldn’t help but wonder what else the LVMPD has done. I discovered that behind the glittering lights, the real Las Vegas is a rigged game of corrupt policing and institutional cover ups.

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