Las Vegas police have released the body cam footage of a gunfight between police and a suspect earlier this week.
Police say officers were checking on a stolen cellphone – the owner had traced it to a car in Las Vegas — when the suspect tried to flee and then opened fire, leading to a shootout that wounded an officer and left the gunman dead.
The video shows Officer Richard Nelson and his partner trying to restrain 25-year-old Miguel Salas inside a pickup truck. The suspect initially spoke with the officers, but then tried to start the truck at least twice.
Then Salas reaches down and pulls a gun.
“Officer Nelson grabbed Salas by his left arm and attempted to gain physical control of him,” Sheriff Tom Roberts, of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, told NBC News.
“As Officer Nelson held on to Salas’s arm, he reached over with his right hand, grabbed a handgun from near his left leg, and immediately began opening fire on both officers.”
Salas shot Nelson in the torso. Police said the bullet went through his abdomen and out his lower back.
Nelson then returned fire, hitting Salas in the head. When SWAT officers arrived on scene soon after, they found Salas dead.
“An area sergeant quickly arrived and made the decision to take Nelson to the hospital rather than wait for medical personnel to arrive. The decision by that sergeant was critical in helping to ensure that Officer Nelson survived this incident,” Roberts said.
Nelson was hospitalized, but in stable condition with a wound to the abdomen, police Capt. Kelly McMahill said earlier this week.
He was improving Wednesday and could be released within the next few days.
The officers were put on paid leave pending reviews of the shooting by police and prosecutors, but Roberts says they didn’t act quickly enough.
“In my opinion, they may not have escalated it enough. He was giving all the telltale signs and they probably should’ve pulled him out a little more aggressively earlier,” he told NBC.
It marked the 15th shooting involving Las Vegas officers so far this year, including seven since June 20. That is a sharp increase from the 10 shootings by police in all of 2016, including seven that were deadly.
*with files from the Associated Press