Las Vegas officer was fired after police shooting review, union says

(Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye

Union representatives are pushing for the reinstatement of a Metropolitan Police Department officer who was fired last year after shooting a man in the head.

According to an article in the most recent issue of Vegas Beat, the Las Vegas Police Protective Association magazine, officer Vidal Contreras was fired from Metro after a “contentious” Critical Incident Review Team interview related to the shooting of a suicidal man on March 1, 2021.

The Critical Incident Review Team is composed of civilians and officers who investigate police shootings to determine if tactics should be changed and if the officers involved acted within protocol. The team’s members are voting members of the Use of Force Review Board.

Metro said at a March 2021 briefing that Seth Greenstone was bleeding from his neck and hands when he approached Contreras with a box cutter. Contreras shot twice, striking Greenstone.

Police said at the time that Greenstone was in critical condition, but civil court filings from his mother, who has taken over as his guardian, indicate that Greenstone was shot in the head and can no longer speak or comprehend what is said to him.

Contreras was placed on routine administrative leave, and Metro confirmed on Wednesday that he was separated from the department in September.

According to the Vegas Beat article by officer Greg Stinnett, Contreras was fired after the Use of Force Review Board voted for “administrative disapproval,” a finding that means the use of force violated department policy.

An assistant sheriff then recommended termination for “conduct unbecoming an employee,” defined as “any act or omission of such an egregious nature that the employee is rendered ineffective in his position and/or the act or omission would tend to bring the Department into public discredit.”

According to Stinnett, Contreras was a Marine who served in Iraq and Kuwait before being hired by Metro in 2017. He was assigned to the northeast area command, where he was raised, at the time of the shooting.

“He and his partner saved the life of a 2-year-old who had drowned in a backyard pool,” Stinnett wrote. “Vidal and his partner literally breathed life back into a dying human being as they were the first to arrive on that nightmare of a call for service. Vidal was described by one of his supervisors as someone who was always willing to learn, who was a great officer and had no discipline.”

Union President Steve Grammas said the decision to fire Contreras came from a 4-3 vote, with three civilians and a deputy chief supporting the termination. One of the officers who voted against the termination was Contreras’ captain.

“The LVPPA has been and continues to be confused as to why Officer Contreras was recommended for termination,” Grammas wrote in a message to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Thursday. “We have had use of force boards where the decision was a unanimous 7-0 voting for administrative disapproval and those officers are still on our agency.”

Union lawyer David Roger said he plans to sue Metro in the case by the end of May.

“Officer Contreras deserves to be an officer and our community should demand his re-instatement,” Grammas wrote.

Greenstone, meanwhile, has been charged with assault on a protected person and resisting a public officer, but the case has been delayed 11 times due to his health condition.

The Clark County district attorney’s office said in an email this week that it does not plan to file charges against Contreras for his actions in the shooting, and because the shooting was not fatal, it will not hold a fact-finding review or produce a report with an opinion.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.