Police Once Again Mistake Cell Phone for Gun – But This Time, They Open Fire


Las Vegas police responded to a call of a suicidal man who pulled out a cell phone and pointed it at them, perhaps to record them, prompting an officer to shoot at him.

The officer missed but the man fell to the ground anyway where police arrested him.

“The individual reached into his pocket, he pulled out a dark object, pointed it at the sergeant in a manner like he would be firing a pistol,” explained Deputy Chief Al Salinas of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in the above video.

The incident took place Sunday at 2 p.m., so darkness of the night did not contribute to the officer seeing the cell phone as a “dark object.”

The man, who has not been identified, will most likely be charged with assault with a deadly weapon as well as battery with a deadly weapon because prior to the shooting, he had been throwing landscaping rocks at the officers, according to Salinas.

There have been at  least five incidents this year where police have ordered citizens to put away their cell phones as they were recording because, they claimed, they could be guns disguised as phones.

But this is the first time an officer actually opened fire.


Las Vegas police patch

About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.

Check Also

Stephen Matakovich

Pittsburgh District Attorney to Refile Charges Against Acquitted Cop who Attacked Teen on Video

The Pittsburgh police officer who was acquitted this week on assault charges when a surveillance …

  • Scott

    Won’t be the last time I bet.

  • bzflagkilljoy

    This is not the same as the other incidents. In the other incidents, the officers clearly knew it was a camera and used the camera-gun argument to stop photography. This seems to be more overreacing to pulling something from the pocket. As for being a dark object, my phone has a black case. Still an overreaction on the officer’s part. They should be better trained on deescalation.

    • Me

      Overreacting to someone pulling something from their pocket during a police altercation??? Because criminals never pull guns on cops…

      • Ernie Menard

        Yes, over reacting. A cop shouldn’t pull the trigger unless he actually see’s a firearm, no exceptions.

  • tiny

    BZ… dont agree with you, this is in fact a warning to all of us. they dont give a shit, make a move they dont want you to make, they order you to stop or whatever, and in a blink of an eye, your dead! that SGT missed, he also needs more time on the gun range i would say. that “suspect” should be dead! i can see it now, they will make it a law, COPS may kill you after saying, “make my day”, or “do you feel lucky”?

    • Proud GrandPa

      I must disagree with your logic here. You say that officers don’t care. On the contrary there is more than ample evidence that LEOs do care about protecting and preserving innocent human life. This was not a question of the suspect’s making a non-threatening move they don’t want. Rather it is a question of the suspect’s making a threatening move.
      Your observation that this is a warning to us all is spot on. Let us not make threatening moves at police officers. I am sure we will get many more photos that way of our friends in blue.

      • Barking Dog

        Yeah, they care about their own life. They say so here in NYC too

      • nojack


      • bigpawn01

        Im a law biding citizen. And I still hate the police they are crooks and no good. I’d never help one if i saw him in danger. instead id light a smoke and with a grin on my face id watch and keep my mouth shut. All cop are nothing but oppressors. I stick with what ice tea says about the police.

    • Difdi

      It’s not unusual for even highly trained personnel to need 5-6 shots to score a solid hit with a handgun while under stress. The first hit often fails to stop an attacker, which is why you often see shooters emptying their magazines very rapidly. Firing a dozen times to stop each attacker is the norm for many cops, who don’t have more than the minimum range time. This is one reason why sidearms with 15+ magazine capacities are so popular.

      Every enemy being taken down every time by the first shot is an invention of Hollywood. If the police fired only one round, it was more likely an accidental discharge than a real attempt to kill.

      Of course, there shouldn’t be accidental discharges like that either. A private citizen who squeezes one off accidentally, even if no one is hit, is going to be in very deep trouble. Professionals ought to know hetter…and should be held to that same standard as everyone else when they screw up that way.

  • steveo

    Sounds like suicide by cop to me. Be good to see the dash cams. If you throw stuff at cops they can shoot you for that. I’m not sure without anymore information that the cell phone had anything to do with it, he could have been pulling a dill pickle out of his pocket.

  • barcroft

    LV Metro is scared of EVERYTHING! They shoot first and ask questions later. There is no penalty for doing so, either. It makes no difference if someone is armed with a basketball or nothing at all, shoot now!

  • ed baier

    Carlos, I agree this was NOT the same as the other documented situations you have posted in the past.
    This sounds like an attempt at “suicide by cop” by the person that pulled out the cell phone. Fortunately the officer missed and perhaps the person can get the mental health help he needs.
    There are several “dashcam” videos that have aired on many of those “Caught on Tape” TV shows over the years that have shown this exact scenario. The person(s) pulled out a cell phone and actually pointed it like a gun. They even get into a “shooting stance” while they do it. Some have been shot, others have not.
    Carlos, I’m surprised you posted this event on your blog site considering the lack of information available, that the person involved was allegedly “suicidal”, and allegedly “threw softball sizes rocks” at the police.
    Just because you wrote “perhaps to record them” doesn’t qualify this event to be posted on this type of blog site.
    More hard information and less speculation next time.
    Don’t worry, the July 4th holiday will bring a flurry of cell videos and events that will put PINAC back on topic till X-mas.
    Keep up the good work!

    • Freedom_Fighter_of_America

      Last I checked, Carlos is the creator of the site, not you. I don’t see an admin login for you, so I don’t think it’s you who gets to decide what qualifies for this site and what doesn’t.

      • ed baier

        Duhh, state the obvious! Yes its Carlos’s site. My point is that this specific blog doesn’t hold up to the high standards that Carlos has established over the years.

        • Fred

          I’d agree w/ Ed on both points:

          1 – This was not the same as other incidents.

          2 – Carlos needs to be a little slower on the trigger to cast incidents like this as part of the War on Photography.

          Not to jump his s*** again (I try to be constructive in my whining), but when trying to affect change, controlling the message is critical. Things like this end up muddying the water and diverting attention. Just look at this thread.

  • Art

    It goes to show you, why some people shouldn’t be carrying weapons, especially law enforcement. Many are not willing practice, practice, practice on the gun range. This would give them the split second timing needed to make a correct decision, weather or not to fire his gun. self-discipline is not a option!!! If I can do it, anyone else with half a brain can do it. Carrying is a big responsibility!

    • Difdi

      You are roughly 8 times more likely to be shot in error by a police officer than by an armed private citizen.

      The officer knows he has a shield against being sued, the private citizen does not, resulting in a much greater degree of caution. No one should be reckless in the use of firearms!

  • Proud GrandPa


    FYI, what do you suppose will be the reaction to your photography of these new cops enforcing security in the USA? Will the Spatznas be polite and respectful of human rights?

    Paul Joseph Watson
    July 1, 2013

    As part of a deal signed last week in Washington DC between the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry and FEMA, Russian officials will provide “security at mass events” in the United States, a scenario that won’t sit well with Americans wary of foreign assets operating on US soil.


  • pattianne pascual

    Thanks.great idea.Guess the bullets would go in the battery compartment? trigger would be the photo button?

  • Freedom_Fighter_of_America

    They knew dang well what it was, they attempted to kill the guy, failed and realized they better not try again. They don’t want cameras recording their actions, but that is too bad for them, it’s not their choice. It is not their job to infringe upon peoples rights. No matter how bad they want to, it’s not their job.

  • jimmarch

    This may be part of a different problem involving how cops use the sights on their handguns.

    They are taught to do “front sight focus” – they focus on the front sight which leaves both the rear sight >>and the target<< blurry. So once somebody "suddenly pulls something out" the morons can't see what it is. I think this had a lot to do with the Amadou Diallo shooting in NYC some years back when a guy who polled a wallet out was blown away with 41 rounds fired by multiple cops.

    The answer is "front sight focus". A friend of mine name of Tim Sheehan is a gunsmith in Arizona and came up with something called the "Hexsite" that allows target focus shooting. I use a prototype of one of a variant of it that he hasn't released yet. The other choice is a "red dot" type electronic sight which means adding glass, wires, laser and a battery which all add up to "less reliable", so the guys doing that will often use extra-tall normal sights that can co-witness through the glass – in other words, if there's an electronics failure fall back to conventional type sights.

  • nojack

    P I G S!!!