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Metro’s Worse Day Since Losing Sgt Prendes

Posted by Michael Zahara on Feb 25, 2014

<–Its anniversary passed Friday without much more than the perfunctory media looking back on their own coverage and then a briefing on current status and that was it.

Some, perhaps in acknowledgement that they succumbed to sensationalizing their coverage last year, were more subdued a year later. Thinking back myself, if only for a few circumstances being different, Friday’s anniversary review is how the original incident should have been handled by our local media and the national media; just simple statements of facts and current status given and onto the next story.

It didn’t pan out that way and our city and its police department took the hit assisted by our sheriff who should have never lent the stature of his office to this crime’s perpetrators.

I wrote this piece that day and did the minor rewrite yesterday because I wanted to assess a few things and let my emotions calm down and my thoughts be clearer and more focused because on Thursday February 21, 2013, I was awake—my body clock awakening me about 4:15-4:30 AM for years and not owning an alarm clock for many years— beginning my day and I remained to work at home instead because the early morning hours of that day, soon began to become an indictment of the LVMPD and its handling of a newsworthy story of the pimp shootout and the media who followed its lead and then went off on its own tangents and Metro followed the media for a time too; Metro had by then completely lost control over the post-incident and how it was being reported very early on and never regained it back and seemed blissfully unaware that this had occurred even as one of the most famous streets in the world remain closed for the vast majority of the 12-14 hours reported and fed to the cable giants—itself exceedingly long and beyond the norm of even the most complex multi-vehicle crashes–the investigation is said to have taken to complete.

I don’t know if it was closer to 12 or closer to the 14 hours I recall, they aren’t talking about it now and weren’t then either.

Much at the onset was completely out of Metro’s control as this shootout between notorious pimps well known to Metro’s Vice and other units too, occurred at about 4:15AM our time which couldn’t have been worse timing because with nothing much else going on, the Eastern media at 7:15AM prime time morning drive-time immediately picked up the story and the cable giants did too the flaming wreckage they were showing but not yet knowing contained people burning alive and to death, and even after learning their remains were still inside, the video coverage continued on all day long and into the early evening hours.

<–At one point further in the day, I actually felt sorry for Sheriff Gillespie asking aloud to no one but the dog ‘Who the f*ck is telling him to say that?’, in response to yet another TV statement of confusion that was not only superfluous and unnecessary but was another log on the fire, and another reason for the national cable giants to remain paying their local camera contractors to keep the video rolling and sending it to them!

Our local media wasn’t much better and as they worked their Metro contacts and began a steady stream of misinformation that kept escalating the story’s significance and not with facts, but with speculation and conjecture maybe from lower ranking officers, and not there on the scene persons never identified, culminating with the first catastrophic misinformation IED declaring one of the pimps who was one of the persons burning to death before our eyes on live TV—being some sort of civic treasure, a scion of the music and club scene, and an innocent victim based apparently only on a conversation some unidentified person had had with a relative of his who phoned in!

This went live, then viral on the net, and everyone picked it and ran with it too, but the narrative was false and filled with lies.

Our culture’s insatiable need for instant everything preventing anyone from doing any fact checking at all. Because one ran with it, gave the others permission to run too and none of them apologized for this monster feeding frenzy of falsehoods, not the least being Metro who lead and followed on this same false narrative, they finally sheepishly back-tracked and no one was fired for it at Metro either, our Sheriff looking both foolish and a like know-nothing asshole to millions tuning in nationwide on cable and live in airports all around the world too, as well as to viewers of the local affiliates here at home.

Kenneth Wayne Cherry Jr or Kenny Klutch was the guy they were all glorifying and mourning, enshrining him as an innocent until finally getting the facts that he was a brutal, violent, pimp operating freely on the Las Vegas Strip to a level of success those women he beat and pimped and whose toil bought him the Maserati he was burning to death in and giving the day at least a measure of street justice having deservedly come to him, yet CBS News still refers to him as an ‘aspiring rapper’ instead of the vicious predatory pimp that he was on one Google entry it could have removed but did not:


His assailant Ammar Harris and him both enjoying themselves separately but both completely unimpeded and unmolested by Metro Vice and hotel security at the Aria, part of CityCenter and begging the question of both Metro Vice and MGM Resorts’ Security what these men were doing there and who allowed them to remain on this prestigious property, and when did the Aria and CityCenter become the Terrible’s Hotel and Casino of the Strip allowing itself to be the hangout home of notorious pimps?

Pimps hang out at Resorts having financial problems knowing the money they drop is more appreciated; apparently Vice Lt Karen Hughes wasn’t aware of this and to date, has never created a serious, viable plan of action to target pimps as the logical mission and primary focus of her Unit and to make life hell for them here, nor has she done anything to lobby changing existing laws that aren’t near tough enough being Class D with the rare convicted pimp enjoying our Conservation Camps instead of hard lockdown in prison because they can claim non-violent behavior because these laws haven’t been changed in decades when pimping has changed and by definition requires violence or its threatened use to be successful.

<–Metro’s Vice Lt Karen Hughes (seen here swinging during a recent failed Vice sting) had nothing to say about why two pimps were hanging out at a high-end Strip resort because no one asked her!

Hughes is coming up on 8 years and nearing record time being the Lt there and with her poor record and all the bullshit she pulls on other units on the Strip, I hope the new sheriff reassigns her to get some new blood in there or better yet, that she retires.

She also has no credible, consistent effort targeting pimps who like these two, felt entirely comfortable being at the Aria–Apparently, the new Terrible’s of the Strip–knowing her Unit let’s them run their shit here unimpeded and won’t bother them!

But by the fact that everyone in the world believes that prostitution is legal here, it was our only bit of luck that day that no one in the media here or anywhere else posed these question to anyone. They believed that this is our normal here and didn’t bother to query any of that aspect of this story.

Metro is known nationally as the best reactive police force in America, that’s a dig not a compliment from their colleagues in other cities, but contains enough elements of truth to live on. Accident Investigations is positively gruesome work and Metro’s unheralded team earns critical acclaim in this very tough part of policing, but they contributed to the day’s failures too. Other Units were involved too from Gang Crimes to the FBI who took the lead on the manhunt for Ammar Harris and got him; it was a big response, but it appears that no one was assigned the role of ‘Expeditor’ because it doesn’t exist yet and perhaps should be considered because had a person of rank and carrying the Sheriff’s direct authority to act on his behalf like an Executive Officer Lieutenant or higher, acting as an Incident Expeditor Lt perhaps some of what was extending the Strip being closed could have been concluded.  I couldn’t recall a time in my career that even the most horrific of multi-vehicle truck accidents having taken more than 5-6 hours to completely clear.

It’s remaining closed for more than half a day afterward is the sole reason the story became as big as it did remaining on the national cable ½ hour rotation until it reopened, and no one inside of Metro had any inkling that this was the reason though the Resorts and even cops on the scene were frustrated by it too.

Inertia and apparently no one charged solely with coordinating everyone there and their respective progress to any discernible degree, though individual units were performing their tasks very well, no one was coordinating what included the activities of officers from 2 of 3 Metro Divisions, an enormous undertaking under the best circumstances. Captains and Deputy Chiefs as well as the Assistant Sheriffs all performed well but apparently no one was asking Accident Investigations why it was taking so long to reopen the Strip and I think that they reported at the time to still another Assistant Sheriff who may not have been aware of this being an issue.

Many began to think Douglas was milking it too to make him look good heading into re-election, but he looked like a very confused dufus and not a leader and if even in the beginning that’s the bump he hoped to get and he had Kent Oram on the phone shouting directions to him, by 11AM, 7+ hours post-incident, that evaporated with no one assisting him with Information Coordination apparent to anyone—he appeared as if he were going it alone to everyone too and getting ad hoc briefs from senior officers as the day went on.

The day we lost Sgt Prendes came into my mind about 11AM remembering that day in great detail and how the oratory of then Assistant Sheriff Rod Jett delivering a briefing to the department and to viewers in extraordinary fashion leaving me to believe that he not only had read the copy before hand, but that he had written it himself too. It was perfect, flawless, and a career day, and his best performance as an officer. He had calmed the department down returning them back to their duties in minutes by strong, stern, almost fatherly command and he calmed 2 million people who reacted just as emotionally as our officers were as we were watching them gathering in great numbers at the scene.

There was no Rod Jett-type officer stepping up last February on the Strip including US Dixon and I couldn’t help but to think that had Jett still been the US, things would have played much differently based on his strong command and control as demonstrated 7 years ago.

<–The resulting coronation of Ammar Harris as celebrity pimp icon has already made him the King of Ely where he will go when convicted and die by injection or fellow inmate probably still having that punk-assed pimp face on telling us how good he’s got it!

Kenny Klutch, no one gives a shit about, he’s dead and of no value and isn’t even looked up to like the shorties and little gang-bangers in Los Angeles and here in Vegas look up to Ammar Harris who gets a good share of females writing and placing money on his books at CCDC too. The gang guys coming up have another role model they can look-up to because he is royalty now in that world gaining the acclaim and notoriety these men live and kill to achieve this folk status that is very real and which Metro assisted in giving to him by the ineptitude of its sheriff who chose to ‘butch it up’ for his re-election and ramp up the rhetoric and proclamations he’s never been good at doing, instead of delegating to someone of lower rank to comment, like a person who just graduated the Academy would have been to better illustrate ours and his disdain for such criminals.

This was a major incident but the status and stature of the Office of Sheriff should have never dirtied its hands with this human vermin and by doing so, launched him into gang-banger supreme stature, status, and universal respect he could have never achieved had Sheriff Gillespie not failed Basic Sheriff-ing 101 on the morning of February 21, 2013.

That the sheriff’s advisers and protectors allowed him to continue his televised involvement after his first appearance failed calls into question their value to him and if there really is anyone there who can take him aside and shut the door and say to him, ‘what the f*ck are you doing here glorifying a g*ddamn pimp with your presence? Get outta here now and go back to the office and wait until we’re all done and gone here if you still gotta say something…’

The new sheriff better have persons in his inner-orbit not afraid to be that candid with him. Protectors are useless to you unless they can talk to you just like that and Dougie’s proved their uselessness to him that morning further explaining how we got to the place we’re at today at the LVMPD.

As the day concluded it became the department’s worse day since losing Sgt Prendes and unfortunately too few realizing the damage done and those that did, shaking their heads for their efforts keeping tourists safe down there having gotten that much harder for them for Metro having made two pimps national stars that day.

Coming soon: Why the new sheriff should establish The Office of Media, Government, & Information Services by consolidating, restructuring, and redirecting current efforts to a modern more flexible workable multi-use platform and how its creation is a critical necessity that should be a top priority for the new sheriff!

Mike Zahara Siganture

Michael Zahara