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Tipsheet

Body Cam Footage Showed Officer 'Freezing' During Las Vegas Massacre, Which Led To His Firing

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department fired officer Cordell Hendrex for failing to act during the Las Vegas massacre in October 2017, that left 58 dead and hundreds injured. 

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Body cam footage of what took place was released in June 2018. The video showed Hendrex and his trainee, Elif Varsin, along with three security guards from Mandalay Bay, getting off an elevator on the hotel's 31st floor. The footage, taken from Varsin's point of view, shows Hendrex waiting roughly 4.5 minutes while the gunman shot into the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. 

“I’m inside the Mandalay Bay on the 31st floor,” Hendrex said in the audio. “I can hear the automatic fire coming from one floor ahead, one floor above us.”

Later in the video an officer can be heard on the radio, desperately pleading for help while Hendrex, Varsin and the security guards remain still

“We’re taking gunfire,” an officer on the ground said. “It’s going right over our heads. We’re pinned down here with a bunch of civilians.”

“We can’t worry about victims,” a different officer said on the radio a few seconds later. “We need to stop the shooter before we have more victims. Does anyone have eyes on the shooter?”

The police union is fighting Hendrex's firing.

“We do not believe Cordell should have been terminated,” union president Steve Grammas told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. 

According to Grammas, an internal investigation began only after the body cam footage began making its way through various media outlets.

“After they knew, he continued to work for the department,” Grammas said. “In our opinion, until it came up in the news and they started getting some heat is when they made this decision.”

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In his internal report, Hendrex admitted to being scared during the shooting.

“I know I hesitated and I remember being terrified with fear and I think that I froze right there in the middle of the hall for how long I can’t say,” Hendrex wrote.

Officers Hendrex and Varsin happened to be at the Mandalay Bay security office when reports of shots fired came in over the radio. Because it was Varsin's first day on the job, Hendrex was teaching the trainee how to write trespassing tickets, ABC News reported. 

Investigations into other officers' actions are still ongoing.

“One of the things Sheriff (Joe) Lombardo has said from the beginning is that this is an ongoing investigation,” Las Vegas Metro Police Spokeswoman Carla Alston told the Review-Journal. “Part of that investigation is the evaluation of the performance, actions and conduct of every officer and civilian employee involved in the incident.”

The news of Hendrex's firing comes after Broward County Sheriff Scot Peterson was criminally charged for failing to act during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018.

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