Las Vegas, NV — Before he was gunned down by an officer with the North Las Vegas Police Department, Darin Dyer, 38, served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was honorably discharged as a Marine Corps sergeant in 2010. He had no criminal record and on the night he was killed, he had committed no crime.
Dyer's tragic story began with a 911 call from a neighbor on the night of Sept. 24. North Las Vegas Police Sgt. Paul Sanderson answered the call and only moments after arriving, Sanderson would kill Dyer.
According to the caller — who likely now regrets dialing those three numbers — “an unknown man in his 20s was in his (Dyer's) backyard with a long metal pole,” and he “seemed to be drunk or on drugs.” But the man was not unknown — that man was Dyer, and he was in his own backyard.
“There’s a house here, and there was a party earlier, a large party, and now someone has a very large, hard implement, and they’re trying to break in through the back sliding glass window for the last, like, maybe 10 minutes, and I don’t know if he’s drunk or on drugs,” the caller can be heard saying on the 911 recording as reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I don’t even know if he belongs (inaudible).”
Police arrived several minutes later and Sanderson's body camera was rolling to record the situation unfolding. At first, the conversation was cordial.
“Police Department. Hi. How you doing?” Sanderson said.
“Yeah, I’m good. How are you?” Dyer responded.
“Good,” Sanderson said. “What’s up with the gun? Keep that where I can see it.”
Dyer had his legally owned AR-15, equipped with a two-point sling, in a muzzle-down position across his chest. His hands were not on the rifle. This is not a crime, especially in your own backyard.
When Dyer tried to walk back into his home, Sanderson told him that an officer was going to the front door too.
“I don’t give a f**k, dude,” Dyer said.
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“Alright! I just heard — we heard banging. We’re out here checking it out. You’re out here with your gun,” Sanderson said.
“So what! So what!” Dyer responded. “What are you going to do? What are you going to do?”
“Nothing,” Sanderson said.
Dyer then asked Sanderson if he was going to shoot him and moments later as Dyer turned around, Sanderson put 5 rounds in the ex-Marine. Dyer never pointed the gun at the officer.
Ashley Zimmerman, 36, is a friend of Dyer who says he never deserved to be killed that night.
“Regardless, he never threatened the officer’s life nor did he turn the gun on the officer to warrant having shot him, and I’m not sure one man deserves five shots,” Zimmerman told the Review-Journal.
“There is just so much to wonder,” Zimmerman said. “Darin wasn’t perfect, but the PD isn’t perfect here either.”
“It’s sad that it ended that way,” said neighbor Alana McAllister. “I don’t think he deserved to die in his backyard like that.”
This tragic incident illustrates the problem with the crap shoot that is dialing 911. Even the police department wondered why the 911 call was ever made.
“Why he thought that, why he didn’t recognize the guy who lived there, I can’t tell you,” North Las Vegas Police Department spokesman Sgt. Jeff Wall said about the 911 caller.