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Shooting investigation leads to deputy’s arrest

Updated March 3, 2020 - 9:32 pm

A Nye County Sheriff’s deputy was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and discharging a firearm where a person is endangered after shooting at a fleeing suspect in Pahrump. Neither the suspect, nor the deputy, were injured during the foot chase.

Sheriff’s Office Deputy James Ramos, 47, was named as the officer involved in the shooting near Walmart on Feb. 26 during a sheriff’s office press conference on Friday.

An “investigation into the shooting from Feb. 26, revealed that the shooting was not in accordance with Nye County Sheriff’s Office policy,” said Operations Sgt. Ann Horak in a video statement on Monday.

Prior to his arrest, Ramos was placed on administrative leave, pending an investigation.

Ramos, a deputy for the Nye County Sheriff’s Office for approximately four years and currently assigned to the field services patrol division, is also a member of the special weapons and tactics team.

Additional information

During a sheriff’s office press conference, Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly provided details on the incident, which occurred behind Walmart just before 3 a.m., on Feb. 26.

Responding deputies at the time were wearing body cameras, the sheriff said, while noting the shooting was non-fatal.

The dispatch, Wehrly said, began as a shoplifting call involving four individuals, as reported by Walmart asset protection employees.

“The officer-involved shooting was behind Walmart on Dahlia Street where one of the suspects was stopped after trying to flee on foot from sheriff’s deputies,” Wehrly said. ”The other deputy involved in this incident was Deputy Xavier Gideon, who has one year and six months of service, and is also currently assigned to the field services patrol division.”

The suspect

The suspect involved in the shooting was identified as Joseph Beltran, 24, of Las Vegas, who is one of four suspects arrested after allegedly attempting to steal merchandise from Walmart.

Beltran, according to the sheriff’s office, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit grand larceny, conspiracy to commit burglary, resisting public officer, obstructing a peace officer, participation in an organized retail theft, grand larceny and burglary, according to a sheriff’s office video statement.

He remains in custody on a $7,500 bond.

Additional suspects

One of the three additional suspects was identified as Larry Hermansen, 34, of Las Vegas, who was also allegedly in possession of heroin. Hermansen, who remains in custody on a $5,000 bond, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit grand larceny, conspiracy to commit burglary, possession of a controlled substance, trafficking a controlled substance, resisting a public officer, obstructing a peace officer, participation in an organized retail theft, grand larceny and burglary.

Stephen Cooke, 34, of Henderson, was identified as the alleged getaway driver by the sheriff’s office.

Cooke was arrested on suspicion of display of bogus vehicle plate/registration, proof of insurance required, owning or possessing a gun by a prohibited person, use or possession of drug paraphernalia and accessory to burglary.

He was released on his own recognizance on Feb. 27.

Sally Diaz, 29, of Las Vegas, was also identified as a suspect in the alleged theft of merchandise at Walmart.

Diaz was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit burglary, burglary, participation in an organized retail theft and grand larceny.

She too, was released on her own recognizance.

Wehrly spoke about the alleged events that led up to the officer-involved shooting during the press conference.

“Walmart asset protection employees called the Nye County Sheriff’s Office to report that there were four people, one female and three males, inside the store opening packages and concealing merchandise inside of suitcases,” Wehrly told the assembled press corps. “Deputies responded and met with asset protection employees inside the surveillance room and observed the suspects stealing merchandise from the store.”

Wehrly went on to say that Deputy Ramos and others observed the suspects leave the store—one of which who was allegedly Beltran, who allegedly exited the store from the rear automotive exit doors.

All the suspects, except Beltran, were located and detained in the parking lot by responding deputies.

“Observing that Beltran had left the store using a rear exit, Deputy Ramos drove his patrol vehicle to the rear of the store as Deputy Gideon pursued Beltran on foot behind Walmart, running south,” Wehrly said. “Deputy Ramos proceeded south on Dahlia Street behind Walmart in his patrol vehicle and confronted Beltran behind Walmart near a dumpster bin. Deputy Ramos ordered Beltran to stop at gunpoint. During that encounter, Deputy Ramos fired one round from his handgun at Beltran. Beltran was not struck by the gunfire and was uninjured.”

The round fired by Deputy Ramos’ duty-issued Glock-17 semi-automatic handgun, equipped with a tactical light, hit a cement block wall of the Walmart building, but did not penetrate the wall, according to the sheriff’s office.

As Deputy Ramos was taking Beltran into custody, Deputy Gideon assisted in the arrest, where Beltran was taken into custody without further incident.

Following a thorough search, no weapon was found on Beltran, however, a firearm was located inside one of the suspect’s vehicle.

Wehrly also provided body cam footage of the foot pursuit, which included the sound of gunfire from the deputy’s weapon.

It remains unclear whether the discharge of the weapon was intentional or accidental.

Taking questions

Following Wehrly’s narrative of the incident, she took questions from media representatives.

One question inquired whether it was department policy to shoot at a suspected shoplifter, who was running from deputies.

“It depends upon the circumstances,” she said. “That’s all I can say about that at this moment.”

While viewing the body cam footage it appeared that Beltran did not pose a threat to Ramos.

Regarding what type of merchandise the suspects were allegedly stealing, Wehrly replied, anything and everything.

“They had clothing, cameras and electronic equipment,” she said. “You name it, and they had it.”

Additionally, Wehrly said there are similar theft rings operating throughout Southern Nevada.

“They just travel from site to site, so they pick out something likely and they move in on it,” she said.

Deputy Ramos, according to Wehrly, will remain on administrative leave until the entire investigation is concluded.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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