Frozen in fear as a gunman fired endless rounds of gunfire from a Las Vegas hotel room onto a crowd of concert goers, police officer Cordell Hendrex remained on the floor below, making no attempt to stop what turned out to be the nation’s deadliest mass shooting in 2017.
Hendrex was fired for his inaction in July 2019 but last week was reinstated, complete with more than a year’s worth of backpay.
Body camera from a rookie cop he was training that night shows Hendrex remained on the 31st floor for almost five minutes as Stephen Paddock fired hundreds of rounds from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Besides the rookie cop, three armed hotel security guards were behind Hendrex, following his commands to remain on the 31st floor.
In his report, Hendrex said he was “terrified with fear” which is what we often hear from cops who kill unarmed people to justify their actions. But in this case, the fear was real, understandably so considering their pistols would have been no match for the automatic gunfire from the floor above.
But real fear makes cops much less aggressive.
According to KLAS-TV:
Steve Grammas, Las Vegas Police Protective Association president, said Officer Cordell Hendrex won his case and will get back to work with Metro once he completes paperwork. He also noted Hendrex will not be disciplined and will receive back pay.
The initial firing came after police found Officer Hendrex did not engage when he was one floor beneath the Route 91 Harvest festival gunman on Oct. 1, 2017.
Metro released body camera footage that showed Hendrex, along with a trainee and a few armed hotel security guards, go to the 31st floor of Mandalay Bay. He held his position in the hallway one floor below Stephen Paddock. It appeared he hesitated for approximately five minutes as the shooter fired into a crowd of country music fans.
In 2019, Metro Undersheriff Kevin McMahill, said:
“We train our officers in a variety of different ways, and we believe we provided the training to all of our officers, and we see that played out in many other body cams. In this particular case, particularly with the responsibility of having a trainee along with him, we didn’t believe that he met the standards of conduct for the organization.”
Last year, Grammas commended Hendrex for his choice, saying, “He’s not a coward. He’s an officer; he’s a human being. That was a situation with a very, very violent encounter.” He noted Hendrex was making decisions on containment and what he needed to do on the floor there based on the knowledge the shooter was above him.
Hendrex admitted being “terrified with fear” in that moment in a written report. He did contain a stairwell that night.
The shooting took place October 1, 2017 during a country music concert. Paddock, who was a frequent guest at the hotel, killed 58 people and wounded more than 800 during his ten-minute shooting spree.
Last year, Broward County sheriff’s deputy Scot Peterson was charged with multiple felonies of child endangerment when he hid during the school shooting that left 17 students dead. He is also being sued by parents of the victims.
However, contrary to what many may believe, police are under no legal obligation to keep anybody safe, according to a 2005 Supreme Court ruling.
And they are also trained to place their own lives over the lives of citizens in the name of “officer safety” which may come as a shock to police supporters who believe cops willingly give their lives to citizens out of the goodness of their hero hearts. No, that is just marketing.
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