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Henderson police covered up colleague’s DUI, internal probe claims



Henderson police officers conspired to cover up a car wreck involving an off-duty co-worker, but police Chief Hollie Chadwick ignored recommendations to fire them and reinstated them after a long, expensive leave, findings in city records claim.

The previous police administration, under Chief Thedrick Andres, recommended that Sgt. John Bellow, officer Marissa Myers and officer Katherine Cochran, who was suspected of driving intoxicated, be fired for lying and falsifying a police report, records in the monthslong internal investigation showed.

Instead, Chadwick, who previously served as Cochran’s captain in the problem-solving unit, reversed the termination recommendations, internal affairs records obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal show. She issued minor discipline in the case.

The revelation of reduced discipline in the DUI cover-up comes after a Review-Journal investigation exposed that Chadwick cleared another officer, Kevin LaPeer, who was accused of racism and untruthfulness.

Chadwick, who fled from a reporter who wanted to ask her about LaPeer, and other city officials declined to be interviewed about the DUI cover-up investigation.

Instead, Chadwick provided a statement that said she was addressing incomplete cases from the prior administration. She said several internal investigations at the department contained “multiple discrepancies that deviated from best practices” but did not provide specifics.

Michael Hemperly, a witness at the scene of the April 18, 2021, crash in the Inspirada neighborhood, said the incident was especially dangerous because many children play and walk in that area.

“We need our police officers,” he said. “But they should be disciplined just like anybody else in the private sector, especially when tax money is paying their salaries.”

The Henderson Police Department’s repeated problems raise concerns about its overall culture and discipline, according to one policing expert.

“It is abundantly clear to me that the honest officers of the Henderson Police Department are operating within a deeply entrenched culture of corruption,” said retired Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Stephen Downing, who reviewed the case at the Review-Journal’s request.


Last year, the Las Vegas Review-Journal received a tip about a Henderson police investigation into an alleged DUI cover-up involving one of their colleagues. The newspaper requested 911 calls and other documents from the event in April. A reporter was told the 911 calls were not retained. The crash report was released later that month.

In July, the Review-Journal requested the internal affairs case after receiving a tip that officer Katherine Cochran wasn’t charged with DUI and that she and three other officers were back at work. It took the city six months to provide the records associated with the case.

Those records included 911 calls, which the department initially said were no longer available. The city also released body camera footage, which the department initially denied due to “employee and civil litigations.”

The alleged DUI cover-up is only the latest problem that the Review-Journal uncovered at the Henderson Police Department. The newspaper has also reported the following stories:

— Henderson residents paid nearly $5 million in overtime to run the city’s understaffed jail during the past three years. Officers have also eschewed mandatory rest periods and worked two weeks or longer without a day off on dozens of occasions. Surveillance footage and internal reports obtained by the Review-Journal show that officers sometimes failed to heed department policies while guarding inmates at the Henderson Detention Center. The police union and city sued the newspaper in an attempt to get it to take down or modify video from the jail, but the city dropped out of the case and paid a settlement to the newspaper. The union’s case is ongoing.

— Henderson Police Chief Hollie Chadwick cleared the disciplinary record of a police detective accused of hurling a racial slur and urging the killing of Mexicans and Black Lives Matter protesters.

— Henderson officers with years of sustained citizen complaints, allegations of sexual misconduct or criminal arrests were allowed to work for years after the incidents and some were promoted.

— A sexual harassment investigation forced out former police Chief Patrick Moers, but city leaders concealed the reason for his ouster and misrepresented the nature of his separation. The decision to classify Moers’ departure as voluntary was costly to city taxpayers — it allowed him to cash out more than $163,000 worth of unused paid time off. If Moers had been fired for cause, he would have collected nothing.

— In 2010, then-Sgt. Brett Seekatz kicked a motorist suspected of DUI five times in the head. The driver was disoriented and suffering a diabetic episode and later sued police, costing taxpayers almost $300,000 in settlements. Seekatz has faced about 50 misconduct allegations stemming from 20 different incidents in his career. Investigators found he violated policies during 11 of those events, including when he threatened to shoot a suspect through his apartment door during a gun charge arrest in 2019. Despite his troubles, Seekatz was promoted in 2016 and his most severe punishment was a written reprimand, records show.

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