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Officer Involved in Costco Shooting Faces Felony Charge | Crime

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Officer Involved in Costco Shooting Faces Felony Charge

LAS VEGAS -- District Attorney David Roger says 23-year-old Thomas Mendiola is in a lot of trouble.

Last summer, Mendiola, a Metro Police officer, allegedly gave a .22 Ruger to his mechanic Robert Justice. Justice already had a criminal record in another state. On September 14, 2010, Justice sold the Ruger and a .357 handgun to an undercover police officer for $500.

According to the criminal complaint, Justice told Mendiola about his criminal convictions and Mendiola admitted to knowing about them. According to the complaint, Mendiola allegedly told Justice, "Dude, you're not supposed to have that, but you already know that." Investigators also say Mendiola stated the gun "was rusted, it had no sights. It didn't fire. Course, I never tried it. It just didn't look like it even fired to me at all."

If convicted, Mendiola could trade his badge for a prison ID.

"Officers should know the law, should know they can't give a convicted felon a firearm," Roger said. "I can't comment on the facts of the case, but the charge… it involves giving someone a firearm who legally cannot posses a firearm."

"It's disappointing anytime someone who's charged with upholding the law breaks it," Roger said. 

Both Mendiola and Justice have seen their names in the news before. Mendiola was in court last fall, when he testified in the Erik Scott coroner's inquest. Mendiola was one of several officers found justified for the shooting death of Scott at a Summerlin Costco last year.

"I don't think that his involvement in this case had any bearing on whether or not they were justified in shooting Erik Scott," Roger said.

As for Justice, he is also charged for conspiring with former Metro Officer William Webb to kill Webb's girlfriend Nancy Quon. Webb and Quon, a local attorney, allegedly hatched the scheme so Webb could collect the insurance money from her death. Police say Webb tried to get Justice to obtain drugs he could use to kill Quon. Undercover officers then set up a sting operation to catch and arrest Webb.

Quon is a possible target in an FBI probe into fraud involving Las Vegas homeowners associations. Justice is cooperating with police in that case. Justice and Webb are awaiting trial on counts of conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substance Act and trafficking in a controlled substance.

So far, there is no evidence indicating the cases against Webb and Mendiola are related.

If convicted, Officer Mendiola could spend 10 years in prison and/or pay a $10,000 fine. Metro is expected to conduct an internal investigation once the criminal proceedings against Mendiola are finished. Mendiola has been with Metro since March 2009.  He has been relieved of duty without pay. His court date has been set for February 24.