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Eyewitnesses May be Unreliable in Costco Shooting | Crime

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Eyewitnesses May be Unreliable in Costco Shooting

LAS VEGAS -- As the investigation continues into the Costco officer involved shooting that killed Erik Scott, a number of witness statements conflict with those reported by Las Vegas police.

Witness statements are valuable to police, but they also have drawbacks. A local defense attorney says in scenes like this, there's only one real eyewitness who will tell the real truth: cameras.

Before 39-year-old Scott was shot and killed by three officers Saturday afternoon, did he pull out a gun? Did officers give Scott enough time to comply before shooting? Metro says yes, but a number of witness statements are suggesting something else happened.

"I'm not surprised that there's a lot of varying accounts of what happened," said attorney Joel Mann.

Mann says in situations where emotions are high and adrenaline is running, our memories aren't the most reliable.

"I think what society as a whole believes is that our memory is like a video tape, where we can rewind it and show the same thing over again, which is just not true," he said.

Complicating matters even more, Mann says witness statements can often be influenced by environment or by even other witnesses at the same scene, which could make it tough to find the truth.

Metro says during scenes like the Costco shooting, witnesses are separated and interviewed individually by homicide detectives.

In the end, Mann says, there can only be one true eyewitness. "If there are things like surveillance tapes or other objective recording devices that can't be influenced by memory or perception, then we'll probably have a better more accurate depiction of what happened," he said. "If it's based solely on eyewitnesses, we will never really know for certain what happened."

There are surveillance cameras inside of the store, but during a tour of the parking lot none were seen outside, which could be an issue since the shooting happened outside near the entrance.

Police have not released the surveillance video or 911 calls related to the incident.