July 9, 2018  (Web Review)

What Happened in Vegas

(2017) 102 min. DVD: $89: public libraries & high schools; $295: colleges & universities. DRA. The Video Project (www.videoproject.com). PPR. Closed captioned.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Filmmaker Ramsey Denison was an editor on a police-focused reality TV show when he witnessed law enforcement at its worst during a Las Vegas trip. Seeing police beat a suspect, he called 911 and wound up getting arrested himself and pummeled by local cops. This documentary offers an overview of several cases in which the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) is shown telling lies and worse when confronted with brutality and incompetence within their ranks. The most recent high-profile case involves the endlessly shifting stories surrounding the investigation of the October 2017 music festival mass shooting, with Sheriff Joe Lombardo changing the official account with each new press conference. Even more troubling are three cases in which the LVMPD is accused of killing innocent people, including a former West Point graduate whose death in a Costco parking lot was followed by attempts to plant phony evidence that justified his fatal shooting. Denison argues that the Las Vegas hospitality industry gives unquestioning support to the LVMPD out of fear that the image of a dangerous city would damage the tourist trade. For those who only think of Las Vegas in terms of glitzy and glamorous entertainment, this disturbing documentary takes a harsh look at a rarely-considered dark side of the neon playground. Presented in both its full-length version and a 54-minute abridged edition, extras include crime scene recreations and behind-the-scenes footage. Recommended. Aud: C, P. (P. Hall)