The confessed shooter who critically wounded a Las Vegas Metro police officer was sentenced Friday to at least 20 years in prison. The shooting took place in 2020 outside of Circus Circus Hotel & Casino and left the officer mostly paralyzed.
Las Vegas District Judge Carli Kierny gave Edgar Samaniego the maximum sentence. In November, he plead guilty to several charges for the June 1, 2020 wounding of Officer Shay Mikalonis.
Officer Mikalonis was only doing his job. There was no reason for this to happen,” Kierny stated before announcing her sentence. “And he didn’t deserve this.”
Prosecutors remained firm they would not offer a plea bargain to the 21-year-old for his plea. The sentence provides a range of between 20 and 50 years behind bars.
In November, he plead guilty to attempted murder with a deadly weapon, battery with a deadly weapon resulting in substantial bodily harm, three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, discharging a firearm where a person might be endangered, and two counts of discharging a firearm from or within a structure.
Since the shooting, Samaniego was held at the Clark County Detention Center. His prior bail was $1 million.
Mikalonis remains wheelchair-bound from the wounds. He is paralyzed from the neck down. Nurses need to provide him basic care round the clock.
The officer, along with several of his relatives, now essential for his care, attended the sentencing at the Regional Justice Center.
“Shay can’t talk, eat, swallow on his own, or breathe. He’s dependent on a ventilator. Without it, he would be dead,” Guy Mikalonis, the officer’s father, told the judge, KLAS, a local TV station, reported.
One shot changed the life of five people. Shay and his family got a life sentence with no parole,” Guy Mikalonis added.
The bullet went through Mikalonis’ spine and became lodged in his face, KVVU, another local TV station, reported. Doctors at Las Vegas’ University Medical Center were able to save his life despite a high risk of death. UMC surgeons removed a bullet from his body.
Then, he went to a specialized rehabilitation center in Colorado. Last year, he came back to Las Vegas.
The wound left Shay Mikalonis unable to speak long enough to address the judge. But he told his relatives he wanted to be in the courtroom when Samaniego was sentenced.
It was his decision to come. He’s been waiting for this for a long time,” Mikalonis’ stepfather, Patrick Neville, said to the media after the sentencing, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Mikalonis had been with the department for only four years when he was shot. Because of the injuries, he is no longer a police officer. But many officers appeared in court Friday to show their continuing support and friendship.
Samaniego Claims Drugs, Abuse Impacted Him
In an apparent effort to reduce the sentence, Samaniego read a statement to the judge in which he claimed he wanted it to be him, not Mikalonis, who was shot that night.
He attributed his violent actions to feelings of depression, as well as alcohol and drug abuse, KLAS said. His life as a child was abusive, he claimed. On Friday, Samaniego also claimed he did not remember the shooting. But soon after his apprehension, he told police he fired the weapon to scare away protestors, local media has reported based on an arrest report.
“There is never a day I do not think about how [Mikalonis] is doing,” Samaniego said in court, the Review-Journal reported. “I’m hoping to have the chance to tell him I am sorry for what he has to go through every day.”
No Intention to Wound Officer
Samaniego’s attorney, Garrett Ogata, who is a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer, argued that Samaniego did not intend to shoot Mikalonis. Samaniego was not wearing eyeglasses when shots were fired, the Review-Journal added.
The shooting took place as a Black Lives Matter protest was wrapping up that night. A melee then broke out. Several individuals were apprehended by officers.
The bullet struck Mikalonis while he was placing handcuffs on an unruly protestor. Samaniego fired several other shots that night, but no one else was wounded.
Samaniego did not take part in the demonstration. He was staying at the nearby Travelodge and fired the gun aiming toward the demonstration.
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