(LAS VEGAS) — The suspect accused of striking and killing two Nevada state troopers with his SUV appeared intoxicated at a Las Vegas casino and evaded the resort’s security to access his vehicle just before the deadly crash, prosecutors alleged in court Friday.
The incident occurred shortly before 3:30 a.m. local time on Thursday in Las Vegas. The officers were conducting a traffic stop on a motorist who appeared to be sleeping behind the wheel when a Chevrolet HHR collided with the troopers, police said. The driver then fled the scene, police said.
One officer was pronounced dead at the scene, and the other died after being transported to a local hospital, Las Vegas Deputy Chief Brandon Clarkson told reporters during a briefing on Thursday. The officers were identified as Sgt. Michael Abbate, a 10-year veteran of the Nevada Highway Patrol, and Trooper Alberto Felix, a U.S. Air Force veteran who joined the department in 2019.
The suspected vehicle was found Thursday morning unoccupied at an apartment complex near the scene of the collision, and a suspect was later taken into custody, Clarkson said.
Jemarcus Williams, 46, was booked into the Clark County Jail Thursday on two counts each of DUI resulting in death, reckless driving resulting in death and duty to stop at the scene of an accident involving death.
During his initial court appearance Friday morning, Williams appeared to be crying and looking down.
Prosecutors told the court that police were able to trace Williams’ behavior six hours prior to the crash. Williams had allegedly been drinking at the Palms Casino and appeared “highly intoxicated” in video footage, prosecutors said. He appeared to have trouble holding himself up and, at around 3 a.m., appeared to be lost, prosecutors said.
Around that time, Palms security escorted Williams out and advised that if he got into his vehicle they would call police, prosecutors said. Security watched as he walked toward the sidewalk and past his vehicle and believed he had left, prosecutors said. Though Williams allegedly hid behind a tree before driving off in his vehicle, prosecutors said. Williams allegedly hit the brake “slightly” in the collision but then continued driving, prosecutors said.
When Las Vegas officers tracked him down hours after the crash, Williams reportedly said, “I didn’t kill them, you should be figuring out who did,” before the officers even explained why they were there, prosecutors said. He then allegedly claimed his friend was driving the vehicle, before ultimately stating, “It was me, I f—– up, I was driving, I wrecked ’em, I wrecked ’em,” prosecutors said.
His vehicle had “extensive” damage, prosecutors said.
In asking for $1 million bail, the state noted that Williams was convicted in a 2007 DUI case in which an officer had to “swerve off of the road” to avoid being hit by the defendant before pulling him over. Prosecutors noted the prior conviction was not recent but said the “similarities are very poignant.”
Williams’ defense attorney argued for a maximum of $20,000 bond, saying he is a life-long resident of Las Vegas who has family and community support and has maintained stable employment as a bell captain and valet for 13 years.
The judge set his bail at $500,000. If posted, Williams will be on electronic monitoring and won’t be able to drive or possess or consume any alcohol. His next court appearance is Dec. 5.
Williams’ family members declined to comment following the hearing, telling Las Vegas ABC affiliate KTNV that they are requesting privacy at this time.
When asked for comment on the incident, the Palms Casino told KTNV: “This matter is an active criminal investigation. Please contact the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department for information.”
ABC News’ Luke Barr contributed to this report.
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