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Midnight Mania! Frank Mir testifies on behalf of officer charged in chokehold death

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MMA: Bellator 198-Emelianeko vs Mir Dave Mandel-USA TODAY Sports

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Frank Mir gave a testimony before a grand jury on behalf of former Las Vegas Metro Police Department officer Kenneth Lopera, who has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for the death of Tashii Farmer, also known as Tashii Brown. Lopera’s police union does not believe the chokehold Lopera applied was responsible for Farmer’s death, and former UFC heavyweight champion and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Frank Mir was brought in to review footage and testify as such. The union believes he died of an enlarged heart, drugs in his system and the stress of his struggle with Lopera.

Mir’s testimony is secret, but evidently he saw it in favor of the police officer. Via

“When he did that one of his first reactions to me was, Steve there is no way this guy killed the suspect involved. There’s no way.” Detective Steve Grammas with the Las Vegas Police Protective Association commented on Mir’s reaction.

The hold Lopera used on Farmer was classified as a low-level use of force at the time, a classification that has since been moved up to an intermediate level due to Farmer’s death. Whether Lopera used the chokehold correctly is in question. Police also say he violated several department policies when he chased, used a stun gun, and applied the chokehold on Farmer. The autopsy report indicated asphyxia as the cause of death, but mentioned other significant conditions.

At the time the Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg stated: “The autopsy determined the cause of death to be asphyxia due to police restraint procedures and other significant conditions included methamphetamine intoxication and cardiomegaly. The manner of death is ruled homicide.”

Each case must be taken individually, but it is worth noting the broader context. Police departments across the country have been increasingly under fire for resorting quickly to forceful methods to subdue people, practices that, in the mind of former CIA operative turned beat cop Patrick Skinner, results in unnecessary escalation of situations. As he explained in this excellent New Yorker piece (which you should absolutely read):

“This is how situations go so, so badly—yet justifiably, legally,” Skinner said. Police officers often encounter people during the worst moments of their lives, and Skinner believes that his role is partly to resolve trouble and partly to prevent people from crossing the line from what he calls “near-crime” into “actual crime.” The goal, he said, is “to slow things down, using the power of human interaction more than the power of the state.”

“You sometimes hear cops talk about people in the community as ‘civilians,’ but that’s bullshit,” he said. “We’re not the military. The people we’re policing are our neighbors. This is not semantics—if you say it enough, it becomes a mind-set.”

Police and MMA typically have a close relationship, with MMA fighters frequently teaching officers the finer points of combat, or even moving from careers in law enforcement to the Octagon (e.g. Forrest Griffin) or vice versa (e.g. Tim Sylvia).


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