Prosecutor: Charges weren't ready in casino crash
Sep. 19, 2014
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Drug tests weren't back yet, and criminal charges weren't ready to be filed against a man who got out of jail and committed suicide after he was accused of crashing his vehicle through casino doors at the Stratosphere on the Las Vegas Strip, District Attorney Steve Wolfson said Friday.
Ryan C. Brown, 40, was found hanging Tuesday in a room at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, a day after a judge ordered him freed without restrictions and set an Oct. 15 date for charges to be filed. The Clark County coroner ruled Brown's death a suicide.
Brown declared that and he wanted to jump from the Stratosphere tower before he was held for five days on suspicion of felony cocaine possession and misdemeanor driving under the influence and reckless driving charges, police said.
A public defender raised questions Thursday about why charges hadn't been filed and whether Brown had been properly screened for mental illness.
Wolfson said prosecutors could have filed the two misdemeanor charges separately in a lower court, but they wanted to keep the case together "in order to be efficient to the court and fair to the defendant."
"We didn't have the evidence to charge him ... because of the need to wait for the toxicology report on the drug charge," Wolfson said.
It was up to the Clark County jail to screen Brown for mental illness and suicidal tendencies when he was arrested, Wolfson said.
Mental illness is not itself a reason to hold a person in jail, said Officer Larry Hadfield, a Las Vegas police spokesman. Hadfield added that he had no information about the Brown case.
No one was hurt in the crash, but investigators said it appeared to have been a deliberate act.
Police reported finding more than 1 gram of crack in the vehicle ashtray after it came to a stop near the bell desk.
Brown admitted using drugs for six days and smoking crack cocaine two hours before the crash, officers said.