Las Vegas officer Cordell Hendrex, who had been with the department for 12 years, admitted he stood frozen in the Mandalay Bay hotel hallway for nearly five minutes while the attacker carried out the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. modern-day history, in Oct. 2017.
The moment was captured on body camera footage, and ultimately led to the 42-year-old’s dismissal on March 20, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department spokesman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Speaking to the outlet, Steve Grammas, a police union president, confirmed on the night of July 2 that the officer was fired for his actions while responding to the deadly attack.
Police spokesman Lawrence Hadfield said in a statement the decision was based on the “performance of his duties.”
Hendrex has decided to appeal the decision, reported The New York Times.
In a police report, he admitted he was “terrified with fear” while responding to the attack.
The footage, released by the department, shows a terrified Hendrex hesitating for almost five minutes in the hallway of the 31st floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. Meanwhile, mass shooter Stephen Paddock, who was one floor above, attacked the crowd gathered for the Route 91 Harvest music festival. Fifty-eight people were killed, and over 800 were left injured.
“I froze right there in the middle of the hall for how long I can’t say,” the officer said in the police report.
“I’m inside the Mandalay Bay on the 31st floor,” Hendrex said into his radio, cowering behind a wall as the attack was carried out. “I can hear the automatic fire coming from one floor ahead, one floor above us.”
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Hendrex, who was with a trainee officer and three security officers from the hotel, then moved to a stairway, which would have led them to the gunman’s floor—the 32nd floor. Footage shows the group remained there for at least 15 minutes, before the clip came to an end.
His dismissal came nearly a year-and-a-half after officials released the clip, and it is still uncertain whether other officers faced consequences for the way in which they responded to the attack, reported the Review-Journal.
Grammas admitted that Hendrex only faced termination after the released footage gathered media attention.
“After they knew, he continued to work for the department,” he told the Review-Journal. “In our opinion, until it came up in the news and they started getting some heat is when they made this decision.”
Grammas added: “Our board was on his side when looking at the totality of the event. He couldn’t have gone into that room with just himself and his trainee.”
Hendrex’s attorney, David Roger, who is representing him in arbitration, said he wasn’t required to enter the gunman’s hotel room, as per his Las Vegas department’s training, reported The New York Times.
Despite the department’s decision to terminate Hendrex’s employment, Grammas told the publication he had shown courage in the situation. “Let’s not forget, he was still on that 31st floor,” he said.
Officers Fired After Parkland Shooting Response
A number of sheriff’s deputies have been fired following their response to the Parkland mass shooting in February 2018, which claimed the lives of 17, and injured a further 17 people.
Following an internal investigation into the matter, the Broward County Sheriff announced last month the deputies gave an inadequate response to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, reported The New York Times.
“It became clear to me and our command staff that this was neglect of duty,” Sheriff Gregory Tony said. “And it was one of the most severe consequences, as we lost 17 people.”
Deputies Edward Eason, Josh Stambaugh, Sgt. Brian Miller, and Scott Israel were all fired for how they responded to the attack.
Last month, Deputy Scot Peterson, a resource officer for the school, was arrested and charged with seven counts of felony neglect of a child, for failing to protect the schoolchildren, prosecutors said. He is also charged culpable negligence and perjury.
Prosecutors said Peterson remained outside while the attacker killed six and injured four others, reported The New York Times.