Commentary: Las Vegas Police Officer Cordell Hendrex's decision cost lives - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Commentary: Las Vegas Police Officer Cordell Hendrex’s decision cost lives

LAS VEGAS — The Baltimore Post-Examiner was the first to report that Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Officer Cordell Hendrex failed to act to confront gunman Stephen Paddock as he was firing down on helpless people at the Route 91 Music Festival on the night of October 1, 2017.

I will give my thoughts and my opinion on what I think of LVMPD Officer Cordell Hendrex and I do this not as an investigative journalist but as a former police officer.

I am disgusted by what I read in Hendrex’s officer’s report.  I take no pleasure in calling a police officer a coward, but like the saying goes, if the shoe fits, wear it.

Hendrex knew by his own admission that there was an active shooter incident ongoing at the concert venue.  He also stated in his report that he heard that police officers were taking fire and were pinned down.  When he arrived on the 31stfloor of the Mandalay Bay with his day-2 trainee and three armed Mandalay Bay security managers and heard Paddock’s gunfire emanating from the 32ndfloor, he told his group to retreat down the hall.

He wrote that he hesitated, froze in the hallway for how long he couldn’t say and was terrified with fear.  Then he broadcasted on his radio that he was on the 31stfloor and that the gunfire was coming from the floor above him.  He wrote that he once again hesitated as the gunfire continued and that he did not know what to do next.

Hendrex is a disgrace to the badge, period.

On the worst night in the history of Las Vegas, when a police officer was needed most to display some courage and intestinal fortitude, Hendrex failed the public.

There is no doubt that Hendrex heard the gunshots and failed to act to protect lives.  He is a coward.  No different than the Broward County Sheriff’s Office deputy who heard the gunshots in the school and failed to act to stop the gunman.  That deputy was branded a coward and rightfully so.

The story of Hendrex has not been told by any of the local Las Vegas media.

Another disgrace, but that’s not my problem.

My problem is that Hendrex is still an active duty police officer and field training officer, no less.  Eight months since the worst mass shooting in modern American history and this coward cop is still on the job.

I particularly don’t give a rat’s ass what his reason was for not engaging the shooter.

He didn’t even try to engage Paddock.

All I know is that while he was retreating in safety on the 31stfloor, people were being slaughtered across the street and he did nothing to stop, distract or disrupt Paddock’s firing.

While Hendrex was on the 31st floor in total safety from any gunfire, his fellow officers were risking their lives running through the gunfire to get into the Mandalay Bay to confront the gunman.

Enough on Hendrex; A coward cop who did not act to save lives.

The heroism of many other LVMPD police officers that night outshined the cowardice of one of their own.

Those police officers who without regard for their own safety, ran towards the Mandalay Bay as the gunfire was reigning down on them because they wanted to get inside to stop and eliminate the threat.

Officer R. Camacho wrote, “We began to run on foot from Reno/Giles and made our way to the Mandalay Bay as the shots were still being fired.”

Officer M. Featherstone, “As we were advancing forward we could see about halfway up on the far north side of Mandalay Bay a large amount of smoke coming from a window along with the sound of more shots being fired.”

Officer M. Johnson, “We immediately noted and knew it was coming from Mandalay Bay and not the Fairgrounds.  We knew that in order to protect and save lives we had to get to the shooter.”

Officer C. Del Villar wrote, “While attempting to move across the Blvd. towards Mandalay Bay another volley of shots began.”

There’s report after report of officer’s running through the gunfire to get into the Mandalay Bay.

You see, that’s what you do when you take the oath and pin that badge on your chest.  You run towards the danger, you don’t retreat when lives are at stake.  You know that the time may come when you must jeopardize your own life to save others. That’s why we become cops, we know the risk and we accept it.

I wonder how many lives could have been saved during those minutes that Hendrex was cowering in safety and failed to confront the threat while Paddock was cutting people down.

I don’t even want to think about it, it makes me sick.

So far, I have read over 1500 witness statements and officer’s reports that were released to the media.  I have to say it takes its toll on you emotionally when you read what people went through and what they witnessed that tragic night. It was nothing short of sheer terror and horror.

But through all that terror and horror, there were men and women with a star on their chest, those police officers from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department who did what they swore an oath to do; They faced the danger and stood tall that night. They did not cower.

The Hendrex story is not going to go away, most likely it will only get worse.

No matter what happens, do not make the mistake of blaming an entire police department for the cowardly act of just one police officer.

Civilians died, and others were wounded that night. Police officers were also wounded that night and the LVMPD lost one of their own.

The lives of 22,000 concert attendees changed forever on the night of October 1, 2017.  58 died, over 400 were hit by Paddock’s gunfire and hundreds of others suffered other injuries.  Those that survived along with the families of those who were killed will live forever with their physical and or emotional scars.


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About the author

Doug Poppa

Doug Poppa is a US Army Military Police Veteran, former law enforcement officer, criminal investigator and private sector security and investigations management professional with 40 years of experience. In 1986 Mr. Poppa was awarded “Criminal Investigator of the Year” by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia for his undercover work in narcotics enforcement. He was also re-assigned to the Northern Virginia Regional Narcotics Enforcement Task Force for 18 months. In 1991 and again in 1992 Mr. Poppa’s testimony under oath in court led to the discovery that exculpatory evidence was withheld from the defense by the prosecutor and sheriff’s office officials during the 1988 trial of a man accused of attempted murder of his wife that led to his conviction. As a result of his testimony the man was ordered released from prison, given a new trial in 1992 and found not guilty. Mr. Poppa became the subject of local and national news media attention as a result of his testimony which led to the demise of his 12-year police career. After losing his job, at the request of the FBI, Mr. Poppa infiltrated in an undercover capacity a group of men who were plotting the kidnapping of a Dupont Chemical fortune heir and his wife in 1992. His stories have been featured on Inside Edition, A Current Affair, and CBS News’ Street Stories with Ed Bradley. Contact the author.

One Comment

  1. Anthony Beltman says:

    I included internet link in my comment to your 6/12 Lombardo address – but apparently due to LINK, my comment never showed up. The link I included showed two bodycam captures of the stern verbal order given to those SWAT officers lined up in the staging area, which was to switch their bodycams off!! I wanted your opinion on that seemingly sensational release (release conveniently took place hours after Lombardo’s re-election, lol)


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