Review

Documentary 'What Happened in Vegas' blows the whistle on local police

A filmmaker’s brutal encounter with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department compelled him to make “What Happened in Vegas,” a documentary profile that blows the whistle on a disturbing pattern of excessive force and corruption within its ranks.

Ramsey Denison, a TV editor by trade, was vacationing in Las Vegas several years ago when he placed a 911 call after witnessing what he felt was police brutality against a handcuffed man, only to himself be subsequently arrested and sentenced to three days in the Clark County Detention Center.

Judging from the four case studies included in this documentary, Denison got off comparatively easy, given the fatal police shootings of Trevon Cole, Erik Scott, Stanley Gibson and Tashii Farmer-Brown, which to date have resulted in seven-figure settlement payments by the LVMPD to the families of Cole and Gibson.

Denison’s experience cutting true crime programs pays off, delivering a polished production that also profiles the work of an individual he deems a good cop — Larry Burns, a retired police captain who unsuccessfully ran for Clark County Sheriff against Joe Lombardo in 2014.

But his efforts to revise the film by incorporating the tragic events of Oct. 1 in a bid to further level accusations of systematic cover-ups against Lombardo ultimately prove less effective.

Despite Denison’s intentions, a very fine, uncomfortable line exists between being up-to-the-minute and opportunistic.

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‘What Happened in Vegas’

Not rated.

Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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