Snejana Farberov and Harriet Alexander, Daily Mail, June 15, 2020
A police officer who was shot in the head during a Las Vegas Strip protest of the death of George Floyd has been left paralyzed from the neck down, on a ventilator and unable to speak, his family said in a statement.
Officer Shay Mikalonis, 29, was shot June 1 while attempting to detain demonstrators.
The family statement released on Twitter by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department on Saturday said he is expected to stay on the ventilator. He has been tentatively accepted at a premier spine rehabilitation center.
The family thanked doctors, nurses and staff at University Medical Center in Las Vegas for their care and the community for support and fundraising.
A GoFundMe campaign launched by a retired police officer who is a friend of Mikalonis’ step-father has drawn more than $130,000 in donations.
The organizer of the online fundraisers wrote in an update on Saturday that after learning that Mikalonis was a massive fan of the Golden Knights, members of the hockey team presented him with a signed jersey.
‘Again, our family can never express our gratitude for all the support for Shay,’ the unsigned family statement said. ‘We are always Las Vegas Strong and so proud of our community.’
The suspected gunman, Edgar Samaniego, 20, has been charged with attempted murder, battery and gun charges.
A prosecutor in the case said Friday that police video shows ‘visual evidence of the actual act’ of Mikalonis being shot in the back of the head.
A judge who reviewed the evidence at a June 5 court hearing said that police video shows Samaniego ‘walking by, taking out a gun and firing … at officers.’
The bullet, which has since been removed, traveled through Mikalonis’ spine before being lodged on the other side of his face.
Samaniego is being held in lieu of $1million bond. An appointed public defender, Scott Coffee, said after the hearing that Samaniego will plead not guilty.
Samaniego also is being held without bail on accusations that he violated the terms of release on separate misdemeanor driving under the influence and illegal drug possession charges.
Mikalonis on Tuesday had surgery to repair his shattered jaw, and was awake and able to recognize his relatives, they said.
But in an earlier statement tweeted by the Las Vegas police, the family said he remains on a ventilator and will remain so for the foreseeable future – perhaps for the rest of his life.
The family said they wanted well-wishers to know that the four-year veteran of the department was ‘a fighter’.
‘But he has a long hard fight ahead of him.’
They added: ‘Our concern is for Shay and only Shay.
‘We hope and pray that one day he will leave UMC Trauma and go to a rehabilitation facility [where] they can work on Shay’s quality of life, whatever that may be.’
Steve Grammas, president of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, thanked officers and supporters who have dropped off food and held vigils at the hospital.
‘From the moment Shay got shot, the community has continued to support him and our officers,’ Grammas told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. ‘We are thankful for it.’
In Las Vegas, demonstrations last weekend resulted in hundreds of arrests, and police used tear gas, pepper balls and beanbag projectiles to disperse crowds.
The same night Mikalonis was wounded, police shot and killed a man they said was armed with several guns and refused orders to leave an area near federal courthouses.