When filmmaker Ramsey Denison went to Las Vegas for a relaxing weekend, the last thing he expected was to be arrested and beaten for reporting an incident of police brutality that he personally witnessed on the strip.
What Happened in Vegas examines the lack of accountability within the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department concerning four cases where individuals were killed by the police. The Las Vegas shooting, the deadliest mass shooting in US history, also shines a light on the department's troubling tendency to lionize themselves by playing with the truth. With the help of former LVMPD officers and families of Trevon Cole, Erik Scott, Stanley Gibson, and Tashii Farmer, the documentary weaves its way through the maze of lies laid by LVMPD officials when it comes to the abuse of power especially wielded against minorities.
In the shadow of this deep seated corruption, there are still those officers who fight to improve relations with their surrounding community in order to keep the streets safe. The crux of the film follows the heated sheriff's race between Joe Lombardo and Larry Burns. The former is hand-picked by his predecessor and funded by the casinos while the latter is almost overwhelmingly backed by police union leaders of other counties as well as the Nevada Attorney General.
What Happened in Vegas not only takes an unflinching look at one of the most corrupt police departments in the country, but also explores the officers who are working to bring about change by becoming one with the communities they're sworn to serve.
FILMMAKER'S STATEMENT: "When I drove into Vegas a couple years ago, making a documentary about police corruption was the furthest thing from my mind. The notion that cops could be the bad guys was not something I'd spent much time thinking about. That all changed when my friend and I saw police officers torturing a stranger. I called 911 and reported the incident. A couple minutes later, I got beat up, arrested, and thrown in jail by those same cops. In a town where you can get beaten up, arrested, and thrown in jail simply for making a phone call to report police brutality, I couldn't help but wonder what else the LVMPD has done. I discovered that behind the glittering lights, the real Las Vegas is a rigged game of corrupt policing and institutional cover ups."
Reviews & Awards"What Happened in Vegas blows the whistle on a disturbing pattern of excessive force and corruption within [local police] ranks."
-Los Angeles Times
"A damning portrait...Ramsey Denison's doc uses a chance eyewitness encounter as a springboard for a condemnation of Sin City policing...Effective."
-The Hollywood Reporter
"Unveils a pattern of police malfeasance, including coverups and lies, through disturbing stories of unjustified deaths...A damning takedown of the city's powers that be...Shows how bad police ultimately will maltreat anyone."
"Incendiary documentary explores police corruption and brutality in Sin City...Startling and very timely."
"Mad-as-hell documentary exploring three cases involving Las Vegas Police that resulted in the death of civilians. Filmmaker Ramsey Denison's volatile encounter with the cops and his resulting jail time fueled the making of Vegas, which is riveting from start to finish."
"A shocking and heartbreaking documentary"
Grand Jury Prize, Freedom Fest
Best Documentary, Las Vegas Black Film Festival
Grand Jury Prize, Anthem Film Festival
Grand Rapids Film Festival
Anthem Film Festival
Newport Film Festival
Thin Line Film Festival
Las Vegas Black Film Festival
In Justice For All Film Festival