Early in the morning of December 5, 1999, off-duty Las Vegas Metro police officer Dennis Devitte was one of the customers at Mr. D’s Sports Bar, at Rainbow Boulevard and Oakey Drive, where he and some pals had gone to hear the band Pigs in a Blanket.
A little after 1 a.m., three armed robbers charged through the back door with guns drawn and their faces covered with T-shirts or bandanas. “I’d only been in the bar a short time and was talking to friends,” Devitte later told an interviewer for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Then, “I saw a ruckus at the end of the bar. …
“One of the gunmen went right by me and shot a man in a wheelchair, hitting him in the shoulder,” Officer Devitte recalled. “I only had my small .25-caliber off-duty gun, which isn’t very accurate, so I knew I had to get really close before I could start shooting. Otherwise I might hit someone else.”
The robbers might have taken a moment to consider the name of the band, which was also made up of off-duty officers. Mr. D’s was often referred to as a “cop bar,” though the IACP contends Officer Devitte was, curiously enough, the only patron armed at the time.
Officer Devitte dug the handgun out of his pocket and approached 19-year-old Emilio Rodriguez, who was firing into the crowd with a .40 caliber pistol. “I went straight at him as he turned and started firing at me,” Devitte said. “He kept firing and hitting me, but I held my fire until I got to less than 18 inches from him.”
The incident took 20 seconds and was recorded on the bar’s surveillance tape. Devitte shot Rodriguez eight times – twice through the heart – before the officer finally fell, the robber’s last round having blown out his knee.
Rodriguez stumbled out the front door and died. The other two robbers fled.