LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A report from the Clark County Coroner’s office reveals the man who stole a car and then hit a state trooper during a chase had excessive amounts of methamphetamine in his system — more than 90 times the level prosecutors need to show impairment.
Trooper Micah May was laying down spike strips on Interstate 15 when the suspect, Douglas Claiborne, 60, hit him, sending May through the windshield and into the car.
May, 46, a husband and father of two, was declared brain dead two days after the incident.
Trooper May was an employee with Nevada Highway Patrol, which has since been renamed Nevada State Police.
Several minutes after Claiborne struck May, police stopped Claiborne with a pit maneuver. One trooper and three parole and probation officers got out of their vehicles and saw Claiborne grabbing May’s gun. They then fired a total of 26 rounds at the suspect.
The report obtained by the I-Team indicates 18 of those rounds hit Claiborne. No bullets hit May, who was in the car’s passenger seat.
The report also indicates Claiborne had alcohol and methamphetamine in his blood at the time of his death.
The amount of methamphetamine in the toxicology report is measured in nanograms per milliliter. Claiborne had 9,000 ng/mL of methamphetamine in his blood, the report said.
“Blood levels of 200-600 ng/mL have been reported in methamphetamine abusers who exhibited violent and irrational behavior,” the report notes. “High doses of methamphetamine can also elicit restlessness, confusion, hallucinations, circulatory collapse and convulsions.”
The prosecutorial limit in Nevada to prove impairment from methamphetamine is 100 ng/mL. A reading of 9,000 ng/mL puts the level found in Claiborne’s blood at 90 times above the prosecutorial limit.
A study published in 2013 found post-mortem blood samples from methamphetamine misuse have ranged from 1,400 ng/mL to 13,000 ng/mL. The average methamphetamine-related death involving an overdose was 1,000 ng/mL, the study found.
“Obviously, this is an excessive amount, even after someone has passed,” Dr. Christina Madison, an associate professor of pharmacy practice at Roseman University, said. Madison cautioned each person has a different tolerance to a substance.
“Bottom line, this is definitely beyond what we typically see in somebody who is exhibiting behaviors that are outside of the normal,” Madison said.
Claiborne’s attorney, Victor Bakke, told the I-Team in July that his client struggled with methamphetamine misuse. The attorney also said Claiborne had a criminal history spanning multiple states, including Nevada, Iowa, Texas and Hawaii.
“I do know that he had to be completely out of his mind high on drugs,” Bakke told the I-Team’s Vanessa Murphy in July.
The pursuit began near McCarran airport more than a half-hour before the incident on the highway. The pursuit covered about 20 miles before it ended on I-15 near Spring Mountain Road.
Metro first responded to a reported carjacking at Sunset and Las Vegas boulevards. The victim told police he and a coworker were working at a construction site when the latter saw Claiborne sitting in the victim’s car.
The victim yelled at the suspect to get out and tried opening the doors, which he found to be locked.
Claiborne then showed a large kitchen knife, threatened him, and started the car with the keys that were left inside. The suspect took off, running over the victim’s foot.
The report obtained by the I-Team also indicates Claiborne’s family told officials he was homeless and living under a bridge in Hawaii. They said he would travel to Las Vegas to gamble, receiving $50,000 a month from a family inheritance.
The family also told the coroner’s office they were extremely apologetic for Claiborne’s actions.
Bakke nor May’s family returned requests for comment.