LAS VEGAS — A former Las Vegas police captain who resigned rather than be demoted for helping a Guns N’ Roses guitarist use the department’s helicopter for an elaborate wedding proposal is poised to get his job back, have his record cleared and be paid what he would have earned since Dec. 20, 2013, when he left the department.
A state agency that resolves disputes between public agencies and employees ordered the Las Vegas police department Friday to reinstate David O’Leary to his job as captain.
The Las Vegas police department said in a statement that the agency disagrees with the ruling and plans to appeal. Any appeal would be made to the state’s district court in Clark County.
Attorneys for O’Leary did not return calls seeking comment.
O’Leary had been criticized for helping arrange a police helicopter ride for friend Daren Jay “DJ” Ashba in August 2013 so the guitarist for Guns N’ Roses could propose to then-girlfriend Nathalia Henao.
It was Ashba’s social media posts on Instagram thanking the Las Vegas police department for its help arranging the helicopter tour and subsequent proposal in a field of roses that prompted the investigation into O’Leary and the helicopter pilot’s actions.
The ruling from the Local Government Employee-Management Relations Board said the department’s decision to demote O’Leary was politically motivated because of the negative attention the helicopter ride attracted at the same time the department was attempting to lobby for a sales tax increase to pay for additional officers.
The ruling said O’Leary had asked a fellow officer for advice, on behalf of Ashba, for booking a private helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon and was told none were available. Instead, O’Leary was told the department could offer a “fly-along” in the helicopter, according to the ruling, which also said the participants signed the department’s necessary paperwork to take the ride.
The ruling also noted that the proposal in a nearby field of roses happened in a public park, not on police property.
O’Leary had been with the department for nearly 25 years and led its financial crimes division. He ultimately resigned before he could be demoted a rank to lieutenant, later applying with the department to rescind his resignation. It was not rescinded.