Saturday, May 16, 2015

Exclusive: Guns N' Roses guitarist talks about helicopter ride

8 News NOW

 LAS VEGAS -- In an exclusive interview with 8 News NOW, guitarist Daren Jay Ashba is speaking for the first time about the helicopter ride that cost his friend and former police captain his job.

Metro Captain David O'Leary was demoted for arranging a ride on a department helicopter for the Guns N' Roses guitarist and Columbian actress Nathalia Henao on Aug. 7, 2013.

Ashba said he asked O'Leary where he could find a private helicopter to use for his proposal to his then girlfriend and was instead offered a ride in the police helicopter.

When news broke that a member of Guns N' Roses got the free ride, O'Leary's attorney said he was forced to resign by Metro.

A state board ruled on Friday that O'Leary did not break rules and he should be reinstated with the department.

"Now that Dave and me have been cleared, and my wife, now it's time to speak. Now you know, 'cause I'm tired of being quiet," said Ashba.

A picture of the couple posted on Instagram, about a free ride on the Metro Police helicopter, caused controversy.

"I felt horrible because it's supposed to be an amazing moment for us and somebody lost a job. A friend of us, like I was clueless and I couldn't believe it was happening," said Henao.

"There's nobody more loyal and honest than him and that's why it was just horrifying what they were saying about us, you know. They made it seem like we, you know, jumped a fence at midnight and stole a helicopter," said Ashba.

As it turns out, a civilian ride along on the Metro helicopter is allowed. According to the Employee Management Relations Board, it was within department policy and O'Leary should be reinstated with back pay. The state board's decision comes nearly two years after the incident.

"When you know you're innocent for almost two years, it couldn't be a better day," said Ashba.

O'Leary declined an interview, but his attorney, Adam Levine, says the decision is what they've been waiting for.

Metro released a statement saying they disagree with the ruling and will be appealing the decision.

"I hope that their threats to appeal were just a statement made in the spur of the moment and that they will welcome him back," said Levine.

After hearing Metro's statement, Ashba maintains O'Leary's innocence.

"He loses his job because he did something out of the kindness of his heart," said Ashba. "He did nothing wrong. We did nothing wrong. What are they gonna fight? Fight us."

The controversy happened around the time former Sheriff Doug Gillespie was going to ask for a tax increase for more Metro funding.

According to the state board, management at Metro then told O'Leary the negative media attention might affect the funding and he was coerced into retiring. The board's decision says that Metro should stop discriminating against employees for political reasons.

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