Key witness to Las Vegas killing tracked down by police in East Yorkshire
AN EAST Yorkshire holidaymaker could be a key witness in a Las Vegas police investigation after a man died following a fight.
The man, who has not been identified, witnessed John Massie and Benjamin Hawkins arguing outside the toilets of a casino moments before Mr Massie was killed with one punch.
Florida high school football coach Mr Hawkins is facing a charge of involuntary manslaughter after an initial murder charge was reduced.
He hit Mr Massie, 47, after Mr Massie was alleged to have made a racist comment while both men were in a toilet on July 6 last year at O'Sheas Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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Mr Massie never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead within 30 minutes.
Humberside Police were asked for assistance in tracking down the key East Yorkshire witness.
The force received a request from a detective assigned to the murder, asking for assistance in obtaining a statement from the witness.
The task was allocated to a local officer, who visited the witness, took the statement and sent it over to the Las Vegas team, as requested.
The prompt response by Humberside officers prompted a note of thanks from the officer in the homicide department of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department after he received a copy of the statement.
In an e-mail to the force, Detective Jeff Rosgen said: "I am impressed with the professionalism and speed with which the force assisted me."
Chief Constable Tim Hollis has praised officers who helped their colleagues in the US.
He said: "This is a great example of successful international co-operation between Humberside Police and our colleagues overseas.
"It is always pleasing to note that our efforts are appreciated, no matter how far or near those efforts are concentrated.
"British policing has a fine reputation abroad and I am proud that we have upheld that image."
The witness statement was faxed over this week as Las Vegas police built their case against Mr Hawkins.
Mr Hawkins is set to argue he hit Mr Massie in self-defence.
CCTV footage showed Mr Massie leaving the toilets near the food court at O'Sheas.
Mr Massie waited near the door. Moments later, Hawkins left the bathroom and started walking to a nearby gaming table where his wife and friends were waiting.
The inaudible footage showed Mr Massie and Mr Hawkins exchanging words outside of the toilet.
Mr Hawkins is seen turning to leave and, as he walks away. Mr Massie takes three steps toward Mr Hawkins's back with his hands in his pockets.
Mr Hawkins turns in a swift motion and throws a right-handed punch that lands on the left side of Mr Massie's face.
Mr Massie lands on the ground with the back of his head slamming into the floor.
At a preliminary hearing, a county medical examiner testified Mr Massie died as a result of head trauma suffered when his head hit the floor.
Mr Hawkins, 38, said he thought Mr Massie was acting aggressively and that he had made racial comments before he turned and punched him.
Both men were in Las Vegas on holiday.