Police Misconduct in Las Vegas, Nevada: What is police misconduct?
Like it sounds, police misconduct in Nevada is whenever law enforcement oversteps its bounds, violates rules or breaks the law. Police misconduct may happen anywhere such as in a courthouse, a jail, a police station, a home, and out on the street. Typical scenarios include:
using excessive physical force (Examples are beatings, unreasonable restraint use, sexual assault, and improper use of guns, tasers, pepper spray, batons, police dogs and other weapons.)
performing an illegal strip search or a false arrest
fabricating, planting, or tampering with evidence
lying on the witness stand (perjury)
practicing discrimination, intimidation or corruption
Police misconduct happens for a variety of reasons: Poor training, poor judgment, laziness, sloppiness, pressure to get convictions, racism, sexism, or cruelty. Sometimes it's done by mistake. Other times it's intentional. Either way, many police practice a "code of silence" where they refuse to snitch on their fellow officers as part of a "protect our own" mentality.
Therefore, anyone who may have been victim to or witnessed police misconduct in Las Vegas should write down what happened right away and in detail. This prevents important facts from being forgotten, which would weaken their case against the police. Ideally the specifics should include the following:
the police officer's badge number
any witnesses to the misconduct
an in-depth narrative of exactly what happened when and where, including direct quotations
hospital records (if the misconduct included physical abuse)
photographs or video recording of the abuse or its aftermath
Whenever someone may have been a victim of police misconduct in Nevada, it's important they seek legal counsel to help them decide how best to proceed. An attorney should help them not only to maximize their chances of receiving compensation but also to safeguard their civil rights.
2. Criminal Prosecution in Las Vegas, Nevada: Can an officer go to jail for police misconduct?
It's possible, depending on the circumstances. If the police misbehaved to such an extent that their actions may qualify as criminal, then the victim may file a criminal complaint with the local district attorney's office. The D.A. would then decide whether to investigate and prosecute the matter. Typical offenses cops may be charged with include:
Nevada crime of battery with a deadly weapon (NRS 200.481)
Nevada crime of perjury, such as giving false information in a police report or lying on the witness stand (NRS 199.145)
Nevada crime of extortion of confession (NRS 199.460)
Nevada crime of malicious prosecution (NRS 199.310)
Nevada crime of falsifying evidence (NRS 199.220)
Nevada crime of offering false evidence (NRS 199.210)
The Nevada crime of a peace officer exceeding authority in execution of a search warrant (NRS 199.450)
If the cop pleads guilty or is found guilty, he/she may face prison, fines and termination from his/her law enforcement job. Note that in a criminal case, the victim would not be a "party" to the case—only the officer and the state of Nevada would be litigating against each other. Instead the victim could serve as a witness and otherwise help the state with its case against the accused officer.
3. Civil Rights Violations and Civil Torts in Las Vegas, Nevada: How can a victim get money for
A victim may try to recover compensation for alleged police misconduct by bringing a civil lawsuit against the individual officer(s) and/or the entire police agency such as the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Victims typically pursue one or both of the following causes of actions:
civil tort claims
Constitutional claims in Las Vegas, Nevada: Section 1983 Claims
The United States Constitution spells out various fundamental rights American citizens share that may not be compromised without just cause. Two frequently litigated constitutional issues in police misconduct cases are:
1.The Fourth Amendment right of freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. A violation occurs if the police conduct an illegal search by defying proper warrant procedures.
2.The Eighth Amendment right of freedom from cruel and unusual punishment. A violation occurs if the police subject the victim to unreasonable pain or torment while incarcerated.
Section 1983 of the United States Code offers victims a way to sue people who've seriously harmed them while acting under the "color of state law." In order to prevail on a Section 1983 claim, the victim has to show all of the following:
One of the victim's constitutional rights was violated,
The violation was perpetrated by someone acting under color of law (such as a police officer), and
The state agent who committed the violation was not immune from liability
Note that if the police officer was a federal employee as opposed to a state or city officer, the victim would bring a suit similar to a Section 1983 claim called a "Bivens claim."
Civil Tort Claims
A tort is a wrong that one person commits against someone else. Torts are similar to crimes except that crimes are prosecuted by the state against the alleged criminal, whereas torts are prosecuted by individual persons against each other. Furthermore, only crimes—not torts—may carry prison time as a punishment. Common torts that victims sue law enforcement for include:
If a cop or police agency is found liable under constitutional or tort claims, the court may then order them to pay compensation (or "damages") to the victim to help make up for the harm they suffered. Victims may also have the satisfaction of seeing the people who've wrong them held accountable for their misconduct and abuse of power.
4. Filing a Misconduct Report in Las Vegas, Nevada: How can an officer get disciplined for
Victims should consult with an attorney to help guide them through filing a police misconduct report in Nevada. There are many rules to follow, and any missteps may compromise its chances of success.
Note that filing a misconduct complaint is not the same as filing a criminal or civil complaint. The most a misconduct complaint can do is cause the Review Board to issue reports and recommendations to the sheriff, who then decides whether to take action and discipline the police.
How to file a police misconduct report in Las Vegas, Nevada
Victims or witnesses to police misconduct in Las Vegas may file a complaint with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Citizen Review Board. The Review Board retains jurisdiction over any misconduct allegations such as:
excessive use of force
illegal search or seizure
improper use of firearms
discrimination and harassment
If the board believes the complaint is credible, they will forward it to Metro's Internal Affair's Division for an investigation. There are four ways to contact the Citizen Review Board in Las Vegas:
1.In Person: Go to the Citizen Review Board's Office at 310 South 3rd Street, Ste. 319, Las Vegas, NV 89101 anytime on Monday through Friday from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM to fill out a complaint.