A Black man, who filed a lawsuit after he was mistakenly detained for almost a week on a warrant for a White man with a similar name, has reached a $90,000 settlement with two police departments.
According to FOX5 Vegas, the January 2020 mix-up occurred after Nevada police officers pulled Shane Lee Brown over for a supposed traffic violation. But he ended up being arrested on a warrant issued for one Shane Neal Brown. That was despite the Black man telling the officers that they had the wrong person.
Per the details of the settlement, Henderson Police will pay Brown $25,000 while Las Vegas Metropolitan Police will pay him $65,000.
Brown was initially pulled over for driving without his headlights on. He informed the officers that he had misplaced his wallet and license and was yet to settle outstanding traffic tickets. He also told the officers that he’ll get that sorted the next day.
“We should call and see… If he has court tomorrow, we don’t want to arrest him that would be dumb,” a Henderson police officer is heard saying in body cam footage.
After Brown’s name was run, a felony warrant from Metro for a weapons charge popped up. “You got arrested for something with a weapon in Metro, at least that is what they are saying,” an officer is heard telling Brown.
“No, wrong guy,” Brown responds.
In an interview with FOX5 Vegas, Brown, who was 23 at the time of the incident, said he tried telling the officers to take another look at the warrant. But that fell on deaf ears. “I’m not a felon, I didn’t commit a felony… I was trying to plead to anyone that would listen, to let everyone know like ‘Hey can you double check,’” Brown said.
The Black man also said he’s still traumatized by the incident. “I almost never drive any more unless it is absolutely necessary.”
“It is just difficult for him to put what happened to him aside and hopefully with time he will be able to do so,” Brown’s attorney, E. Brent Bryson, said.
The warrant in question was for a White man identified as Shane Neal Brown. The 51-year-old suspect was facing a felony firearm possession charge. Body cam footage of the traffic stop also seemed to suggest the officers couldn’t fully establish if the warrant was indeed for the Black man, FOX5 Vegas reported.
“What do we want to tell the jail?,” an officer asked a colleague. “He has a weapons charge,” the second officer responded.
Following his arrest, Brown was transported to the Henderson Detention Center. And though he told officers they got the wrong person, his pleas were disregarded. Brown was subsequently transferred to the Clark County Detention Center two days after his arrest. Authorities keyed in his correct date of birth, race, and height. Brown was also given a different identification number that had been issued to the White suspect who was over 20 years his senior, Face2Face Africa reported.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department also ordered Brown to appear before a judge for the bench warrant that had been issued for the older Brown. That was despite the fact that the plaintiff’s race and date of birth had been recorded, The Urban Daily reported.
Brown was detained at the Clark County Detention Center for another four days. A district judge eventually released him after the photos of the two men were displayed in court during his appearance.
“Each of those entities stepped up and acknowledged that they had made a mistake,” Bryson said.
Bryson also said the settlement is near the highest amount awarded for such lawsuits. “In Nevada, for negligence, when you sue a governmental entity, there is a statutory cap of $100,000,” Bryson said.