Las Vegas Police Brutality Lawyer
Las Vegas police officers are supposed to protect citizens’ lives, but in cases of police brutality, they destroy them. If an officer uses excessive force, kills someone without legal justification, or otherwise violates your constitutional rights, you deserve justice. The Police Brutality Center helps victims of police misconduct in Las Vegas connect with legal representation so that they can hold the police accountable for their actions and pursue compensation for their medical costs, emotional trauma, and suffering.
The bright lights of Las Vegas sometimes conceal its troublesome history of police brutality, misconduct, and racial profiling. In 2018 and 2019, the city’s police department received over 4,500 misconduct complaints, but less than 10 percent ended with disciplinary action.
If you have experienced police brutality or lost a loved one due to an officer’s excessive use of force, the Police Brutality Center will help you seek justice. You can work with a Las Vegas police brutality lawyer to file a claim against the officers and police department that were responsible for your suffering.
Police Misconduct Laws in Las Vegas
If you or a loved one have experienced police brutality or excessive force in Las Vegas, both state and federal laws determine what actions you can take and what steps you should follow.
Violations of Constitutional Rights
The federal government protects victims of police brutality with 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which is the federal statute that allows you to sue when officers violate your constitutional rights. For your case to succeed, a civil rights lawyer must prove that an officer deprived you of your rights while acting under the color of law. In other words, your lawyer must show the officers were using their authority as police officers when they violated your rights. Police misconduct claims often involve these types of violations:
Pursuing a legal action against the police is complex. Certain legal protections and immunities shield police officers and their departments from liability. For instance, the qualified immunity doctrine protects officers from liability unless they violate “clearly established” statutory or constitutional rights. Thus, the law might shield them from liability even if an officer’s actions were objectively wrong.
Anyone considering a civil rights lawsuit should consult legal counsel to navigate the complexities of such cases.
Right to Use Force
In addition, Nevada has separate police misconduct laws that can affect your ability to file suit against a law enforcement officer.
Nevada law enforcement officers have the right to use a certain level of force to maintain control in dangerous situations. As outlined in Nevada Revised Statute § 200.140, police officers in Nevada can use deadly force in these situations:
To successfully bring a police brutality claim in Las Vegas, an attorney must prove the officer’s force was unnecessary, excessive, and unjustified under the law.
Statute of Limitations
If you or someone you know has been a victim of police brutality, it’s essential to take legal action as quickly as possible. Under Nevada state law, you have two years from the incident date to file a lawsuit against a police department. After that point, your claim is no longer valid. However, the two-year timeframe doesn’t begin until your eighteenth birthday if you were a minor when the incident occurred.
Las Vegas Police Department History
The Las Vegas Police Department has a long history of questionable conduct and a reputation for excessive use of force and civil rights violations. Much of the problem originates from the police department’s struggle to adapt to the city’s transformation in the 1970s and 1980s when it lost its small-town feel and became a bustling urban environment.
The presence of organized crime in Las Vegas casinos also made it difficult for the police to manage escalating levels of violence and theft. Overworked and overwhelmed, some LVMPD officers resorted to corruption. Others managed to abuse their power without drawing attention, and the department as a whole lacked accountability and transparency.
As a result of this history, the LVMPD now struggles to recruit new officers. The department has made efforts to build a force that better reflects the community’s demographics, but it’s a difficult goal to achieve because of the widespread lack of trust in law enforcement.
Cases of Police Brutality in Las Vegas
Over the years, the LVMPD has faced many accusations of misconduct. While these cases may be different from your own, they help clarify what constitutes police brutality and excessive force in Las Vegas.
One of the most notable victims of police brutality in Las Vegas is Charles Bush. He was sleeping in his bed in the middle of the night on July 31, 1990, when three white LVMPD officers entered his apartment without a search warrant.After the officers placed him in handcuffs, Bush began struggling to breathe and later died. The coroner ruled the case a homicide and the cause of death strangulation. While the district attorney initially declined to press charges against the officers, the state attorney general indicted them for involuntary manslaughter.
In June 2010, Las Vegas police officers knocked on the door of 21-year-old Trevon Cole, a man they believed was selling narcotics. When he failed to answer the door, they raided his apartment and found him flushing marijuana down the toilet. Although Cole wasn't armed, police fatally shot him.Officers later learned that their warrant was actually for another man who had the same name but a different address and a lengthy criminal record. Cole's family received a $1.7 million settlement from the police department. The case also resulted in departmental changes, but the officer responsible for the shooting only received a 40-hour suspension.
Jorge Gomez was attending a Black Lives Matter demonstration in downtown Las Vegas when police shot and killed him. A few minutes before, a man had shot another officer in a nearby location. Officers used this unrelated shooting as justification for killing Gomez, who was openly and legally carrying a gun in a holster at the time.The district attorney declined to press criminal charges against any of the officers, stating that they were justified in believing that Gomez might hurt them even though he hadn't acted aggressively.
Las Vegas Police Brutality Lawyers
A variety of Las Vegas attorneys and law firms are available to assist victims of police brutality. They include:
These and other attorneys with experience in police brutality cases know how to navigate the city’s complex legal processes. At Police Brutality Center, we may be able to help connect you with a civil rights lawyer so you can get legal help.
Why Work With a Police Brutality Lawyer?
Victims of police brutality often feel powerless and unsure of how to move forward. An experienced attorney will listen to the details of your case and then review police reports, videos, photographs, and witness testimony to gather evidence that supports your claim. A lawyer can also help you properly complete the paperwork to submit a misconduct complaint.
For many victims, the primary goal of hiring an attorney is making the responsible party acknowledge the harm they caused. In a civil rights case, this might involve recovering different types of damages, including:
Your lawyer will calculate the amount and type of damages you can seek before filing your claim.
Filing a Civil Rights Claim in Las Vegas
There are multiple ways for victims of police misconduct in Las Vegas to bring attention to their experience. An attorney can assist you with filing a complaint or lawsuit.
Citizen Review Board
As a victim of police brutality, you can file complaints about police misconduct with the LVMPD Citizen Review Board as long as you submit it within one year of the date of the incident. When you file a written complaint, the board’s director reviews it and determines whether it falls under their jurisdiction. If it does, a screening panel reviews it and any documentation submitted by internal affairs or the officer in question. They might dismiss it or recommend disciplinary action, additional training, or policy changes.
LVMPD Complaint Submission
You can also submit a complaint directly to the LVMPD through the department’s website. If the department feels your report warrants further investigation, a representative of the Internal Affairs Bureau will reach out to speak to you and gather more information about the officer involved.
Your complaint should contain as many details as possible, including:
When you file your complaint, remember that it needs to paint a clear and accurate picture of what occurred.
If you decide to pursue a civil claim against the police department and any officers, your attorney will investigate, collect evidence, and speak to witnesses. They will review footage from police body cameras, which Nevada law requires all officers to wear and use. Your attorney will also complete all necessary paperwork and file it within the statute of limitations.
Police Reform in Las Vegas
In 2021, the LVMPD released a 37-page accountability report and promised to continue to do so in subsequent years. Unfortunately, only one year later, the department announced it would no longer produce or release its report, which included a list of complaints against police officers and the resolution of any internal investigations conducted in response to the complaints. This about-face reflects a lack of progress that frustrates advocates for police reform throughout Las Vegas.
Despite this development, the Crime and Justice Institute issued a report showing that the LVMPD has made some positive changes, such as:
These improvements demonstrate that change is possible but that the fight for better police practices is far from over.
Seeking Support for Las Vegas Police Brutality Victims
You shouldn’t have to carry the financial burden and anxiety of growing medical bills following an incidence of police brutality. While your encounter with police may have left you physically and emotionally traumatized, you can fight for justice, and you don’t have to do it alone.
An attorney will provide guidance as you decide whether to file a misconduct complaint or a civil rights lawsuit. If you need assistance from a Las Vegas police misconduct lawyer, contact the Police Brutality Center to get legal help.