A Black man has sued two police departments after officers allegedly mistook him for a white man with the same name, according to a lawsuit.
Shane Lee Brown, 25, was sent to jail for six days in 2020 in two different Nevada institutions after police mistook him for an older, taller white man – Shane Neal Brown, according to court documents. In a statement to The Independent, police pushed back on the claims made in the lawsuit, arguing that the arrest was “lawful and proper”.
At the time of the alleged mix-up, the younger Mr Brown was 23 and the older man was 49 – an age difference of 26 years.
Shane Lee Brown is suing the Las Vegas Metropolitan police department and the Henderson police department for civil rights violations, false imprisonment, negligence, as well as other wrongful conduct.
The legal complaint states that he’s seeking at least $50,000 in monetary damages.
Henderson police told The Independent in a statement that “during a routine traffic stop for driving an unregistered vehicle, Shane Brown was correctly arrested by Henderson Police for driving with a suspended license and for a contempt of court, failure to pay warrant issued by Henderson Municipal Court”.
The department added that “Mr Brown admitted to the arresting officers that he knew his driver license was suspended and that he had traffic warrants in Henderson. The plaintiff in this lawsuit has not presented all the facts and circumstances behind his lawful and proper arrest by Henderson Police, which will be further addressed in the City Attorney’s response to the court”.
A bench warrant was issued for the 49-year-old Mr Brown in November 2019. He was accused of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Shane Neal Brown was described in the warrant as a caucasian man with brown hair, blue eyes, and a white beard. He was convicted of a felony in 1994, before the birth of Lee Brown, who was pulled over by police in January of 2020 and held in the Henderson detention centre.
According to a legal filing, he was transferred to the custody of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police two days later. His lawsuit states that he told officers in both Henderson and Las Vegas that he was not the Shane Brown they were looking for – the white man in his late forties with a white beard.
His lawyer has accused the officers of neglecting to do “any due diligence” since the mugshot of the white man would show them that the younger man had been taken in by mistake.
KLAS reported that Lee Brown stayed in jail until he went before a judge who ordered his release.
Las Vegas police learned a week later that Shane Neal Brown had been taken into custody in San Bernardino County, California. Later that month, he accepted a plea deal and appeared in court, according to KLAS.
Las Vegas police told The Independent that the department “does not provide comment on pending litigation”.
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