Black man arrested on warrant for white man awarded $90K settlement

LAS VEGAS — A case of mistaken identity has cost two Las Vegas-area law enforcement agencies a combined $90,000.

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The Henderson Police Department will pay Shane Lee Brown $25,000, while the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department will pay the 25-year-old $65,000 after he was held for nearly a week for a crime a 51-year-old man named Shane Neal Brown is accused of committing, KVVU-TV reported.

Body camera video of a January 2020 traffic stop showed the younger Brown, who was 23 at the time, explaining to officers that he lost his wallet and license and had outstanding traffic tickets but planned to resolve the issues the following morning. He had been pulled over for driving without his headlights on, the TV station reported.

After running a warrant check, however, Henderson officers took Shane Lee Brown – who is Black and 5 feet, 7 inches tall – into custody on an outstanding felony weapons warrant with Metro.

As it turns out, the actual subject of the arrest warrant was a 5-foot-11, 49-year-old white man with a “bushy white beard” and blue eyes, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported when the lawsuit was filed by Shane Lee Brown’s attorney, Brent Bryson, in January.

“It’s pretty hard to make a mistake of that magnitude when you have such different characteristics and races of a suspect,” Bryson told the newspaper.

According to the federal civil rights suit, Shane Lee Brown spent six days unlawfully imprisoned in the Henderson and Clark County detention facilities after both Las Vegas and Henderson police officers failed to properly check records comparing the two men, the Review-Journal reported.

“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,’” Shane Lee Brown told KVVU.

Meanwhile, Bryson told the TV station that the combined settlement his client was awarded is near the maximum $100,000 that Nevada law allows when suing a government entity.