The recent federal lawsuit filed by a woman from California because of an incident at the Mirage is a rare example of an all too common nightclub blow-up that has been hidden from the media. The major media in Las Vegas did cover the story last week, primarily because of the video.
Last week, I saw news from Contact 13 (KTNV) about a federal lawsuit filed against Metro resulting from an incident at a nightclub at the Mirage in August of 2014. The first sentence of the report referred to “the video that’s making its way around the world.” If the video is actually making its way around the world…that can’t be good advertising for the LVCVA (Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority).
And just what will Las Vegas be forced to deal with if a spine ended up severed like that of Freddie Gray in Baltimore?
Darcy Spears is the chief investigative reporter for Action 13 News.
She obtained video of an officer slamming a female into a marble table during a melee outside of the club, 1 OAK. Ariana Mason suffered broken teeth and received stitches in her face for various injuries.
The video also showed a large number of police officers attempting to restore order and even jumping over a bar — now those officers were physically fit! Metro Internal Affairs (my pal Lt. Karen Hughes) has apparently found no violations of LVMPD policy.
Mason was charged with battery on a protected person but those charges were dropped by the DA’s Office. This is actually quite common (even when police officers are arrested) but nobody ever demands an explanation about why this happens. Metro eventually (try eight months later) provided a press release to go along with the surveillance video from the Mirage: LVMPD released the following statement: “The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has received numerous
media inquiries regarding a lawsuit stemming from a use of force incident which occurred in August 2014 at 1 OAK Nightclub inside the Mirage Resort.
After reviewing the unadulterated, unedited video footage of the incident, we concluded our officer used an appropriate amount of force to resolve the situation and take the suspect into custody. The officer was found to have been operating within the guidelines of policy and the internal investigation was subsequently closed.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department receives dozens of lawsuits each year, and as responsible stewards of our taxpayer funded budget, we will continue to aggressively defend lawful actions by our employees.
Due to pending litigation, no further comments or statements will be released regarding this incident.”
LVMPD also gave us new information about what it paid out in legal settlements for the 2014 calendar year, just over one million taxpayer dollars. They said that’s only one quarter of one percent of the department’s total budget. I say, ‘responsible stewards’? What a crock!
What really caught my attention here was the claim that Metro is a ‘responsible steward’ for taxpayer money. That is easy to say when virtually nobody has access to the facts or reports them to the public — especially before a new sheriff is elected. Sheriff Joe-Lo just was able to snag a 10 percent increase in his budget which now totals $539 million! So paying out a million a year is an even smaller percentage now. Astounding, isn’t it?
What happens when you are a private business and you solicit (and make tens of millions of dollars) from young adults, but things go wrong?
Nightclub clientele are encouraged to intoxicate themselves with alcohol and drugs and to reach such a stupor that they forget what even happened? Remember, “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas?”
This is what happens. Hotels/nightclubs have some high quality security personnel but there are also those who have no business doing the job. Hotels have the money to hire Metro officers for overtime which provides big money to officers through Metro Special Events. If things get really out of control ‘regular’ patrol officers respond and aren’t available on the Strip or even in other area commands if this incident requires additional resources.
The hotel expects that you will take their side and not evaluate the incident and determine if there is probable cause for an arrest or citizen’s arrest. And why not? most of the hotels have ‘paid’ to install their ‘boy’ as the sheriff. Hotels often want officers to physically arrest and not issue citations. Hotels don’t want scrutiny for the level of force that they use. I’m aware of calls with ‘broken teeth’ and other serious injuries inflicted by security. A Metro sergeant’s son was once beaten by a security officer who used a club and the ‘brute’ was eventually fired. I often wondered just how much money has been paid out in civil lawsuit settlements over the last decade due to inept, brutal, and corrupt conduct related to ‘private security’ on the Strip. We don’t even really know what Metro pays for hotel incidents.
When I returned to the LVMPD in 2004, and later worked as a patrol officer and sergeant on the Strip, I returned with some PERSPECTIVE. Nobody in the history of the LVMPD had ever left as a lieutenant and returned as a patrol officer and I had also served in another state as a police chief and taught college classes as a professor in between.
I had developed the insight and concerns of an ‘administrator’ and leader and what I saw upon my return to Las Vegas (especially nightclub disorder) was very troubling. Instead of being taken seriously, I was essentially mocked by the Young and Gillespie regimes, and why not? They received hundreds of thousands of dollars for their campaigns from hotel-casino operators who wanted public police to assist on private property (and probably not a dime from nightclub patrons who could have been seriously injured or lost their lives on any given night).
Our public police serving influential private property owners should be transparent and highly scrutinized. I have plenty of stories to tell about policing the Strip. Eventually, some will be told because Sheriff Gillespie’s GAG ORDER didn’t work.
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Norm Jahn is a former LVMPD lieutenant, who has also served as a police chief in Shawano, Wisconsin, and has nearly 25 years of police experience. Jahn now contributes his opinions and ideas to help improve policing in general, and in Las Vegas in particular, through his weekly column in the Las Vegas Tribune.