Las Vegas Police Sued for Jailing Black Man Using an Arrest Warrant Meant for a White Man With a Similar Name

In a case combining mistaken identity, incredibly poor judgment and racial profiling, Las Vegas police are accused of “confusing” a 23-year-old Black man for a white man twice his age simply because they share a similar name. And now that wrongfully detained man is filing suit against the police department for their negligence.

NPR’s Deepa Shivaram reported that “Shane Lee Brown is suing the police departments in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada, and several officers after they jailed him for six days, instead of a white man with a similar name who is taller, nearly twice as old and a convicted felon.”

According to Shivaram, “the lawsuit alleges that Shane Lee Brown, a Black man who was 23 years old at the time, was driving home on Jan. 8, 2020, when he was pulled over by Henderson police officers. He did not have his license but provided his name, Social Security number and Social Security card.”

In the lawsuit he has filed against the police officers and police department, Brown states that while they were looking up his record, the officers “confused” him with another man they found in their system. Aside from similar names, the two men had absolutely nothing in common — a fact Brown’s lawyers say they have been able to quickly determine. 

While Shane Lee Brown is a young Black man, the man police found in their database was named Shane Neal Brown, a 49-year-old white man with a beard who is also 4 inches taller than their “suspect.”

Shane Neal Brown was also a convicted felon with a warrant for his arrest due to illegal possession of a firearm.

“Shane Lee Brown remained in custody for six days, despite repeatedly telling officials he was not the Shane Brown they were looking for,” Shivaram said. “He was released on Jan. 14, 2020.”

As Brown’s lawyers state in their lawsuit: “had any of the LVMPD or any corrections officers performed any due diligence … they would have easily determined that Shane Lee Brown has been misidentified as the subject of the warrant.”

As a result of the arrest, Shane Lee Brown is suing the LVMPD for negligence, emotional distress, false imprisonment and violation of civil rights. His legal team is asking for a minimum of $500,000 in damages to be awarded in the case.

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.


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