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Black Man Jailed for 6 Days After Las Vegas Police Mistake Him For Middle-aged White Felon

— January 27, 2022

Henderson police arrested 25-year-old Shane Lee Brown, believing he was 49-year-old Shane Neal Brown, a 49-year-old White convicted felon.

A 25-year-old Black man has filed a lawsuit against the Las Vegas Metropolitan and Henderson police departments after he was sent to jail on a felony arrest warrant, only for officers to realize they should have been looking for a middle-aged White man.

According to USA Today, law enforcement did not realize their mistake for days, keeping Shane Lee Brown locked behind bars. He was released only after officers looked at the suspect’s arrest mug shots and realized they arrested the wrong person.

“Had any of the LVMPD or any corrections officers preformed any due diligence […] they would have easily determined that Shane Lee Brown has been misidentified as the subject of the warrant,” the lawsuit states.

USA Today reports that the “mix-up” began on January 8, 2020, when Henderson P.D. stopped Brown on the way home from work. Since Brown did not have his driver’s license with him, he provided officers his name and social security card.

Handcuffs with key sitting on fingerprint card; image by Bill Oxford, via
Handcuffs with key sitting on fingerprint card; image by Bill Oxford, via

When officers checked their records, they misidentified Shane Lee Brown—who was 24 years old at the time of his arrest—with Shane Neal Brown, a then-49-year-old convicted felon believed to be in possession of an illegal firearm.

However, Shane Lee Brown is Black, dark-haired, and beardless, while Shane Neal Brown is White, has brown hair and a beard.

The elder Brown, says USA Today, is also four inches taller.

Lee, says the lawsuit, was advised he had a warrant out for his arrest, taken into custody, and held at the Henderson Detention Center until January 10; he was then remanded to Las Vegas, where he stayed until his release four days later.

However, nobody realized that Shane Lee Brown was innocent until public defender Shannon L. Phenix told the court.

“Ms. Phenix,” the complaint states, “advised that the incorrect individual had been arrested on the bench warrant in the instant case.”

While Brown was immediately released after officers obtained Shane Neal Brown’s mug shot, the lawsuit observes that law enforcement could have taken other measures to verify they had the right man, such as the comparing fingerprints, birth dates, or simple physical descriptions of the two men.

Kathleen Richards, a spokesperson for the city of Henderson, told USA Today and other media outlets that Brown is misrepresenting his case.

“Mr. Brown admitted to the arresting officers that he knew his driver license was suspended and that he had traffic warrants in Henderson,” she said. “The plaintiff in this lawsuit has not presented all the facts and circumstances behind his lawful and proper arrest by Henderson Police, which will further be addressed in the City Attorney’s response to the court.”

However, Brown’s attorney, E. Brent Bryson, told NBC News that Henderson is a party to the lawsuit not because they arrested Brown for his traffic warrant but because they wrongfully held him on a felony warrant without checking to ensure they had the right man.

“They are not being sued because they arrested him for traffic [violations],” Bryson told NBC News. “They are being sued because they held him wrongfully and [he] then was transported for a felony warrant which wasn’t him.”


A Black man was misidentified, arrested and held for 6 days in place of a White felon twice his age

Black man was jailed after Nevada police mistook him for white man, lawsuit claims


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