Seriously Injured in 2001 Police Beating, Victim’s $1.2 Million Judgment Will Stand

Qualified Immunity Claim

By Officers in 2001 Beating

Rejected By Appeals Court

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled three Metropolitan Police Department officers must pay $1.6 million for using excessive force on Charles “Chuck”  Barnard back in 2001. The court rejected the officers’ claims of “qualified immunity.”

The ruling stems from a  Dec. 8, 2001 incident which began when  Barnard heard the distinct knock of the police on his door. Confident in the knowledge he had done nothing wrong, the former Marine opened the door and was immediately confronted by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officers Steven Radmanovich, Greg Theobald and Gary Clark. The officers were not looking for Barnard, but were trying to serve an arrest warrant on his brother. 

Not wanting to get caught up in whatever it was they thought his brother had done, Barnard immediately told the officers he would cooperate in any way he could. With his hands raised, Barnard was escorted from his apartment by Theobald, while the other officers began to enter the apartment looking for Barnard’s brother.

LVMPD's Greg Theobald

LVMPD’s Greg Theobald

Despite the fact Barnard had committed no crime and was fully cooperating with officers, Theobald began to handcuff him. That’s when things went horribly wrong. Apparently unable to focus on both handcuffing the innocent Barnard and watch where he was walking, Theobald tripped over a large flower pot sitting in front of the apartment. Rather than accept responsibility for his own clumsiness, Theobald began to treat Barnard as if he had caused him to fall. Mistaking Theobald’s inability to watch where he was walking for Barnard’s resisting arrest, all three officers began attacking Barnard. They coated him with  pepper-spray. One officer wedged a knee into his neck while employing a controversial choke-hold.

As a result of the incident Barnard was seriously injured, forced to undergo four spinal fusion surgeries and will most likely spend the rest of his life in constant pain. While the investigation conducted by Metro cleared the officers of any wrongdoing, a federal jury found that the officers had violated Barnard’s civil rights and awarded him $2.1 Million. A judge subsequently reduced the award to $1.6 million, which the  officers appealed, claiming they had “qualified immunity,”

Qualified Immunity shields government officials from civil liability if a reasonable person would not consider their conduct a violation of constitutional rights.  In a 21-page ruling the 9th Circuit Court denied the officers appeal, stating:

“a reasonable officer would have known it violated clearly established law to use a chokehold on a non-resisting arrestee who had surrendered, pepper-spray him and apply such knee pressure on his neck and back that it would cause the collapse of five vertebrae in his cervical spine.”

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Steven Radmanovich

Theobald, the only officer still working with Metro, was one of three officers involved in the February 1, 2012 fatal shooting of 23-year-old Jason Baires. Theobald was shot in the hip during an exchange of gunfire which erupted when officers attempted to arrest Baires for the gruesome murder of his mother’s boyfriend. In 2012 Theobald salary and benefits cost taxpayers $149,342.65.

Radmanovich left Metro and joined the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office in mid 2012. Prior to moving to Winnemucca, Radmanovich cost Clark County taxpayers $97,635.78 in salary and benefits.

‘Cutting Edge Law Enforcement’ — Henderson and North Las Vegas Police Accused of Third Amendment Violations

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house,

without the consent of the Owner,

nor in time of war,

but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

So states, the Third Amendment to the United States Constitution. While violations of this “forgotten” amendment are considered rare, leave it to members of Clark County law enforcement to show us all there isn’t a right protected by the United States Constitution they aren’t willing to violate.

At least that’s what the allegations of the Mitchell family lead us to believe. In a recent federal lawsuit filed by Anthony Mitchell and his parents, Michael and Linda Mitchell, against the Cities of Henderson and North Las Vegas, former Henderson Police Chief Jutta Chambers, NLVPD Chief Joseph Chronister and officers from both departments, the Mitchell’s claim their Third, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated when officers responded to a domestic violence call to a neighboring residence, and demanded entry into Anthony Mitchell’s home in order to gain “a tactical advantage.” Mitchell, preferring not to get involved, denied the police entry.

Former HPD Chief Jutta Chambers

Former HPD Chief Jutta Chambers

The events the  Mitchells’ claim happened next are provided in detail at the Courthouse News Service, and are shocking enough to add Officers David Cawthorn, Christopher Worley and Sgt. Michael Waller to the CCCC’s Officer Hall Of Shame.

The LVMPD Gets Some National Exposure, But Not In a Good Way

The Killing of Trevon Cole by

LVMPD Detective Bryan Yant is

Today’s “Raid of The Day

Rise of the Warrior CopRadley Balko, senior writer and investigative reporter for the Huffington Post, has extensively covered the erosion of our civil liberties at the hands of an increasingly oppressive criminal justice system. He is currently wrapping up work on his new book “Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces.” 

As a prelude to the book’s publication, Balko has been featuring incidents of deadly police aggression he researched for the forthcoming book. Today, Balko took a look at the 2010 killing of Trevon Cole, by Metro’s most famous perjurer, Bryan Yant.

LVMPD's Bryan Yant

LVMPD’s Bryan Yant

Due out in July, but currently available for pre-order, Rise of the Warrior Cop, will take a look at how the implementation of SWAT teams by both the Philadelphia and Los Angeles police departments marked the beginning of a deadly movement by America’s law enforcement away from the friendly public servants of the 1950s to the cops of today who have increasingly come to resemble ground troops who no longer see the American home as the sanctuary our forefathers envisioned, and no longer see themselves in partnership with the community but been conditioned to see the citizens they serve as nothing more than the enemy. The type of police force we saw going door-to-door in Boston in  full combat gear searching homes without a warrant.

Trooper Who Caused Fatal Accident Gets Sweetheart Deal Despite Exceeding State Limit for POT

Nevada’s NRS 484C.430 is A Crappy Law,

If You’re a Stripper,

If You’re a Cop, Well, Not So Much.

The former Nevada Highway Patrol sergeant who caused a fatal three-vehicle accident in 2008 entered into a negotiated plea agreement that will limit his potential prison term to no more than 6 years. Edward Lattin, a 22-year NHP veteran who, as a sergeant supervised a team that investigates fatal crashes, recently entered a guilty plea to a single count of felony reckless driving causing death.

NHPtrooperEdward Lattin

Former NHP Trooper Edward Lattin

The 51-year-old Lattin, who police say had more marijuana in his system than state law permits while driving, was originally indicted under the same controversial Nevada law under which Jessica Williams was convicted following her 2000 accident that left six teenagers dead. The law’s controversy stemmed, in large part, due to the legal issues that allowed the jury to acquit Williams of driving under the influence of a controlled substance while still convicting her of driving with that same prohibited substance in her blood. Although the jurors determined Williams was not impaired, they also found that Williams had more than 2 nanograms of marijuana per milliliter in her blood. Williams’s appeal was upheld by the state Supreme Court which ruled the law did not require the driver to be impaired.

That is what makes Lattin’s plea all the more troubling. Lattin was indicted under NRS 484C.430 based on the testimony by authorities that blood drawn from the off-duty trooper immediately after the fatal crash tested positive for marijuana at a level of 5.6 nanograms per millilitre. Lattin faced up to 20 years in prison if convicted. Section 2 of NRS 484C.430 contains a unique provision.

“A prosecuting attorney shall not dismiss a charge of violating the provisions of subsection 1 in exchange for a plea of guilty…to a lesser charge or for any other reason unless the attorney knows or it is obvious that the charge is not supported by probable cause or cannot be proved at the time of trial. ”

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Assistant District Attorney Bruce Nelson

After announcing the plea agreement in open court, prosecutor Bruce Nelson said the Clark County District Attorney’s office negotiated the case with Lattin because the blood test alone could not prove the former Trooper was impaired at the time of the crash, which seemed a rather odd assertion. Considering Nelson was the prosecutor who had previously convicted Williams under the same statute without proving she was impaired, this can’t be dismissed as simply gaff by prosecutors. It’s seems an obvious case of special treatment.

This plea agreement, which the statute clearly does not allow, will most likely allow Lattin to spend a mere fraction of the time Williams received for each one of her counts despite the facts of the cases being nearly identical. This comes as no surprise considering how Lattin’s case was dealt with in an entirely different manner than Williams from the very beginning.

ying vehicle

Scene from the 2008 Crash caused by Lattin

Williams was placed in custody immediately following her accident and remained at the CCDC through her trial, unable to raise a bond of nearly $1,000,000 per victim. Lattin, on the other hand, was not arrested for nearly a month after his accident, and spent only a few days in jail after a judge set his bond at only $50,000 or about 20 times less than bond was set for the similar counts against Williams after his attorneys argued he deserved consideration because of his job with the NHP. This allowed Lattin’s defense team to request continuance after continuance while the former trooper remained free,, and perhaps that frustration lead Nelson to ignore the law and offer Lattin what essentially is a slap on the wrist.

Lattin, could be sentenced to probation or face one to six years in prison at a sentencing hearing set for June 3 before District Judge Kathleen Delaney.