Beers wants U.S. commission to review Henderson police's forcible entry

A national commission that monitors and investigates civil rights issues should consider a Henderson case in which police allegedly forced their way into a family’s home to gain “tactical advantage” over the occupant of a neighboring home, according to a Las Vegas city councilman who serves on an advisory board to the group.

Councilman Bob Beers, a member of the Nevada Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, said that “if the allegations are true, they reveal a serious, systemic loss,” of rights enumerated in the Constitution.

The July 2011 incident was detailed in a U.S. District Court lawsuit filed two weeks ago that names five Henderson police officers, the city of Henderson and a former Henderson police chief among defendants.

According to the lawsuit, police were investigating reports of domestic abuse and sought to occupy the home of Anthony Mitchell at 367 Eveningside Ave., saying it would help them gain advantage over the suspect, who was barricaded in his home at 363 Eveningside Ave.

Mitchell refused and police forced their way in, shooting him and his dog with pepperball projectiles, the lawsuit says. The lawsuit also alleges that police harassed and abused Mitchell’s parents, who lived at another house on the street.

After police rummaged through the homes, they arrested Anthony Mitchell and his father and held them in the Henderson Detention Center for nine hours. The case against them, however, was dismissed with prejudice by Henderson Municipal Court. The case against the domestic violence suspect was also dismissed with prejudice.

The Mitchell family alleges the police violated their rights under the Third Amendment, which prohibits the government from forcing citizens to provide shelter or aid in their homes for soldiers.

Beers said the advisory committee, which makes recommendations to the national commission about which cases to include in its regular reports to Congress and the Administration, should consider the Henderson incident.

“The issue is a civil rights issue,” Beers said, adding that if the allegations are true, “the actions of the police department that night violate the constitution and our civil rights.”

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0285 .