A federal agent filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Henderson Police Department and three officers, alleging they roughed him up last year after a game of pool in a downtown tavern became heated.
According to court documents filed by attorney Cal Potter, Brad Hare was playing pool at the Gold Mine Tavern on Aug. 13, 2007, when he and his opponent became engaged in a "spirited debate."
His opponent told Hare that he had connections to Henderson police and could have him arrested.
At 1:30 a.m., three on-duty officers entered the bar and, without asking Hare or the bartender about the dispute, "violently lifted Mr. Hare off (the) ground and slammed Mr. Hare on the center of the pool table," according to the lawsuit.
The officers are accused of dragging Hare out of the bar in a "pain-compliance arm-bar hold," throwing him on the hood of a sport utility vehicle, searching him and asking for his identification. One officer accused Hare of attempting to spit on him. Hare informed them he worked for a federal law enforcement agency.
"Hare then told the Henderson police officers that what they were doing was very wrong," the lawsuit says.
At that point, the officers left Hare injured in the alley behind Water Street, Potter said. Hare suffered bruises on his ribs, face and arms when he was tossed against the vehicle, Potter said.
Keith Paul, spokesman for the Henderson Police Department, said the department had not been served with a lawsuit and therefore could not comment. City Attorney Shauna Hughes was out of the office Wednesday.
As a result of the incident, Hare was unable to work and suffered mental anguish, the lawsuit says. He is seeking a judgment to exceed $1 million.
Potter said Hare did not immediately show the officers his law enforcement badge because that goes against agency policy. Potter refused to disclose the agency, saying his client's position is covert.
"You aren't supposed to tell people they're an agent," Potter said. "There are a couple of people who use the influence of their badge to get through things."
Potter said neither he nor Hare knows the names of the officers involved and the Police Department has not been cooperative. Potter filed an internal affairs complaint shortly after the incident, but has received no report back from Henderson.
"Our client brought his case to internal affairs at Henderson P.D. and was blown off," said Gary Peck, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, which is also representing Hare. "That's a problem. You need to be serious about investigating allegations of misconduct, so you know when police officers misbehave, they are held accountable."
The lawsuit claims that Henderson Police supervisors are failing to properly train its officers in use of force tactics and procedures.
"This case may well be a part of a broader pattern and practice that is of real concern to us," Peck said.