Henderson police should come clean on beating video


Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen expressed remorse Thursday over injuries caused to the unresisting Adam Greene, who was in diabetic shock when city police beat and kicked him during a traffic stop in October 2010.

It was the first public comment on the incident by anyone on the City Council since it approved a $158,000 settlement with Mr. Greene, 38, on Tuesday.

The traffic stop was videotaped by a Nevada Highway Patrol dashboard camera. That tape, which was released by Mr. Greene's lawyer on Tuesday, showed police Sgt. Brett Seekatz kicking Mr. Greene in the head five times and another officer kneeing the man -- who had already been handcuffed -- in the midsection four times, breaking his ribs. Highway Patrol troopers did not appear to hit or kick Mr. Greene.

Mr. Greene suffered broken ribs and bruises. The city attorney approved a $99,000 settlement with Greene's wife -- a sum just under the $100,000 that would have required the City Council's approval. The state agreed to pay Mr. Greene $35,000, for a total settlement of $292,500.

Officials wouldn't specify how or if Sgt. Seekatz was disciplined over the incident, saying the information is a personnel matter and will not be released. He remains a sergeant.

"Henderson Police Chief Jutta Chambers ordered a closer look at the training Henderson officers receive," according to a prepared statement. "The training on use of force techniques was subsequently modified."

And now everything is hunky-dory?

Wrong.

This incident took place nearly a year and a half ago. Yet the public learned nothing about it until this week -- and then only from Mr. Greene's attorney. What if he'd kept silent? What would the public know today? Nothing. Henderson officials are suddenly sorry today -- 16 months after this abomination -- only because they were outed.

The only named culprit is still a sergeant, retaining all his rank and accrued seniority? The city won't even detail what his discipline was?

Chief Chambers should have held a news conference a year ago, making a clean breast of this incident as soon as details were known, promising a public investigation, firings if appropriate, and reform. The discipline of Sgt. Seekatz is not a confidential personnel matter -- it has nothing to do with his health or domestic affairs. Rather, full disclosure of how he was punished is vital if Henderson police hope to maintain public respect. And why weren't the other officers involved similarly identified, along with the nature of their discipline?

Henderson police -- and the elected officials to whom they answer -- have a lot to learn from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which under its most recent three sheriffs has made great strides in coming clean on controversial matters instead of sweeping them under the rug.

Right now, all across the nation, a new police-beating video is going viral, and would-be tourists are adding "Henderson, Nevada" to the list of places they're promising themselves never to go. Henderson's silent police chief and elected officials have a long way to go to restore some semblance of public confidence.

Instead, they're patting themselves on the back, congratulating each other for implementing new training techniques.

 

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