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Civil rights suit filed over Las Vegas officer’s fatal neck hold

Updated July 18, 2017 - 5:21 pm

A federal civil rights lawsuit was filed Tuesday on behalf of the children of a man who died while being restrained by a Las Vegas police officer.

The lawsuit accuses the Metropolitan Police Department of excessive force and gross negligence.

Tashii Brown, 40, died in May after a struggle with officer Kenneth Lopera, who stunned Brown with a Taser seven times and held him in an unauthorized neck restraint for more than a minute. Lopera and the department are listed as defendants.

The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas on behalf of Brown’s two children, who live in Hawaii, and seeks damages for Brown’s medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of economic support for the children.

It alleges that Lopera used excessive force in violation of Brown’s civil rights. The department failed to properly train its officers on the dangers of chokeholds and on recognizing the signs of mental disorders, it said.

“The issue here is whether there’s any chokehold that should be permitted,” Los Angeles attorney Federico Sayre said. He is working with Callister Law Group in Las Vegas to represent Brown’s children.

Sayre, a well-known civil rights attorney in Southern California, previously won a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department for his client, Rodney King.

Metro did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit related to Brown’s death.

Police said Brown, who at times also used his mother’s surname of Farmer, initially approached two uniformed officers about 1 a.m. on May 14 inside The Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South. Police said he was acting erratic and paranoid at the time and told officers people were chasing him.

The Clark County coroner’s office has said Brown died from asphyxia due to police restraint procedures, with methamphetamine intoxication and an enlarged heart as significant contributing factors.

Lopera, 31, is facing felony charges of involuntary manslaughter and oppression under the color of office in connection with Brown’s death. Both charges carry sentences of one to four years in prison.

Contact Wesley Juhl at wjuhl@reviewjournal.com and 702-383-0391. Follow @WesJuhl on Twitter.

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