A federal grand jury has for months been hearing evidence about an incident involving a Henderson police sergeant caught on video kicking a man in diabetic shock during a traffic stop, the Las Vegas Review-Journal has learned.
Grand jury sessions are secret, and it is unknown what, if any, charges federal prosecutors are seeking against Sgt. Brett Seekatz, who kicked Adam Greene in the head five times during the controversial 2010 incident.
The federal investigation was referenced in an email last week from Las Vegas Police Protective Association director Chris Collins to the union’s nearly 3,000 members. In it, Collins outlined recent changes in the department’s use-of-force hearings and advised officers not to testify if subpoenaed to appear and alluded to a federal investigation stemming from a "high-profile arrest."
"It has come to my attention that the local U.S. Attorney working with Department of Justice Civil Rights prosecutors, has been investigating another department’s officer for alleged criminal conduct arising out of a high-profile arrest," Collins wrote. His union does not represent Henderson officers.
Collins acknowledged that federal authorities routinely review officer-related use-of-force incidents for "potential civil rights violations. The risk that you may be investigated by another law enforcement agency is real and substantial," he wrote.
On Monday, Collins said he wasn’t aware of the grand jury investigation and reiterated the email’s message without specifying a department or an arrest.
Natalie Collins, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said Department of Justice policy does not allow her office to confirm or deny an investigation.
"We can never comment until an individual is charged with a crime and it is made public record," she said.
Lawyer Todd Moody, who represented Greene in a lawsuit against the city of Henderson and the state of Nevada, said his former client had no comment.
"Mr. Greene has not been subpoenaed to testify in any grand jury proceedings," Moody said. "If that changes, we may have further comment later on."
ARRESTED BUT NOT CHARGED
A Nevada Highway Patrol trooper began following Greene about 4 a.m. on Oct. 29, 2010, after noticing his Honda Civic weaving between lanes without headlights on. The trooper suspected Greene, who was on his way to work, was a drunk driver.
Greene didn’t pull over when troopers activated their lights and siren. Henderson officers joined the pursuit, which lasted 14 minutes at speeds sometimes in excess of 80 mph.
Greene stopped at Boulder Highway and Lake Mead Parkway, where a trooper’s dashboard camera recorded officers pulling him from the car and arresting him. Authorities said Greene resisted officers’ efforts to handcuff him.
In the struggle, Henderson officers Douglas Lynaugh and Seth VanBeveren kneed Greene several times, and Seekatz walked up and kicked him in the shoulder, chest and head.
Officers searched Greene after he was handcuffed and discovered that he was carrying insulin for diabetes. He suffered several broken ribs and was treated at the scene by paramedics who later determined that he was suffering from diabetic shock and had no control over his actions. He was released without being jailed or charged with a crime.
The video was made public last February after Greene’s family settled lawsuits against Henderson and the state for almost $300,000.
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson reviewed the case last April and declined to take action against Seekatz. The district attorney said he couldn’t prove malicious intent because Henderson police policies and training allow kicking when trying to arrest someone. He encouraged Henderson police to review their use-of-force policies.
On Monday, Wolfson declined to comment when asked about the federal grand jury.
Nine months after Wolfson’s recommendation, Henderson has made no specific changes to its use-of-force policy, spokesman Keith Paul said Monday.
"Henderson Police officers are trained to use their hands and feet in situations where that kind of force is necessary," Paul said, adding that after the incident, former Police Chief Jutta Chambers "determined the force used was not necessary for the situation."
Chambers announced her retirement two weeks after the video of the incident went public.
Seekatz was disciplined but was not suspended from duty or demoted. He has kept a low profile since the public outrage spurred by the video’s release and a subsequent Review-Journal article revealing a history of complaints about him from citizens. While he remains a sergeant, Seekatz was moved into an administrative role as a supervisor of the property management section.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at email@example.com or 702-380-1039. Contact reporter Mike Blasky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0283.