Three years after a confrontation between Las Vegas police and a costumed street performer in front of The Venetian spawned a lawsuit, the Police Department has agreed to settle with Zorro for $105,000.
Jason Perez-Morciglio, who performs as Zorro on Las Vegas streets, and his brother, Sebastian Perez-Morciglio, sued in June 2010 after they said Venetian security officers kidnapped and detained them for more than an hour on Jan. 15, 2010, before kicking them off the property. The brothers also alleged that Las Vegas police officers illegally handcuffed and searched them at the resort.
“These security guards handcuffed the brothers, searched their persons and belongings, demanded identification, and photographed them,” the lawsuit documents said.
On Monday, The Metropolitan Police Department’s Fiscal Affairs Committee agreed to pay the brothers $105,000, something that Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, who sits on the committee, thinks was the best option to avoid negative exposure for the department. The potential cost could have been significantly more, Sisolak said.
According to Sisolak, the brothers also settled privately with The Venetian, which was named in the original lawsuit.
For the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, which provided general counsel for the brothers in the lawsuit, the impact of the settlement transcended monetary value.
“The main thing in the case is that it was never about the money. It was about verifying again that the sidewalks in front of the hotels are a public forum, and the people have a right to First Amendment activity there,” said Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel for the ACLU of Nevada.
According to Sisolak, accompanying the settlement was what he called a clearer and more definitive policy on how officers will handle street performers on the public sidewalks.
“We’re glad this one is done with,” Lichtenstein said. “Hopefully they will understand that people have the right to a freedom of speech.”
Contact reporter Colton Lochhead at email@example.com or 702-383-0264.