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Man sues after arrest, dismissed DUI charge: ‘It was a rush to judgment’

Updated June 21, 2024 - 3:19 pm

A man arrested last year on suspicion of committing a fatal DUI, an accusation quickly dropped, has sued Nevada and the trooper who arrested him, alleging that they violated his constitutional rights.

Miguel Parra, 25, of Las Vegas, was arrested on May 5, 2023, after he hit a woman on Summerlin Parkway around 11 p.m. the previous night. The woman died.

Parra did not perform perfectly on field sobriety tests, but he blew a .000 on the breathalyzer, indicating he was not intoxicated with alcohol. Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Michael Kim arrested him on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs, but five days later, the Clark County district attorney’s office dropped the case after it determined there was no evidence he had alcohol or drugs in his system. At the time, he had been facing a charge of DUI resulting in death.

“We believe it was a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights,” Andre Lagomarsino, one of the attorneys who represents Parra, said of the arrest.

“It was a rush to judgment to make an arrest where one didn’t need to be made,” he alleged.

On the night of May 4, authorities received several calls from people concerned about a person on the highway, according to audio provided by Lagomarsino.

“I couldn’t see them until I almost hit them, but they seemed out of it,” said one person, who called at 10:56 p.m. A person who called seven minutes later reported someone walking in the middle of the freeway.

The next call came from Parra, just a minute later at 11:04. He said he had hit someone lying in the street.

The lawsuit said Parra swerved, but was unable to avoid hitting the woman.

Lagomarsino said that although his client hit the woman, it’s not clear he killed her because two prior 911 calls did not mention her lying down. It’s hard to say if she was lying down or if someone else had hit her, he said.

The Nevada Highway Patrol responded. Dashcam video provided by Lagomarsino indicates that Parra said he wasn’t a drinker, then that he’d used alcohol a month before and finally that he’d had a hard lemonade hours before the crash. “I swear to God, one drink,” he said.

An officer had Parra perform field sobriety tests. He passed some of them, but his arrest report said he walked the wrong number of steps and did not walk back on the walk and turn test. It also said he showed a lack of convergence, which is when someone doesn’t cross their eyes while a stimulus is pushed towards the bridge of their nose, that he overestimated the passage of 30 seconds and that he had eyelid tremors.

The suit disputed those results.

Lagomarsino said Parra didn’t follow the instruction to turn around, but that he did walk heel to toe. According to Lagomarsino, an objectively reasonable officer with a .000 breathalyzer test result and a person who was not slurring or intoxicated wouldn’t make the arrest.

Parra couldn’t make the bail that was set, he said, had to pay for an attorney, and was not released until the blood test results came back.

“I don’t know how an objective expert can look at this and say he’s in any way intoxicated,” Lagomarsino said.

At the time of the crash, Nevada Highway Patrol Sergeant Jason Buratczuk told the Review-Journal speed and impairment were not factors.

District Attorney Steven Wolfson said the case was submitted to his office on May 6 but that all the reports had not come at that time. After they found there was no evidence that Parra had alcohol or drugs in his system, that he had not committed a traffic violation and that more blame was assigned to the pedestrian, they decided they should not pursue the case, he said.

The Nevada Highway Patrol declined to comment. Kim could not be reached for comment.

Because of the experience of hitting someone, getting arrested and being briefly incarcerated, Parra had to get counseling, Lagomarsino said.

Despite his ordeal, Parra, who works in private security, wants to become a police officer, said Lagomarsino. “He’s not an anti-police type person,” he said. “He just feels like this is a case where the officer made the wrong decision.”

Contact Noble Brigham at nbrigham@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BrighamNoble on X.

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