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Family of man killed by Las Vegas police settles for $2.3M

Updated January 25, 2022 - 5:46 pm

The family of a man killed while in police custody received a settlement of $2.38 million Monday, including $1.89 million from Las Vegas police.

Nicholas Farah, 36, of Appleton, Wisconsin, died March 31, 2019, at the Clark County Detention Center after four Metropolitan Police Department officers held his head to his knees for about 75 seconds while exchanging his handcuffs, Metro said in a briefing at the time.

“It was very clear that the Las Vegas Metro Police Department acted belligerently and monstrously towards my brother,” Eric Farah wrote in a statement Monday. “Even today, the restraint chair is still commonly used as a weapon inside Clark County Detention Center and nationwide. I’d love to see the restraint chair completely removed (something LVMPD strongly opposes), along with measures and precautions put into effect so this never happens to another family.”

The Clark County coroner’s office ruled that Nicholas Farah died from asphyxia during restraining procedures, with other significant conditions listed as methamphetamine intoxication and obesity. His death was ruled a homicide.

The Metropolitan Police Committee on Fiscal Affairs committee met Monday and approved a payment of $1.89 million. Insurance will pay the remaining $490,000.

Family attorney Sarah Grady wrote in Monday’s statement that the settlement will go to his two daughters, who she said will never receive closure.

“They will live out the rest of their lives wondering and mourning what might have been had the officers responded professionally to the mental crisis their dad was enduring on that fateful day in 2019,” Grady wrote.

Metro declined a request for comment and no public comments were made during Monday’s meeting regarding the settlement.

Farah was initially arrested at a La Quinta motel, 4975 S. Valley View Blvd., when management said he was acting strangely, calling cabs and refusing them when they arrived, police said.

Once at the jail, police said Farah “became combative,” so officers sat him in a restraint chair. Metro policy prohibits officers from activating body cameras inside the jail, but stationary video was released in the days after the killing.

Farah appeared distressed in the video. He looked over toward the camera before officers pushed his head down toward his knees, the video showed. A few shouts could be heard before he went quiet. Farah didn’t appear to move once officers sat him back up.

Police continued to fasten him to the chair for several more seconds until they finished and turned the chair around, stationary camera footage showed. A medical staffer standing nearby then noticed he wasn’t breathing, and officers worked to remove him from the chair.

In 2019, then-Sgts. Samuel Mendoza and Richard Newman and officers Aaron Mosley and Jeremy Stewart were placed on administrative leave. In 2020, District Attorney Steve Wolfson determined that the officers would not be charged in the case. Since then, both sergeants remained employed with the department, while Metro confirmed Tuesday that Moseley and Stewart had since left.

“Because the conduct was both legal and within policy at the time, the conduct of the officers does not fall within the state criminal statutes,” Wolfson wrote in a final determination on the case.

The largest settlement awarded by the fiscal affairs committee came in March, when Metro agreed to pay $3 million of $14.5 million owed to the family of DeMarlo Berry, a man who was wrongfully convicted of murder and imprisoned for more than two decades. Clark County paid Berry $1.5 million and another $10 million was paid by the department’s insurance.

The family of Tashii Brown settled with Metro for $2.2 million, including $930,000 paid by the department.

A month after Brown was stunned with a Taser seven times, punched repeatedly and placed in the chokehold, officer Kenneth Lopera was charged with involuntary manslaughter. The case was taken to a grand jury, which declined to indict him. Lopera’s case was ultimately dropped.

In June of 2020 Metro prohibited Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint in any instance that was not life-threatening. The department said the decision was not associated with any specific case.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

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