U.S. District Judge Jennifer Dorsey on Wednesday began deliberating the fate of a Clark County School District police officer accused of using excessive force.
James Lescinsky, 45, who waived his right to a jury trial, is accused of assaulting a student and a staffer during a May 2015 confrontation at a North Las Vegas disciplinary school and then covering up his actions.
He is charged with striking a 15-year-old girl and a female maintenance worker at the Jeffrey Behavior Junior/Senior High School with his police baton and falsifying reports of the altercation.
After closing arguments, Dorsey said she would issue her verdict from the bench on Friday.
Dana Mulhauser, a trial attorney with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., told Dorsey the government proved during the trial that Lescinsky’s conduct violated the law and was contrary to his years of training.
“Make no mistake, the defendant knew what he did was wrong, and he did it anyway,” Mulhauser said. “He struck first and asked questions later.”
She argued that Lescinsky should have tried other less aggressive measures to break apart the student and the maintenance worker in the school lunchroom before using the baton.
Lescinsky also broke the community’s trust when he lied about his actions to his immediate supervisor and then in his official reports, Mulhauser said.
His version of the facts presented during the trial were “not truthful and not based in reality,” she said.
Defense lawyer Jack Campbell attacked the credibility of the government’s witnesses, arguing that their accounts of what happened in the lunchroom were inconsistent.
“Your honor, this case is a sieve of reasonable doubt,” Campbell said. “The hypocrisy demonstrated by the prosecution in this case is maddening.”
The maintenance worker, Tarika Rushing, testified earlier in the week that Lescinsky without warning struck her left hand with the baton as she was trying to calm the student, who had been pulled away from a fight with another girl. Rushing said the baton broke one of her fingers.
But Campbell argued that school video surveillance tapes and witnesses presented by both the government and defense showed that Lescinsky came into the lunchroom seeing a heated altercation between the student and the maintenance worker.
He chastised the government for not calling the student to the witness stand to hear her version of the events.
Campbell also said it was “insulting” for the government to allege that Lescinsky, with 25 years in law enforcement, would lie to his supervisors.
He asked Dorsey to remove “this cloud over Jim Lescinsky’s name.”
Contact Jeff German at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-8135. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter.