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Record-setting LV police settlement for 2017 death finalized

Updated July 27, 2020 - 10:06 pm

Officials on Monday approved a $2.2 million settlement in the death of a man who was killed after a struggle with a Metropolitan Police Department officer, the largest settlement in the department’s history.

Members of the Metropolitan Police Committee on Fiscal Affairs unanimously approved the settlement of a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the children of Tashii Brown. Brown died in May 2017 after an encounter with then-Metro officer Kenneth Lopera.

Committee members approved a payment of nearly $930,000. The rest of the $2.2 million settlement will be covered by insurance.

The department came to the settlement agreement in Brown’s case this month after going to mediation. The lawsuit accused Metro of gross negligence and excessive force. Lopera was also a defendant in the case.

Following the vote Monday, Metro released a statement: “The death of (Tashii Brown) in 2017 was a tragic event. This mutually agreed upon settlement between the LVMPD and the children of Mr. (Brown) and his estate, will hopefully bring some measure of closure. The LVMPD has always held the position that the death of Mr. (Brown) rose to the criminal level.

“This is why in June of 2017 the department arrested the involved officer for involuntary manslaughter and oppression under color of office and filed criminal charges with the Clark County District Attorney’s Office. After this event, restrictions were put on the use of neck restraints and training was reinforced on the duty to intervene. Under LVMPD policy, neck restraints can only be used when deadly force would be authorized. While there are still other legal matters pending, this is an important step toward justice in this case.

“LVMPD apologizes to the family of (Tashii Brown) and the Las Vegas community. This incident does not represent the policies or values of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.”

Brown had approached Lopera and his partner inside a Strip casino and said he was being chased, then took off running. Lopera ran after Brown and stunned him with a Taser seven times, punched him repeatedly and placed him in what Lopera described as a rear naked choke. The rear naked choke is not taught or approved by Metro, but it is similar to a department-approved neck hold called the lateral vascular neck restraint.

Metro does not allow any neck hold that restricts breathing.

Lopera thought Brown was trying to steal a truck, according to police.

The former officer’s criminal case was later referred to a grand jury, which opted not to indict him. His case was ultimately dropped.

Had Brown survived, he would not have faced any criminal charges, police have said.

A separate lawsuit filed on behalf of Brown’s mother, Trinita Farmer, is pending in federal court.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter.

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