A former detention assistant contends she was fired by the Clark County Department of Juvenile Justice Services for complaining about excessive force against a juvenile inmate.
Kisha Norman of Las Vegas filed an employment discrimination lawsuit Thursday against the department and its assistant manager of detention, Patrick Schreiber, who fired her in April 2013.
“Norman was not wanted because she was not part of the racist culture inside DJJS that accepted, condoned and ratified excessive force against juveniles,” the federal lawsuit alleges.
In an email Thursday, spokesman Erik Pappa said the county does not comment on pending litigation.
According to the lawsuit, Norman was hired in March 2012 as a part-time, entry-level juvenile detention assistant.
“It was Norman’s dream job, a foot in the door towards becoming a probation officer for juveniles,” according to a statement from her Reno lawyer, Terri Keyser-Cooper.
In March 2013, Norman was working in the E-2 unit of the detention center when juveniles got into a fight and “bedlam” erupted, according to the lawsuit.
After the juveniles were ordered to get down, according to the document, Norman was ordered to keep them on the floor.
“She complied immediately, working to keep the juveniles on the floor,” the lawsuit states. A probation officer then began using pepper spray on the juveniles.
Norman then watched as two white probation officers, both her superiors, took a black juvenile named “Harbor” down to the floor and handcuffed him, according to the lawsuit.
“She observed Harbor lying face down on his stomach handcuffed behind his back and totally restrained,” the lawsuit alleges. “She also observed one of the two white officers jump on him. One officer put his knee on Harbor’s rear and punched him in the back while the other officer punched Harbor several times in the head.”
Norman, who was a few feet away, watched in horror before announcing, “That is excessive force,” according to the lawsuit.
The officers then stopped punching the juvenile, according to the document.
“Following the incident in which she complained of excessive force she never again worked in the detention facility with juveniles,” according to Norman’s lawsuit.
In early April 2013, Norman was informed that her services were no longer needed. According to her lawsuit, no one told her what she had done to deserve termination.
The document alleges retaliation and a violation of the First Amendment. Norman is seeking unspecified compensatory, economic and punitive damages.
Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at email@example.com or 702-384-8710. Find her on Twitter: @CarriGeer.