Updated June 17, 2020 - 6:14 pm
North Las Vegas police released body camera footage from Saturday night’s protest on the Strip and called an attorney’s claim that she was thrown to the ground by officers “unfounded.”
Belinda Harris, a chief deputy public defender and candidate for judge in North Las Vegas, said in a Facebook post Sunday morning that Las Vegas and North Las Vegas police threw her to the ground while she was monitoring protesters Saturday night and serving as a legal observer. In the post, Harris said she told officers she was a breast cancer survivor and had asked police “not to be so rough.”
Harris was among seven of the 15 legal observers working who were detained by police.
The arrests of legal observers prompted Gov. Steve Sisolak to call for an investigation, and the North Las Vegas Police Department vowed to review the body camera footage.
Video released Tuesday evening by the department showed Harris’ arrest. In an accompanying statement, North Las Vegas police Chief Pamela Ojeda said it proves the claim to be “unfounded.”
“We take allegations of improper conduct extremely seriously and a thorough investigation showed that our police officers acted professionally and courteously, as we train and our department requires,” she said. “The body worn camera footage contradicts all false claims of rough or rude treatment; in fact, it shows our officers treating the woman gently and respectfully.”
Officers can be seen in the video putting Harris in a zip tie after approaching her on the sidewalk. An officer walks her to a dirt median where she is seated among a line of others who were detained.
Harris complains later in the 10-minute video that the zip tie is too tight, and officers ask her to wait a moment for new zip ties. While replacing her zip ties an officer asks her to lift her elbows while her hands are restrained behind her back, at which time Harris tells officers she has breast cancer.
Harris stands with her elbows bent behind her for the next 45 seconds while officers replace her zip ties, after which an officer directs her to sit back down on the ground.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo spoke Tuesday afternoon regarding the arrest of legal observers, arguing several of them had been “antagonizing” police.
Harris released a statement Tuesday night on Facebook following the videos and said they prove her statement’s validity.
“I sincerely hope that this is not Sheriff Lombardo’s idea of officers ‘showing great care and restraint in the face of incredible conflict.’
LVMPD and NLVPD, together, singled us out and came after us for absolutely no reason. We were alone on a sidewalk. Not engaged in some ‘incredible conflict.’ This was not the officers showing ‘great care and restraint.’”
She and the other legal observers are expected to release their footage during a press conference Thursday.
“What is worse is that, just as they targeted me then, they continue to target me now,” the post read. “Interestingly, Sheriff Lombardo decided to release the footage of me, a black woman legal observer, being arrested instead of footage showing the arrest of my white colleagues.”