Las Vegas Sun

July 30, 2014

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Jury rules for NLV officers in lawsuit over traffic stop

A jury has ruled in favor of three North Las Vegas Police officers who had been accused of illegally searching a man's car after racially profiling him.

According to the lawsuit, filed in April 2002, Roosevelt Johnson was driving south on Martin Luther King Boulevard near Craig Road on Feb. 23, 2002, when he was pulled over and ordered out of his Nissan Altima by Officers Mario Noriega, Randy Laswell and Robert Kryszczuk.

Johnson, who was 56 at the time of the traffic stop, alleged in the suit that the officers pointed their guns at him and handcuffed him because he was black. The officers then searched Johnson's car and wallet and did not explain to him why he had been pulled over.

Police later said Johnson's car matched the description of a car used by a a man who was seen chasing people with gun in the parking lot of a nearby shopping center.

The racial profiling claim was dismissed by a federal judge, leaving only the illegal search claim that was decided by the jury on Monday after a one-day trial.

Police officials said the traffic stop took 2 1/2 minutes and when it was determined that he was not the suspect Johnson was released.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada had joined Johnson in his lawsuit. Johnson had sought an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages, saying he suffered "emotional injuries including but not limited to severe embarrassment, humiliation and fear for his life."

The lawsuit further alleged that North Las Vegas Police failed to properly train and discipline officers, leading to a tolerance for detaining, arresting and searching citizens without reasonable suspicion, and based solely on race or ethnicity.

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