Man sues after he says he was wrongfully jailed in case of mistaken identity

Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 12:43 PM EST
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LAS VEGAS (KTNV) - A Nevada man said police mistook him for a felon and locked him up on a warrant that was meant for another man.

He has filed a federal lawsuit against the police, and his lawyer says this is not an isolated case.

Despite having similar names, the two men are different races and nowhere close in age.

According to Shane Brown, a very basic failure to listen set everything in this case in motion.

During his arrest and the week he spent behind bars, Shane Lee Brown just wanted someone to hear him.

He said he was “begging and pleading with everyone to just listen to me that I’m not this guy that you think I am.”

When Brown was pulled over by Henderson police in January 2020, he figured it was an ordinary traffic stop. He knew he had an issue with his drivers license.

“I just didn’t have my physical license, only had the paper license that you get issued because I lost my wallet,” he said.

He also had an expired registration resulting in a misdemeanor traffic warrant.

“I told officers I did have a court date to get everything settled. It was actually the very next day. I had took time off work to go get everything settled. I had proof of it as well,” Brown said.

But when officers ran his name through their database, “They come back and tell me I’m a felon, and there’s no way I’m a felon,” he said.

Shane Lee Brown is Black. He’s also 25 years old. Shane Neal Brown is 50 years old, a convicted felon and white.

According to a federal lawsuit alleging mistaken identity, that didn’t stop police from arresting the younger Brown and keeping him in jail for nearly a week.

“I was in disbelief. It felt like there’s no way that they’re taking me to jail for a felony charge when I’m not a felon,” Brown said.

He was never charged with any crime despite the initial arrest on a misdemeanor traffic warrant.

He first sat in Henderson jail, then the Clark County Detention Center until a judge ordered him freed.

Brown said he doesn’t feel the police treated him fairly. “I feel like it’s their duty to know who the person is that they’re detaining pretty much, and it wasn’t me,” he said.

“What’s really egregious is that when Brown got out, he Googled this individual on a regular Google search and was able to determine that this gentleman was white, with a beard, blue eyes,” attorney Brent Bryson said.

When he found out, he said he felt “frustration, anger, disappointment. It was just overflow of emotions.”

The city of Henderson says the initial arrest on the traffic charges was legal and proper.

Bryson said even if it was, keeping him in jail was not.

“I don’t know whether the mistake was intentional. I don’t know whether it was negligent. I don’t know if race played a factor. All those things are possible. We don’t know. What we do know is we’re looking for someone to be held accountable,” Bryson said.

He also points out that arrests based on mistaken identity happen more often than you think.

In April 2020, Keyherra Green filed a federal lawsuit against metro and individual officers, claiming she was wrongfully arrested for the murder of a 73-year-old man whose body was found wrapped in plastic in a closet months after his death. In this case, at least both women were similar in age.

But for Brown, “I don’t I don’t know how you confuse a young African American man with a middle-aged white man when the descriptions are so readily available to you. I mean, it’s inexcusable,” Bryson said.

Brown said his experience with police sends an unsettling message to the community.

When Metro was asked for their response to the allegations in the lawsuit, they said they do not comment on pending litigation.

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