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A Black man jailed instead of a white male felon with a similar name is suing police

Shane Lee Brown, left, spent six days in jail after police departments in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada, confused him with an older white man who is a felon and shares a similar name.
AP
Shane Lee Brown, left, spent six days in jail after police departments in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada, confused him with an older white man who is a felon and shares a similar name.

Shane Lee Brown is suing the police departments in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nev., and several officers after they jailed him for six days, instead of a white man with a similar name who is taller, nearly twice as old and a convicted felon.

The lawsuit alleges that Shane Lee Brown, a Black man who was 23 years old at the time, was driving home on Jan. 8, 2020, when he was pulled over by Henderson police officers. He did not have his license but provided his name, Social Security number and Social Security card.

The lawsuit says that during the records check, the Henderson Police Department officers "confused" Shane Lee Brown with Shane Neal Brown, a 49-year-old man who is 4 inches taller than Shane Lee Brown, has a beard, and is white.

Shane Neal Brown was first convicted of a felony in 1994, and a warrant was out for his arrest in 2019 for possession of a firearm.

Shane Lee Brown remained in custody for six days, despite repeatedly telling officials he was not the Shane Brown they were looking for. He was released on Jan. 14, 2020.

"Had any of the LVMPD or any corrections officers performed any due diligence ... they would have easily determined that Shane Lee Brown has been misidentified as the subject of the warrant," the lawsuit says.

Shane Lee Brown is suing for negligence, emotional distress, false imprisonment and violation of civil rights and is asking for $500,000 in damages.

In response to the lawsuit, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said it does not provide comment on pending litigation.


A version of this story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.

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