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Kirstin Blaise Lobato Freed After 15 Years in Prison for Las Vegas Murder Prosecutors Knew She Couldn’t Have Committed

Wrongful Murder Conviction Overturned Kirstin Blaise Lobato

In spite of evidence of her innocence, the Clark County DA’s Office did everything they could to prevent Kirstin Blaise Lobato from being freed after over 15 years in prison for a murder she didn’t commit.

After spending her entire adult life in prison for a murder she didn’t commit, a Las Vegas woman has finally been released. Kristin Blaise Lobato spent over 15 years behind bars in spite of evidence that she was over 150 miles away at the time the killing took place. However, she was finally able to walk out of the Clark County Detention Center a free woman for the first time since she was 18 years old on January 3rd.

Meanwhile, even after a judge had declared her innocent and ordered her release, prosecutors with the Clark County District Attorney’s Office refused to acknowledge the improprieties carried out during her trial(s). In fact, they even briefly had plans to force her to spend another year in the county jail for having been caught having sex with another inmate during the time that she was wrongfully imprisoned.

Fortunately, Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez also dismissed that case, instead ruling that the time she had already spent in prison for a crime she didn’t commit was sufficient punishment for that as well and giving her credit for time served. Judge Gonzalez then ordered that Lobato be released from custody immediately.

Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.

District Attorney Steve Wolfson and Chief Deputy District Attorney Sandra DiGiacomo have attempted to justify their efforts to keep an innocent woman in prison by contending that the fact she was found guilty at trial by two juries means she is. However, the case against Lobato was very much flawed from the start and those verdicts were more a product of what was kept from the juries than the strength of the evidence actually presented to them.

Kirstin Blaise Lobato Released From Prison

There was virtually no physical evidence tying Lobato to the murder of Duran Bailey, a homeless man who was found beaten to death and castrated in a Downtown Las Vegas dumpster in 2001. The only real justification for her to even be a suspect was a story that she told to several people that she had fended off a rape attempt by cutting her attacker’s penis with a knife.

She had told that story weeks prior to the murder, though, and had identified the location where that incident happened as a different area of town. In spite of that, police investigators characterized her description of stabbing a man attempting to sexually assault her in the groin during an interrogation as a confession of Bailey’s murder.

More importantly, Lobato was positively verified to have been at her parents’ house in Panaca, Nevada, nearly 200 miles from Las Vegas on July 8, when Bailey was murdered. Based on that and other inconsistencies in the physical evidence, experts brought in by her defense attorneys testified that it would have been impossible for her to have carried out the murder.

However, that testimony was suppressed by Judge Valorie Vega during the original trial. Meanwhile, the prosecution was allowed to present a expert witnesses that made the ridiculous claim that flies in Las Vegas act completely different than flies anywhere else in the world do.

In addition, the district attorney’s office actively fought to prevent additional DNA testing on the physical evidence recovered at the scene, even after the Innocence Project offered to pay any costs involved. All previous DNA testing had excluded Lobato and, due to the violent method of Bailey’s death, it’s unlikely the person who murdered him could have done so without leaving their own DNA behind (such evidence from an unknown source was in fact found).

Of course, if Lobato was guilty those tests would more than likely definitively prove she was present at the crime scene. So realistically the district attorneys should have had their own incentive to cooperate with the DNA tests.

Regardless of that, Judge Vega ruled against allowing the testing. Shortly after, Vega chose not to run for reelection following an (unrelated) official reprimand against her by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline. In what’s probably not a coincidence, almost exactly three years after Judge Vega left the bench Kristin Blaise Lobato walked out of the front door of the Clark County Detention Center.

Background on the Case and False Convictions

Not Surprisingly, this isn’t the first time Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson and his underlings at the DA’s office have gone to great lengths to keep someone who was obviously innocent in prison. Not too long ago, I reported on the case of Demarlo Berry, who was falsely convicted of murder based on testimony from a witness that was coached and paid off by detectives from the LVMPD.

Not only were the prosecutors in the case complicit in manufacturing evidence against Berry, they also delayed his release for four years after that witness recanted his testimony and the real murderer had confessed. Then, once they finally realized that they couldn’t prevent his release, they portrayed it as if they were responsible for freeing him.

In another case, Fred Steese was issued a pardon last month in order to clear his record of a murder he was falsely convicted of and spent twenty-one years in prison for after he was beaten and coerced into confessing. Prosecutors also hid evidence that definitively proved he was in another state at the time and photo lineup results that pointed to his innocence.

Instead of releasing him after he was declared “actually innocent” by a judge, they threatened to refile the charges and drag out the process coercing Steese into accepting a plea deal for second degree murder to ensure he wouldn’t have to stay in prison for years while fighting those new charges.

Numerous other convictions in Clark County have been overturned recently, including several death penalty cases, due to racial discrimination by prosecutors during jury selection. Obviously, for Wolfson and his prosecutors the important issue isn’t guilt or innocence, but rather simply whether they can get a conviction, even if it they know it’s a false conviction.

Related Posts on Nevada Cop Block

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Wife of Henderson Police Lieutenant Arrested For Forgery, Stealing From Las Vegas College, and Drug Charges

Apparently, while Lieutenant John DeVaney of the Henderson (Nevada) Police Department’s Corrections Division was out throwing drug addicts and thieves in a cage his wife was at home trying to see how she could stretch their meager budget of just under $220,000 to accommodate her own drug habit.

Seems like Heidi DeVaney came up with a solution for that problem back in April when she got a job with the College of Southern Nevada, a local community college and then started going the extra mile by stealing and forging checks in order to make ends meet with their limited income.

Unfortunately for her, it looks like someone forgot to tell the CSN police that her husband has one of those Magic Suits and they arrested her. She was fortunate in one respect, though. They took her to the Downtown Las Vegas jail and not the Henderson jail where her hubby works. Cuz that woulda been awkward for everyone.

Via the Las Vegas Review Journal:

The wife of a Henderson police lieutenant was arrested on forgery and theft charges Wednesday in her College of Southern Nevada office.

Spokeswoman K.C. Brekken said CSN police arrested Heidi B. DeVaney, 50, at the college’s campus on West Charleston Boulevard. DeVaney was being held Thursday at the Clark County Detention Center.

Her husband, John C. DeVaney, is a corrections lieutenant with the Henderson Police Department and in 2015 made total salary and benefits of $219,455, according to Transparent Nevada. A Henderson spokeswoman declined to comment Thursday.

Brekken said Heidi DeVaney was hired April 4 as a “temporary classified employee” in the role of an administrative assistant II at the community college. Her annual base salary was $31,090, and her last day of employment was Wednesday, the spokeswoman said.

Officials said Heidi DeVaney’s arrest report was not available Thursday. Jail records show her charges include burglary, petit larceny and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia.

You know the old saying about Bad Apples not falling far from the tree.

Of course, I’ll guarantee you right now that she’ll still qualify for the Policeman’s Discount and unlike other people that commit crimes to support a drug habit, we’ll be told how tragic the situation is how much she needs help. Then she’ll get a very small slap on the wrist, at worst.

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Head of LVMPD Internal Affairs Ordered to Answer Perjury/Withholding Evidence Charges in Court

Via a public Facebook post (embedded below) Stephen Stubbs released an order from Justice of the Peace Anne Zimmerman stating that Lt. Yasenia Yatomi must appear in her court to answer contempt charges for having committed perjury and withholding evidence that would have shown that perjurious testimony to have been false.

The full order from Judge Zimmerman reads:

“Now Therefore, Lieutenant Yesenia Yatomi is hereby ordered to appear on August 9, 2016 at 9:30am in Las Vegas Justice Court, Department 8, 200 Lewis Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89101 to show cause why she shouldn’t be held in contempt of court for her perjurious trial testimony and withholding of exculpatory evidence.”

The charges stem from an incident in which Lieutenant Yatomi arrested Stubbs for refusing to leave the side of a person who was being questioned by then-Sergeant Yatomi and the LVMPD Gang Unit and whom had requested that Stubbs represent him as his lawyer. (See video embedded below.) Later, she made false sworn statements within charging documents that were sent to the District Attorney’s Office to justify the filing of criminal charges against him. That original arrest report was revealed during discovery for a civil case resulting from those false charges.

In addition, she withheld the original arrest report, which accurately described the incident and her unconstitutional reasons for arresting Stubbs, from the DA. Once the case went to court, Judge Goodman found Stubbs not guilty without even requiring him to present a defense, because the case was so obviously based on lies. Subsequently, Judge Goodman recused himself from the perjury case while stating that he had such a negative opinion of Yatomi based on that previous case that there is no way he could be fair and impartial toward her.

As is also pointed out in the Facebook post, Yatomi was recently promoted and named the head of the Internal Affairs Bureau for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, in spite of the fact she had already been exposed as a liar in open court and was potentially facing these perjury charges. The LVMPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau is the department assigned to investigate police officer accused of misconduct or criminal acts, such as perjuring themselves in court and/or withholding evidence, for example. (See second video embedded below.)

(See the “related posts” section below for links to these and other stories involving or relating to Stephen Stubbs posted on the CopBlock Network previously.)

Note: Within the comments on this FB post Stubbs is asked about the nature of the charges:

Question: I thought perjury was a felony, not contempt of court
Stephen Stubbs: Contempt is a civil remedy in the court that the perjury was committed in. There is also a criminal remedy, and yes, it is a felony.

It’s not actually clear from that exchange whether these charges are just being prosecuted by the court as contempt and not as a felony or if Lt. Yatomi could also potentially face felony charges for perjury afterwards as well.

Original Arrest Video

Lt. Yatomi is Promoted and Put in Charge of Internal Affairs

Related Posts Submitted By or About Stephen Stubbs:

Stephen-Stubbs-CopBlockThose of you that have followed NVCopBlock.org over the past several years are probably already aware that Stephen Stubbs is a frequent contributor of submissions to the Cop Block Network. He often represents bikers and motorcycle organizations, whom are frequent targets of harassment from the police. In addition, I have personally worked with Stephen on a somewhat regular basis through Nevada Cop Block on issues or cases within the Las Vegas area.

Therefore, there is a pretty lengthy (and growing) list of posts on Cop Block involving Stephen Stubbs, his clients, and/or people or groups he is associated with. Included below are links to those posts.

  1. Head of LVMPD Internal Affairs Accused of Perjury; Judge Recused Self Due to “Negative Opinion” of Her
  2. Las Vegas Attorney Stephen Stubbs: “Stand Up and Tell the Truth” – Why #PoliceLiesMatter
  3. Man Beaten by Las Vegas Police For Not Moving Fast Enough Awarded $31,500 Settlement
  4. Full Waco Twin Peaks Biker Shooting Videos; Witness Statement Made Public
  5. Know Your Rights Seminar At Las Vegas “Rally For Your Rights”
  6. Waco, TX; Twin Peaks Shootings Arrests – June 10th Call Flood
  7. Nevada Police Chief Resigns After Protecting Animal Shelter Supervisor Who Killed Pets
  8. Fired NV Police Chief Ordered to Pay Punitive Damages in Abuse of Authority Lawsuit
  9. Las Vegas Attorney Stephen Stubbs Found Not Guilty in 5th Amendment Right to Counsel Case
  10. Game Over for Insert Coins’ and Their Abusive Bouncers
  11. Dance, Dance Revolution Protest at Insert Coins Las Vegas- Feb. 26, 2015
  12. Insert Coin(s) Las Vegas Bouncers Beat Man and Obstruct Witness Trying to Film
  13. Las Vegas Police Promise “Fundamental Policy Changes” after Dominic Gennarino Beating
  14. Las Vegas Police Beat a Man for “Not Moving Fast Enough”
  15. Las Vegas Police Agree That You Should Film Them
  16. Free Know Your Rights Seminar in Las Vegas
  17. Attorney Stephen Stubbs Arrested for Refusing to Leave His Client’s Side
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Four Days in a Las Vegas Jail for Protesting Government Murder by Drones

The following post was originally posted at the blog “Dissident Voice” under the title, “My Visit to a Las Vegas Jail” by Brian Terrell.

It describes the experience Terrell had dealing with the Las Vegas “justice” system after having been arrested during an anti-drone protest at Creech Air Force Base, which is located just north of Las Vegas and from where most of the drones murdering people in the Middle East are controlled remotely.

Although it is rather long, it is well worth reading as it makes many important points about the nature of the court system and the way that the courts have essentially become a giant ATM machine for the government.

Previously, I have written about these issues in relation to the Las Vegas courts. Those posts can be found here, here, and here.

“My Visit to a Las Vegas Jail”

“What happened to us was a shakedown by gangsters wearing police uniforms and judges’ robes, not for the sake of justice, but to maintain the civic infrastructure behind the glittering façade of Las Vegas with dollars squeezed out of its poorest citizens.”

“The degree of civilization in a society,” wrote the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, “can be judged by entering its prisons.” As a frequent visitor to Nevada in recent years, I have often been surprised by the cultural diversity and spiritual richness that can be found in Las Vegas. Still, I think that Dostoyevsky was right. A more accurate assessment of the degree of civilization in Las Vegas and for the broader society that the city claims to be “The Entertainment Capital” of can be made by entering the cells of the Clark County Correctional Center than by going to the top of the Stratosphere, cruising the Strip or even by taking in a Cirque du Soleil show.

I was one of twenty five arrested by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police at Creech Air Force Base, the center of drone assassination by the US Air Force and the CIA some forty miles northwest of the city on March 31 and April 1. “Shut Down Creech” was a weeklong convergence of activists from around the country. Most of us staying in tents at a makeshift “Camp Justice” in the desert across the highway from the base, our days of discussion, study, song, reflection and strategizing built up to a dramatic series of coordinated actions, including street theater and blockades, that disrupted the lethal business as usual of Creech. While we expected to be arrested, this was not our desire or our goal. Once again, the police arrested the wrong people as they abetted the criminals and took those who acted to stop a crime in progress down town to be booked.

Since 2009, I have had at least two other trips on the police from Creech to the county jail at the prestigious address, 330 S Casino Center Blvd in Las Vegas, to undergo the tedious process of booking, the fingerprinting, mugshots and other indignities before getting kicked out onto the sidewalk a few long hours later. This time, however, after my friends and comrades were released one by one, I remained behind. I was kept in jail for the next four days, not for my part in the day’s protest, but on a bench warrant due to an unpaid traffic fine.

I had been arrested a year before at another protest at Creech and cited for the misdemeanor crime of impeding traffic and released with 30 some others on our promise to return for trial. Some weeks later, the charges on ten of us were reduced to the traffic offence of “pedestrian soliciting a ride or business on a roadway” and we were assessed a $98 fine with no apparent way to plead not guilty. While those who eventually went to trial on the original charges were found not guilty or had their charges dismissed, those of us in the “hitchhikers’ club” all failed in our various attempts to have our cases heard. “How can I contest this ticket?” I asked the clerk at the Justice (sic) Court in Las Vegas. “You don’t contest it,” was the answer, “you PAY it.” In Las Vegas, it is easier to plead not guilty to a violent felony than it is to contest a traffic ticket.

Pay The Fine Las Vegas CourtIn due course I got a glossy postcard in the mail with a color photo of a perp getting handcuffed against a Metropolitan Police squad car, with the clever warning “Pay the Ticket, Avoid the Click-it.” This image, that can also be found on the court’s website, came with this threat: “The Las Vegas Township Justice Court will issue arrest warrants for all unpaid traffic tickets. An additional warrant fee of $150 and a late fee of $100 will be added to all tickets that proceed into warrant status. In addition to warrant fees and penalties, all unpaid traffic tickets will be reported to national credit reporting agencies.” A search of my case on the court’s website showed that I had been charged to pay for my own warrant and another “compliance fee,” apparently to pay for my account getting referred to a collection agency, bringing my bill up to $348.

These mounting fines and lack of access to the courts and the calls that started to come from a collection agency were a small annoyance to me, but are an indication of a larger systemic problem. The Las Vegas Justice Court Mission Statement (“The vision of the Las Vegas Justice Court is to maximize access to Justice, in order to achieve the highest possible level of Public Trust and Confidence”) notwithstanding, these practices and those like them in courts around the country are illegal.

A March 16, 2016, “Dear Colleague” letter from the Office for Access to Justice of the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, addressed to state and local courts lays it out:

Recent years have seen increased attention on the illegal enforcement of fines and fees in certain jurisdictions around the country—often with respect to individuals accused of misdemeanors, quasi-criminal ordinance violations, or civil infractions. Typically, courts do not sentence defendants to incarceration in these cases; monetary fines are the norm.  Yet the harm caused by unlawful practices in these jurisdictions can be profound.  Individuals may confront escalating debt; face repeated, unnecessary incarceration for nonpayment despite posing no danger to the community; lose their jobs; and become trapped in cycles of poverty that can be nearly impossible to escape.  Furthermore, in addition to being unlawful, to the extent that these practices are geared not toward addressing public safety, but rather toward raising revenue, they can cast doubt on the impartiality of the tribunal and erode trust between local governments and their constituents.

This letter cites a Supreme Court ruling that the due process and equal protection principles of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibit “punishing a person for his poverty” and further insists that:

The use of arrest warrants as a means of debt collection, rather than in response to public safety needs, creates unnecessary risk that individuals’ constitutional rights will be violated.  Warrants must not be issued for failure to pay without providing adequate notice to a defendant, a hearing where the defendant’s ability to pay is assessed, and other basic procedural protections.  …  When people are arrested and detained on these warrants, the result is an unconstitutional deprivation of liberty.

Somehow, the memo did not make it to Las Vegas. While the statistics are not available, during that long weekend I was not the only inmate in the Clark County jail locked up solely for not paying fines on minor offenses.

The deplorable conditions and cruelties of this jail defy exaggeration and are as extravagant as the floor shows at the city’s casinos and hotels. It was more than eight hours after getting arrested that I was finally taken out of shackles. We were packed standing room only, more than forty people in a small cell those first hours in chains.

Not long after I arrived, as a guard opened the door to push in yet another prisoner, a very slight young man edged his way to the front and tried desperately to explain that he was suffering an anxiety attack and needed air. Not listening, the guard tried to slam the door on this young man who stepped forward into the door jamb. The guard then grabbed the young man, threw him down onto the hallway floor and even though his hands were shackled at his waist and he could not hit back, at least five guards, all larger than him, all had their knees on his body and were pummeling him with their fists. The last I saw of him, his face was bloodied and he was being wheeled away, his wrists and ankles chained to a restraint chair. This was the jailers’ response to a normal human reaction to an inhuman situation and those suffering from mental illness or the effects of withdrawal were treated no less harshly.

Like some bizarre board game, we prisoners were inexplicably moved from cell to crowded cell at all hours. Sometimes a prisoner would only just arrive before their name was called for another move. Sometimes the guards went from cell to cell shouting a name of someone they had somehow misplaced. Some of our cell mates insisted that they had been in the same place for many days and worried that they had been lost as well. Guards were constantly giving contradictory and erroneous “information,” such as when we would get to court or be moved to more spacious and comfortable quarters upstairs. Some of the guards, not restrained by their own lack of credentials, were generously distributing legal advice to those preparing to see a judge. I found out later that my friends outside were likewise misled by jail employees as they tried to keep track of me.

I had arrived at the jail early on a Friday and was kept in these holding cells until Monday morning at 3 o’clock. Meals were unsatisfactory nutritionally and esthetically, but also, served as they were at 3 AM, 9AM and 3PM, did not even serve to mark the passage of time in this dungeon without windows and where the lights never dimmed. These cells varied in size and the body counts in them varied hour to hour. There were narrow benches around the walls where a few could lie down and nap, but most of us were lucky when there was room enough to stretch out without a blanket on the cold, filthy concrete floor. There was an open toilet in each cell- to use toilet paper, one had to find and wake the prisoner who had appropriated the roll for use as a pillow. In the wee hours after my third night on concrete, I was finally taken upstairs, given a change of clothes and a blanket and shown a cot in a fairly quiet and almost clean dormitory of some 80 men.

About 10 on Monday morning, I was chained up again and led through a series of tunnels and elevators to traffic court. There were some 30 of us in that batch, by no means everyone who had been jailed over the weekend for unpaid traffic charges. Each case was decided by the judge in seconds, with no defendant allowed to say anything beyond affirming their identity upon hearing their name called. Most of the fines and added fees assessed against these men and women amounted to many thousands of dollars. Based on an informal formula of dollars per days in lock up, the judge shaved off some off the fines owed and let most of the prisoners out with the threat that if the remainder was not paid in 30 days, more costs would be added, a new warrant issued and the cycle would be repeated.

This is a photo I took of the Brinks truck that they drive up to the front door of the Regional Injustice Center in Las Vegas every morning.

This is a photo I took of the Brinks truck that they drive up to the front door of the Regional Injustice Center in Las Vegas every morning.

None of us in traffic court that morning had been granted a “hearing where the defendant’s ability to pay is assessed” that the law demands before putting us in jail. Few of us, if any, had been found guilty by any judicial process before being fined in the first place. Debt collection, not guilt or innocence, was the only concern of this “court.” What happened in court that morning could be called “criminal justice” only in that what was done to us by the court was criminal. What happened to us was a shakedown by gangsters wearing police uniforms and judges’ robes, not for the sake of justice, but to maintain the civic infrastructure behind the glittering façade of Las Vegas with dollars squeezed out of its poorest citizens.

Through this experience, I met many interesting people, mostly young black and brown men. A few of them were locked up for alleged criminal offenses, but many seemed to be caught up in the same collections racket as me. The calls made from the phones in the cells were mostly frantic appeals to family and friends for money to pay the fines or the bail that would get them released. Unless they were wearing badges and carrying keys, there was no one I met at the Clark County jail that I feared as a threat to myself or to the public safety.

If the machinations of the Las Vegas Justice Court are not about justice, neither are the drones controlled from Creech Air Force Base 40 miles away about defense. By remote control and often under the shadiest of orders by the CIA, military personnel at Creech are assassinating suspected enemies far from fields of battle, based on unproven allegations or on “patterns of behavior,” often incinerating their families or the strangers unfortunate enough to be close by. It should not be surprising that a government that executes suspects, sometimes even its own citizens, without trial in places far away will also imprison its poorest people at home without due process.

Among those who stood with me in traffic court that morning, my own debt of $348 was one of the smallest and the judge summarily sentenced me to time served, crediting my four days in jail to wipe away all my fines and added costs. I was not even allowed to explain that I had never solicited a ride on a roadway in the first place. Although the judge said I was free to go, the bureaucracy of the jail took another 12 hours to get me released. It was after 10:30 Monday night that I was finally given back my clothes and sent out the long tunnel that leads from the jail to the bright lights of downtown Las Vegas, onto the sidewalk and into the embrace of faithful friends who had been keeping vigil for me the whole time of my incarceration.

I left the Clark County jail exhausted and happy to be out, but grateful, too, for the hospitality and patient endurance of those who shared their harsh, constricted space with me for a few days. It is a hard but precious privilege for this middle aged white man to visit such places where other good people have no choice but to inhabit.

The same drama is being played out in jails and courtrooms around the United States, the country that imprisons more of its people than any other. With more than 95% of criminal charges now settled with plea bargains instead of going to trial, many defendants are convicted and put away for years with not much more in the way of due process than I was afforded with my little trumped-up hitchhiking ticket.

It is unclear if what happened to me in Las Vegas Justice Court on April 4 was a conviction in the strictly legal sense, but what happened there has certainly deepened my conviction that the so-called war on terror is just one front of the vicious war on the poor and on people with black and brown skin here at home as well as abroad. This conviction will lead me back to Creech and other drone bases, to the places targeted by their Hellfire missiles when I can and, if need be, back to the Clark County Correctional Center.

Drawing on these connections, Voices for Creative Nonviolence is organizing a “NO Thomson Prison De-Incarceration Walk,” 150 miles from Chicago to Thomson, Illinois, from May 28 to June 11. Thomson is where the federal government will soon open a new “super-max” prison that is expected to keep up to 1,900 prisoners in solitary conditions that have been condemned by the international community as amounting to torture. Please join us if you can.

Brian Terrell lives in Iowa and is a Co-coordinator for Voices for Creative Nonviolence. In recent years he has visited Afghanistan three times and has spent more than six months in prison for protesting at drone bases. For more information email [email protected] Read other articles by Brian.

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Las Vegas Police Jailed Paraplegic for Two Weeks; Accused of Robbery Where Suspect Ran Away

On May 21st, Antwine Hunter was assaulted by an officer from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and slammed onto the ground outside a pizza place near downtown Las Vegas. Not long after, he found himself inside a cell at the Clark County Detention Center with the leg braces he had worn since being paralyzed in a drive-by shooting 17 years ago in California at the age of twelve having been confiscated.

Initially, he was unable to move without the braces and not much better off once he was given a cheap, undersized, and uncomfortable wheelchair to use. After being informed that he was arrested on a warrant for burglary and larceny charges, Hunter couldn’t fathom how he could be wanted for those crimes. The confusion deepened when he was told that he was being accused of running into a UPS driver’s truck, grabbing his cell phone and scanner, and then escaping by running away.

Obviously, someone who is paralyzed from the waist down couldn’t have ran into and then away from the truck. So, logic would tell you that Hunter wasn’t the man who really committed that crime. Unfortunately for him though, nobody within the LVMPD stopped to actually use logic or anything even remotely close to it.

Not the officer who sadistically threw him to the ground during the arrest. Not the detectives who issued the warrant and then never bothered to even interview him after he was arrested. (In fact, in the video embedded below Hunter states that when he tried to explain to an officer that was reading the description of the charges and the details of the allegations against him that it couldn’t have been him, he was told to “shut up.”) Not even the judge who ordered him held on a $20,000 bail, which was too high for him to pay.

Instead, Hunter suffered for two weeks in jail before he finally went before Justice of the Peace Eric Goodman to face the charges. Amazingly, once a jail guard wheeled Hunter into the courtroom everyone, including the judge, the prosecutor, and the UPS driver whose property was stolen, instantly knew he wasn’t the droid they should have been looking for.

Herbert Hutson, the UPS driver immediately informed Prosecutor Elana Graham that Hunter wasn’t the person who had robbed him. Graham quickly realized, for what should have been obvious reasons that Hunter wasn’t even capable of being the one responsible for committing the crime and Judge Goodman dismissed the case. Meanwhile, the unnamed arresting officer never even bothered to show up for court and Metro had no comment when asked about the case by the Las Vegas Review Journal.

So, how did it get to the point that Hunter was left to suffer for two weeks in jail without proper medical care or the necessary accommodations for his disability, in spite of being completely innocent and very obviously not even being physically capable of having committed the crime he stood (no pun intended) accused of? For some reason, Hunter was included within a photo lineup that was presented to the UPS driver. Even more inexplicably, when Hutson picked him out as the man he believed stole his equipment, instead of explaining that it couldn’t have been him since he couldn’t actually run, detectives simply issued a warrant for his arrest and sent an officer out to (violently) arrest him.

Prosecutor Graham called the dismissal, “a totally fair resolution.” – Because those two weeks of his life and the physical hardships inflicted upon him during his time in jail don’t really count. She also made sure to caution everybody that just because the charges were (finally) dismissed, that doesn’t mean he isn’t a criminal, just that he wasn’t THAT criminal. – Because dragging the reputation of the people accused of crimes through the mud, even if they are shown to be innocent, is kind of a tradition among prosecutors and the police in Las Vegas. You’ve gotta seize every opportunity you get, especially when someone has some old convictions for victimless crimes (that he maintains involved the use of marijuana for the pain caused by the injuries that left him severely disabled).

For his part, Judge Goodman stopped short of throwing the case out altogether. Instead, he ruled that those detectives who did such a great job the first time and/or the prosecutors could refile the charges against Hunter if some sort of evidence surfaced that he was actually involved in the robbery. So, for instance, if it comes out that Hunter has just been faking that he is a paraplegic since 1999 as part of an elaborate ruse to eventually steal a cell phone and UPS code scanner, they can send someone back down to bodyslam him again.

Meanwhile, Roy Nelson, the defense attorney that represented Hunter, stated that his client “could pursue litigation against the police,” as well he should. The only thing more obvious in this case than the incompetence and shitty job pretty much everyone involved did, is the fact that the taxpayers of Clark County, Nevada are going to have to pay a pretty penny to bail Metro out on this one.

Close behind those two factors in obviousness is the certainty that none of those people that completely screwed up this case, then abused and traumatized a completely innocent man, will suffer any sort of consequences, whatsoever. There’s no shortage of precedent for that eventuality throughout the history of Las Vegas area police.

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Las Vegas School Police Officer Causes Drunken Car Accident Assaults/Pulls Gun on Victims

Anthony Russo LV CCSD Cop DUISgt. Anthony Russo, of the Clark County School District Police Department in Las Vegas, was arrested Sept. 5th after a drunken one man crime spree that included running a red light, smashing into another car at 60 mph, assaulting the passenger in that car, punching a bystander who attempted to pull him away, and then pulling his gun on others that had tried to assist his victims. Sgt. Russo was off-duty and not in uniform at the time. He never identified himself as a police officer, not that that would have made his drunken rampage any more legal or less outrageous.

Via the Las Vegas Review Journal:

Troopers said Russo was at fault in the crash that escalated into fight where the off-duty school police sergeant drew his gun. He faces charges that include driving under the influence, failure to obey a traffic signal, possession of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol, drawing a deadly weapon in a threatening manner and two counts of battery, NHP said.

Witnesses said Russo ran a red light at the off-ramp while going about 60 mph before hitting the car, according to arrest records obtained by the Review-Journal. Bystanders went to check on the Hyundai’s passengers, and Russo, wearing “dress clothes,” punched the car’s passenger in the face three times.

When bystanders pulled Russo away from the passenger, he punched one of them in the face and lifted up his shirt, where his firearm was holstered. He pulled out his gun, and a female bystander stood between Russo and others at the scene, according to the arrest record.

That’s when Russo went back to his car.

The arrest record said he failed to take a field sobriety test. He was taken to University Medical Center — as were three other people involved in the crash. Troopers got a warrant to draw four vials of blood from Russo, the arrest record said. He was then booked into the Clark County Detention Center.

Anthony Russo CCSD Cop DUISgt. Russo has been suspended for his actions that night. Additionally, since he is facing felony charges, Russo is actually on an unpaid suspension, rather than the typical paid vacation that cops generally receive while their crimes are being “investigated” by their co-workers.

This isn’t the first time Sgt. Russo has made the news with his gun. In 1998, he shot at a 13 year old kid with down syndrome four times, hitting him twice. Peter Liriano, who was shot in the arm and leg, but survived, had been spotted by police walking down the street with a BB gun, which isn’t actually illegal. Not surprisingly, Russo was cleared of any wrongdoing by LVMPD “investigators” and the District Attorney’s Office, both of whom have literally never seen a shooting by police that they didn’t consider justified.

Incidentally, Russo is the president of the school district’s Police Officer’s Association, the police union for school cops.

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Las Vegas Police Make It Very Clear They Don’t Understand the First Amendment at Chalk Protest

LVMPD CCDC Chalk Protest

Two Can Play That Game

On September 9th, members of Nevada Cop Block and the Sunset Activist Collective were doing a chalk protest at the Clark County Detention Center (CCDC) in Downtown Las Vegas. Things were pretty quiet and peaceful until a bunch of gang members working for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) showed up to harass and intimidate us, even though we weren’t doing anything illegal or in any way disruptive.

They started out by admitting that we weren’t being detained (and therefore not suspected of a crime), but stated that they would like for us to leave. I politely told them (and wrote, as you can see to the left) that we would like for THEM to leave.

At that point, the sergeant (badge #5906) and several (but not all) of the other officers, did in fact leave. However, as they were (jay)walking away they indicated that they were going to go call some patrol officers because it’s illegal for us to chalk there, which is very much not true.

Shortly after, they returned and began making it very clear that they didn’t understand the First Amendment or that wacky Free Speech thing that it protects. The sergeant stated that he was concerned about the content of the messages we were writing. Then when questioned about what the 1st Amendment says and how that might apply to his concerns, he seemed to genuinely not know and kinda just repeated variations of his concern about what we were writing as if it was a mantra they taught him in the academy.

#BlueLiesMatter

#BlueLiesMatter

He did briefly manage to expand on that once by stating that he was concerned the content of our First Amendment protected speech would incite people to violence against cops, in spite of the fact that nothing we wrote was violent or urging any sort of violence against anyone. It was merely an exercise of our Constitutionally protected right to Free Speech to protest police brutality and murders by cops.

I pointed out that it is all the blatant instances of police murdering people, often on video, that is inciting people, not us telling people about it. He didn’t seemed to be able to grasp the connection and actually stated that all those videos of cops murdering people were “irrelevant.”

That is actually really telling, in regards to the current attitudes and actions of many police officers. Many of them seem to actually believe that manufacturing a fake “War On Cops” and using that as a justification to double down on their own violence is the solution to all of the hatred and even violence that they are beginning to feel from the public. It certainly is one of the reasons that the police in Las Vegas have such little support among the residents here.

Then everyone stood around for over half an hour while they tried to intimidate us and we waited for these patrol officers to show up and harass and/or threaten us. At one point, someone who appeared to be an off-duty cop drove up, parked facing the wrong direction, and had a little chat with them. Afterwards, he did an illegal U-turn and parked the wrong direction (this time also in a fire lane) on the other side of the road, so he could chat with another officer on that sidewalk.

Murder=Paid Vacation (For Cops)

Murder = Paid Vacation (For Cops)

I got kinda bored then, so I started asking some questions. For the record, I never did get an answer on whether there’s a basketball court upstairs in the jail. Nor did they give me a clear answer on whether they still use those old-timely jail house keys or if there’s any correlation between the shade of their uniforms and their rank. I’m still considering whether to file a FOIA request on those, but I probably won’t.

Then they apparently got word from the patrol officers that they were full of shit, we weren’t doing anything illegal, and nobody was going to waste their time coming down to tell them that. So they (jay)walked back over to the jail and went inside.

All in all, the eight or so cops (five jail guards, one officer who appeared to be with the gang unit, an undercover unit, one patrol unit that was parked around the corner, and a Nevada Highway Patrol unit that might have just been passing through) that wasted about an hour on something they should have known was legal in the first place, served as a great example why the LVMPD keeps claiming it needs to extort Las Vegas citizens for even more money to hire additional cops.

(Note: This video is pretty long, so I tried to shorten it as much as possible by literally cutting out any pauses. For the sake of accuracy and transparency, I’ve also embedded the full 36+ minute raw video below. So you can watch the full unedited version, if you are inclined to do so. Mostly what was cut out was about ten minutes of dead air when we were just waiting for the patrol officers they had called to show up.)

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Raw Video

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LVMPD Giving $50k of Taxpayer Money to Man in “Distraction Grenade” Case

In the latest bailout of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department by taxpayers, the LVMPD will be “paying” a $50,000 settlement to a man for injuries he sustained after being hit by a flash-bang grenade, while he was an inmate at the Clark County Detention Center.

According to the Las Vegas Review Journal:

The inmate, Rick Kendrick, was injured during a “shake-down due to the threat of inmate violence,” in December, according to a document in the committees agenda.

Officers were trying to throw a “distract grenade” into an unoccupied jail cell, according to the document. But the grenade bounced off a concrete beam and hit Kendrick, who was injured by a piece of the explosive.

The Nevada Corrections Department has a pretty long and extensive history of abuse and medical neglect throughout the state’s prison and jails. So, it’s not exactly shocking that yet another inmate has been injured. Of course, if the person throwing those explosives around was the one picking up the tab for those injuries, they might be a little less “distracted” (you saw what I did there) and truer with their aim.

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Las Vegas Attorney Stephen Stubbs Found Not Guilty in 5th Amendment Right to Counsel Case (Update)

Stephen Stubbs with Bikers for Christ

Stephen Stubbs with members of “Bikers for Christ.”

Stephen Stubbs, a Las Vegas area attorney, was acquitted  on Tuesday of obstruction charges stemming from his refusal to leave the side of a client, who had requested him as counsel while he was being questioned by members of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. This client is a member of a ministry group called “Bikers for Christ.” In spite of the “for Christ” part of that name, the group was targeted for questioning by the LVMPD, because of Metro’s long-standing policy of intentional harassment toward motorcycle clubs.

Stephen, who has been featured several times in the past on CopBlock.org, including shortly after this incident (see below for that original post), was arrested after being ordered to leave and allow his client to be questioned without counsel by a member of the LVMPD’s Gang Unit. His refusal to do so, even though the Metro sergeant originally in charge before the G-Unit arrived had already confirmed he could attend any questioning in accordance with the Fifth Amendment right to counsel, resulted in Sgt. Yesemia Yatomi ordering him to be arrested.

The ease with which this verdict was rendered (without Stephen’s own attorneys even being required to present a defense) only underscores how illegal and unconstitutional that arrest was. The fact that the District Attorney’s office even brought it to trial, shows just how vindictive and retaliatory the police and prosecutors in Las Vegas can be when somebody has a history of standing up to them and how wasteful those bad priorities ultimately are.

Below is Stephen Stubbs’ statement announcing the verdict in the case via a Facebook post:

Fifth Amendment Right to Counsel Upheld

Stephen Stubbs with his attorneys, John Spilotro and Lisa Szyc.

Stephen Stubbs with his attorneys, John Spilotro and Lisa Szyc.

On March 25, 2015, Attorney Stephen Stubbs was found “not guilty” of Obstruction. Stephen Stubbs was arrested on November 14, 2013, after his client (a Christian Minister who is a Biker for Christ) was being detained my LVMPD and insisted on a lawyer during questioning. During the course of the investigation, Officer Yesemia Yatomi interjected herself into the investigation, ordered Stubbs to leave his client’s side and thus deprived Stubbs’s client of his Constitutional rights. Stubbs refused to leave his client’s side, was arrested by Sergeant Yatomi, and was thrown into jail. 

At trial, Attorneys John Spilotro and Lisa Szyc concentrated on every citizen’s Constitutional 5th Amendment right to counsel. The Honorable Judge Eric Goodman agreed and declared Attorney Stephen Stubbs not guilty without requiring the defense to present its case or even call one witness.

 

The criminal charges were initiated based upon the sworn declaration of Officer Yatomi. However, Officer Yatomi did not know that the entire matter was recorded on video, which belied her under oath statements. Officer Yatomi insisted in her testimony, that although Stephen Stubbs’s client had the right to an attorney during questioning, the attorney should not be allowed to stand next to his client. Interestingly, Officer Yatomi was a defendant in a civil rights lawsuit filed by Stephen Stubbs in 2012.

See Below for video of the incident and an excerpt from the original post on CopBlock.org, regarding Stephen Stubbs’ arrest.

Attorney Stephen Stubbs Arrested for Refusing to Leave His Client’s Side

Stephen-Stubbs-CopBlockIn Las Vegas, the LVMPD regularly detains motorcyclists for minor traffic violations, and then keeps them for an extended period of time for “intelligence gathering.” On 11/14/2013, about a hundred motorcyclists were gathered in Las Vegas for a Southern Nevada Confederation of Clubs meeting. At this meeting, Attorney Stephen Stubbs was going to make a presentation on Constitutional Rights. However, Attorney Stubbs was pulled out of the building by other motorcyclists to help a member of the Bikers for Christ Motorcycle Ministry that was being detained by LVMPD.

Attorney Stubbs came out of the building; the detained member of Bikers for Christ immediately pointed at Stubbs and said, “That’s my lawyer.” Attorney Stubbs approached two LVMPD officers and one LVMPD Sergeant. Attorney Stubbs asked the LVMPD Sergeant if the man was being detained and the Sergeant said, “Yes, for a traffic violation,” then explained that they wanted to “question” him.

At that time, the video started.

Read the full post here…

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Las Vegas Metro Police Brutality Inside Clark County Detention Center

Police Brutality at the CCDC

Police Brutality at the CCDC

This is a cross post from CopBlock.org: Bridger Kennedy shared the information below via CopBlock.org/Submit about the unwarranted treatment some employed in the Clark County Detention Center used against him. For incidents related to Nevada, you can also submit directly to Nevada Cop Block’s Submit Page.

Date of Incident: September 25th 2014
Individual Responsible: Seargent Newman and colleagues
Outfit: Clark County Detention Center, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
Phone: (702) 671-3900

Hey, my name is Bridger Kennedy. I was just in jail for a DUI (my own prescription medication) that I had taken four-hours prior to driving and while I was in the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada I was beat up pretty bad in there by about six correction officers.

Prior to my intake picture my face was pushed up against the wall and my bare feet were stepped on with their boots, then after the picture was taken – both front and sideways being jerked around like a rag doll – fingernails gripped into the inner part of my biceps leaving bruises.

I was then put in this black restraint chair and my hands were handcuffed til the very last notch on the cuff. I was shoved to sit down, my balls kneed on by one of the officers, my ankles were cuffed as tight as possible too, and then put some type of thigh winch strap thing around both my legs – smashing my knees together.

clarkc-county-detention-center-las-vegas-metropolitan-police-department-copblockI was very mad at this point and was was left in the chair for two hours. I then was taken out and seated in the big intake room (left side guys, right side girls). I was seated in the last row 2nd or 3rd seat to the left, everything was going fine. About 30-minutes had passed by when I had seen people asking to register on the phone so that they could make calls to people outside of the jail on one of the two phones available to do so.

There was one man on the left phone registering and there wasn’t anyone on the right phone, so I asked this African American female correctional officer (CO) if I can please register? She rudely answered with a snotty ‘No’ and turned away from me, at that point I didn’t say anything. About one-minute later a female inmate asks her if she could register and the CO gladly says ‘Yes’ to her, so at this point I said that is messed up why can’t I register and she can? Then this Hispanic CO says “Stand up motherfucker get over here” so I stood up and by the time I was on my feet he was rushing me and grabbed my wrist then threw me to the side.

By this point two other officers were running up and helped him throw me face down onto the ground and kneeing me in the back of the head.

I just had surgery to get my portacath removed two days prior to being in the jail. I have been in remission from cancer for three years now I was diagnosed with non Hodgkin’s lymphoma when I was 17 (I will be 21 on December 28 of this year). I was face down yelling to them I had cancer and just had surgery.

The CO’s came over and piled their weight on top of my chest head arms legs back and feet while I can barely breathe I was yelling I have asthma as well since I was a little kid and now they are yelling to me to stop resisting when I wasn’t resisting whatsoever.

I couldn’t move and inch of any part of my body, at this point I am in excruciating pain and am being lifted up by my wrists and being taken back the the black restraint chair again. I was then once again strapped into the chair as tight as they possibly could after about 45-minutes in the chair. I just couldn’t bare the lack of circulation to my hands and feet. My upper thighs had lost the feeling in them by now, so I power through another hour and about 25-minutes of the chair each time having a spit mask on when I never spit or attempted to once.

They took me out and went and sat back down once again in the same chair I originally was in the first time I sat.

Editors Note: Bridger was encouraged to reach out to those involved with Nevada Cop Block, who have done an excellent job focusing the disinfecting light of transparency on the criminal LVMPD outfit.

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