Appellate court finds Las Vegas officer used excessive force
The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has reversed a Las Vegas court decision and ordered a trial on charges a Metro police officer used excessive and unnecessary force in arresting Frankie Davis.
Davis was held for police after security at the Las Vegas Club found him in a private area of the club in November 2001. He was unarmed and handcuffed when Officer David Miller asked permission to search him. When Davis said no, Miller allegedly slammed the man’s head against a wall hard enough to dent the wallboard, threw him into a second wall breaking his neck, then pinned him face down on the floor, pushing a knee into Davis’ back. Finally, the officer turned him over and punched Davis in the face, according to court records.
Officer Miller was disciplined by his department.
Nonetheless, a Las Vegas judge dismissed Davis’ lawsuit.
Davis appealed and, Wednesday, won a reversal, which ruled Miller’s use of force “extremely severe.”
“Trespassing and obstructing a police officer, as those offenses were committed by Davis, are by no means such serious offenses as to provide an officer with a reasonable basis for subduing a person by the means employed by Officer Miller,” the court wrote. “Here, Davis posed no immediate threat to Officer Miller or to anyone else. Davis was unarmed, in handcuffs, and never attempted to harm Miller or anyone else in any way.”
The appellate court in San Francisco ruled Officer Miller’s actions violated Davis’ Fourth Amendment rights and ordered he get a trial of his suit accusing Miller of unreasonable force and battery.
“A reasonable juror could find that Officer Miller’s decision to slam Davis head-first into a wall multiple times, and to punch him in the face while he lay prone on the ground was not merely an exercise or abuse of discretion, but instead constituted a deliberate and willful disregard for the law, or malicious conduct,” the opinion states.
• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at email@example.com or 687-8750.