Black man sues police after being mistaken for white ex-felon

A 25-year-old Black man was misidentified as a 51-year-old white man.

January 24, 2022, 7:58 PM

Shane Lee Brown, a 25-year-old Black man, is suing two Nevada police departments after he says he was misidentified as a now-51-year-old white man who had an active felony warrant out against him.

Brown was arrested on January 8, 2020, during a traffic stop with Henderson, Nevada, police. Brown didn't have his driver's license with him but gave his name and Social Security information to police, according to the lawsuit.

When officers performed a records check on the name "Shane Brown," a felony bench warrant for possession of a firearm by a prohibited person appeared, according to the lawsuit.

Brown was then arrested and jailed and two days later, he was put in custody of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

PHOTO: This undated Clark County Detention Center photo shows Shane Neal Brown, now 51.
This undated Clark County Detention Center photo shows Shane Neal Brown, now 51.
Clark County Detention Center/Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department via AP

"Despite being informed of this mistaken identity, none of the unknown LVMPD police or LVMPD corrections officers bothered to review its own records to determine whether Shane Lee Brown was the subject of the warrant," the lawsuit said.

Henderson police told ABC News that the arrest was lawful and that Shane Lee Brown was arrested for driving with a suspended license and for failing to pay a warrant issued by Henderson Municipal Court.

"The plaintiff in this lawsuit has not presented all the facts and circumstances behind his lawful and proper arrest by Henderson Police, which will be further addressed in the City Attorney's response to the court," the police department says, commenting on the lawsuit.

Brown's attorney, E. Brent Bryson, told ABC News Brown told officers that he knew about the violations and had a court date set to take care of them.

"They were going to let him go, except for the fact that when they ran [his name], it pulled up the wrongful bench warrant for the white Shane Brown," Bryson said. "From one standpoint, yes, they could have arrested him and be rightfully arrested for traffic. He was wrongfully detained and arrested, however, for the warrant out of [the Las Vegas Metropolitan area] for the felony possession of a firearm."

On Jan. 14, a Clark County District Court judge confirmed that he was not Shane Neal Brown at a hearing and was released from custody, the lawsuit states.

He is suing the Las Vegas and Henderson police departments for $50,000 for civil rights violations, false imprisonment, negligence and other wrongful conduct.

According to the lawsuit, Brown told police several times that he was not Shane Neal Brown. Shane Neal Brown is an ex-felon who was wanted for missing a court hearing while on parole following a possession of a firearm charge. He pleaded guilty to the charges. The lawsuit indicates that there were likely prior booking photos of Shane Neal Brown available.

"Had any of the LVMPD police or corrections officers performed any due diligence, such as comparing Shane Lee Brown's booking photo against the existing mug shot belonging to the world, white 'Shane Brown' named in the warrant, they would have easily determined that Shane Lee Brown has been misidentified as the subject of the warrant," the lawsuit said.

PHOTO: This undated Henderson Detention Center photo shows Shane Lee Brown, now 25.
This undated Henderson Detention Center photo shows Shane Lee Brown, now 25.
Henderson Police Department via AP

Bryson has accused law enforcement officials of ignoring the conflicting details including mismatched photos, fingerprints, dates of birth, physical descriptions or criminal identification numbers in the process of Brown's arrest and incarceration.

LVMPD declined ABC News' request for comment.