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Black man spends days in jail after being mistaken for a suspect who is white and twice his age

A black man spent almost a week in prison after US police mistook him for a suspect with the same name who is white and twice his age, a lawsuit says.

Shane Lee Brown has accused two police departments in Nevada in the federal civil rights lawsuit of wrongful arrest and negligence.

The 25-year-old alleges that Henderson and Las Vegas police detained him for six days after mistaking him for Shane Neal Brown when he was pulled over in January last year, NBC News reports.

The lawsuit claims that the mix-up began after the traffic stop, in which he failed to provide a driver’s licence, prompting his arrest.


After he was pulled over, Brown “established his identity by providing his name, social security number, and social security card to the officer”, the lawsuit states.

It adds: “While performing a records check, the unknown HPD Officers confused Shane Lee Brown with a different Shane Brown, a 49-year-old white man, who was the subject of an outstanding felony bench warrant for ownership or possession of firearm by prohibited person.”

The younger Brown was held in the Henderson Detention Center from 8 to 10 January 2020. He was then transported to the Clark County Detention Center after a bench warrant issued by Las Vegas police certified that “Shane Brown” was the man wanted on the felony warrant, the lawsuit said.

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The lawsuit describes Shane Neal Brown as 5ft 11in with brown hair, blue eyes and a bushy white beard, and says he had been convicted of a crime in 1994.

Shane Lee Brown, however, is 5ft 7in and was not even born when the other Shane Brown was convicted, the lawsuit claims.

A judge authorised his release on 14 January 2020, after having been informed of his identity by public defender Shannon L Phenix, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit added that the younger Brown had repeatedly told police officers and their supervisors that he was not the older, white Shane Brown who was wanted on the felony warrant.

In addition to the two police departments, the lawsuit also names Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, the head of the Las Vegas police, Henderson Police Chief Thedrick Andres, and the city of Henderson as defendants.

A spokesperson for Las Vegas police declined to comment on behalf of the department and Lombardo on Monday, citing “pending litigation”.

Records show that the older Brown accepted a plea deal and was sentenced to up to six years in prison with credit for time served in February 2020.

Shane Lee Brown was not charged with any crime, and according to his lawsuit, is seeking a jury trial and more than $500,000 (£371,146) in compensatory damages.


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