False arrest claim leads to settlement with police

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department headquarters (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Las Vegas police will pay a combined $675,000 in settlements to two men, including one who claimed he was the victim of a false arrest in 2019.

The Metropolitan Police Committee on Fiscal Affairs approved both settlements on Monday.

Douglas Seymour will receive $275,000. He was arrested for failing to identify himself, although body camera footage showed that the arresting officer never asked him to do so.

Seymour filed a federal lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department and officer John Woodruff in May 2020.

The lawsuit claimed that Woodruff knocked on the door of Seymour’s Boulder Highway apartment around 5:15 a.m. on November 20, 2019, and said there had been a complaint of animal abuse. According to the lawsuit, Seymour asked why he had to come outside with the officer, and Woodruff told him, “Okay, now you’re detained.”

Seymour, who is Black, was handcuffed and put in a patrol car while Woodruff “made disparaging comments against African Americans” and threatened to come back to the house, the suit alleged. When Seymour asked to speak with a supervisor, according to the document, Woodruff arrested him for failing to identify himself.

At the police station, Seymour spoke to a sergeant, who reviewed body camera footage corroborating Seymour’s story.

“He informed Seymour that he was being released and apologized stating to Seymour that he ‘shouldn’t have been arrested,’” the lawsuit stated.

Woodruff and Destini Hover, both of whom had worked for Metro since 2016, were arrested in May 2020 after Hover’s 6-year-old son accused Woodruff of hitting him with a belt and picking him up by the neck, according to a police report.

The pair are scheduled for trial in June. Each faces a charge of battery by strangulation constituting domestic violence, a charge of conspiracy to commit child abuse, and three counts of child abuse, according to court records.

Metro also will pay $400,000 to Eleazar Mora, whom officers shot in the face with a “less lethal projectile” on May 30, 2020, according to a fiscal affairs committee memo.

“The settlement is not based on an assessment of the use of force by the officers, but a compromise of a disputed claim and the costs of continuing litigation,” the memo states.

Further information on Mora’s claim was not immediately available.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.