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Photojournalist sues Vegas police over 2017 sidewalk arrest

Published:Thursday | April 18, 2019 | 12:12 AM


A photojournalist who was arrested during a ‘Tax Day’ rally outside of Trump International hotel in Las Vegas in 2017 has filed a federal civil rights and First Amendment lawsuit against Las Vegas police.

Nebyou Solomon’s attorney, Margaret McLetchie, said on Wednesday that her client was doing his job on a public sidewalk when he was taken into custody by police officers who said he was trespassing on the private property of nearby Fashion Show mall.

Solomon worked at the time for KLAS-TV, a CBS affiliate in Las Vegas, and was covering a crowd of more than 200 people calling for President Donald Trump to release his tax records. Solomon is now a freelance photojournalist.

He was released several hours after the arrest, and misdemeanor trespassing and obstruction charges against him were later dropped.

Officer Larry Hadfield, a Las Vegas police spokesman, declined to comment on the lawsuit filed Monday in US District Court in Las Vegas.

Due process

The legal action also claims violations of Solomon’s due process rights and unlawful search and seizure. It seeks unspecified monetary damages against the department and the officers and supervisors involved in the arrest.

McLetchie referred on Wednesday to decades of federal court lawsuits and appeals about access to public space in the crowded and neon-lit Las Vegas Strip.

“Courts have held over and over again that people have a right to engage in free speech on sidewalks in the Las Vegas resort corridor,” she said.

Solomon was setting up his camera across the street from the rally and the 64-storey, nearly 1,300 room non-casino Trump hotel when shopping centre security guards demanded he leave what they called mall property, McLetchie said.

Solomon asked police to tell the guards he had a right to be there, the attorney said, but officers and supervisors also called the sidewalk private property and arrested him. At the time, police issued a statement saying that Solomon didn’t cooperate with officers and refused to provide identifying information.