Las Vegas police have agreed to pay $24,999 to a man who claimed police planted drugs on him in an exercise to train drug-sniffing dogs and then arrested him for possession.
Mark Lilly had sought $50,000 in a suit backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada for being unjustly charged in July 2004 with possession of cocaine.
"I am heartened that Mr. Lilly got some measure of justice," said ACLU of Nevada executive director Gary Peck. "I am very disappointed the officers who I believe were not truthful in a criminal proceeding remain on the force."
Lilly had been detained for trying to sell fake drugs to undercover officers. Then canine officer David Newton placed real drugs in Lilly's car as a training exercise for his dog, but forgot to retrieve the packet of cocaine, police said.
Other officers who later searched his vehicle arrested Lilly for possession of illegal drugs.
Newton later discovered the mistake and tried to correct it by sending a notice to a prosecutor, but internal affairs investigators concluded the notice never reached the prosecutor. The drug possession charge eventually was dropped and Lilly pleaded guilty to selling fake drugs.
The ACLU said it was concerned that when police officers David Parker and Kevin Collmar testified in court at Lilly's preliminary hearing, they didn't mention that the possession charge should have been dropped.
"Lies of omission are every bit as bad as lies of commission," Peck said.
A panel of the Metropolitan Police Department's Citizen Review Board recommended in 2005 that Parker and Collmar be fired and that Newton be suspended for four months without pay. Instead, the three officers were suspended without pay for undisclosed periods of time.
Clark County Sheriff Bill Young ended the long-standing practice of placing narcotics inside the vehicles of law-abiding motorists as a training exercise for drug-sniffing dogs in April 2005.
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)