HENDERSON, Nev. (KLAS) — A young Black man arrested on a felony warrant for a white man twice his age with the same name repeatedly told police they had the wrong person, videos obtained by the 8 News Now I-Team reveal.
Shane Lee Brown, 25, spent six days in two separate jails on a warrant involving a middle-aged man in a case of mistaken identity, a lawsuit filed in federal court claims.
The I-Team filed a public records request for the videos. The police department redacted the officers’ faces. The I-Team’s report marks the first time the videos were made public.
As the I-Team reported in January, Henderson police pulled over Brown on Jan. 8, 2020. He did not have his identification but provided his name, Social Security number and Social Security card, the videos show, and the lawsuit said.
While performing a records check for “Shane Brown,” a felony warrant for a different Shane Brown appeared. The bench warrant out of a Las Vegas court for Shane Neal Brown, then-49 years old, was for a charge of ownership or possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. The elder Brown had skipped court and a judge ordered a no-bail arrest.
The arrest: ‘No wrong guy’
The traffic stop begins at 4:44 p.m.
“I stopped you because you didn’t have any headlights on at all,” one police officer said to Brown who is sitting in the driver’s seat of a car at an intersection. “Alright, let me see your driver’s license.”
The video shows two officers speaking with Brown.
“I do have a warrant with you guys, but I have a court date tomorrow to take care of all that,” Brown tells the two men. “My license is also suspended for that reason. I’m taking care of all that tomorrow.”
The videos show Brown also told the officers his middle name. The men ask Brown to get out of the car since his license is suspended.
While Brown is sitting on the sidewalk awaiting officers to release him, one of the officers said it would not make sense to arrest Brown if he has a court date the next day.
“If he as court tomorrow, we don’t want to arrest him,” the officer said. “That would be dumb.”
Within minutes, everything changed.
“So, we got to figure some stuff out,” an officer said as he approaches Brown on the sidewalk. “You got arrested for something with a weapon.”
“Not ringing a bell?” one officer said to Brown.
“No wrong guy,” Brown replied.
It does not ring a bell because Brown, a Black man in his 20s has never met the Shane Brown police want – a white man in his late-40s. When the officers tell the younger Brown he is a wanted felon, he is understandably confused.
“I’ve been arrested, but everything I’ve been arrested for is traffic violations,” he said. Traffic violations are handled in Henderson Municipal Court.
Officers did not buy that answer and handcuffed Brown. Throughout the arrest, Brown continues to maintain he is the wrong person.
“It comes back totally matching you. Not much else we can do,” one officer said to Brown.
“I’ve never been arrested for weapons charges,” Brown said.
The warrant: ‘I called dispatch and it’s pinging off his Social’
The I-Team showed the body camera videos to retired Nevada State Police Capt. Scot Martin, who worked in the agency’s internal affairs unit.
“In my opinion, I’m not sure how that warrant comes back tied to this young man here,” Martin told the I-Team’s David Charns. “He’s very confused.”
“Isn’t it on them rather than on him?” Charns asked Martin.
“It’s been my experience and it’s my opinion that an investigation out on the scene has to take place to be able to be 100% sure,” Martin said.
The wrong Shane Brown continued to plead with police to double-check his identity, knowing he is not the Shane Brown wanted on the weapons charge.
“My Social’s in there too if you want to check that out,” Brown said, repeating his name.
The officers speak to each other again about Brown’s identity.
“Whether it is or not, I called dispatch and it’s pinging off his Social,” one officer said.
“So, what do we want to tell the jail?” another replied.
“That he has a weapons charge,” the first officer said.
“Could their records have been wrong?” Charns asked Martin.
“There could have a been a mix-up with his Social Security number with the other warrant for the traffic citation,” Martin said.
The ID number: ‘I’m pretty sure it’s going to be you’
The I-Team found the no-bail warrant for the elder Shane Brown features the unique ID number that police agencies in southern Nevada all share. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department owns and administers the Shared Computer Operation for Protection and Enforcement ID – or SCOPE. Nearly 100 different agencies share the data, including police, sheriff’s offices and courts, a presentation to the Nevada Legislature said.
A search of the elder Shane Brown’s SCOPE number would have brought up at least two prior booking photos for the correct Shane Brown. The I-Team found at least two prior booking photos for the older Shane Brown, two most recently taken in 2019, months before the younger Shane Brown was taken into custody on the older Shane Brown’s warrant.
“As long as that warrant isn’t me, am I good to go? That felony warrant?” the younger Shane Brown asked while in handcuffs.
“Yes — but I’m almost 100 — I don’t think — I’m pretty sure it’s going to be you,” the officer replied.
Court records attached to the elder Shane Brown’s SCOPE ID number and his warrant show the Shane Brown with the felony warrant is white with brown hair and blue eyes, the I-Team found. The elder Shane Brown was born in 1971. The younger Shane Brown was born in 1996.
“If we could do it, couldn’t they have done it?” Charns asked Martin.
“Absolutely,” Martin said. “I couldn’t believe that they didn’t find that they didn’t figure out that the right Brown.”
The videos show more police arrive as Brown sits in a cruiser awaiting his drive to the jail, but the officer who walks away to speak to them had his body camera muted.
Six days in jail: ‘More or less a nightmare’
One officer then drove the younger Shane Brown to the Henderson Detention Center. It remained unclear how Henderson police informed the Metro police, which runs the Clark County Detention Center, that a Shane Brown – albeit the wrong one — was in its custody.
After two days in the Henderson jail, the wrong Shane Brown said he was put on a bus and taken to the Clark County Detention Center. It is customary for a person with a warrant from Las Vegas court to be taken to that jail awaiting a court appearance.
On Jan. 10, 2020, a member of LVMPD filed paperwork with the court, indicating officers had the older Shane Brown in custody, though, it was really the younger Shane Brown.
During the booking process at CCDC, corrections officers gave the wrong Shane Brown a new SCOPE number, different than the older Shane Brown whom they thought was in their custody.
“At CCDC, Shane Lee Brown once again explained to numerous unknown LVMPD officers and supervisors that he was not the ‘Shane Brown’ named on the felony bench warrant,” the lawsuit said. “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.”
“It started with being pulled over — simple traffic violation, and then it escalated into something polar opposite,” Shane Brown said told the I-Team in January. “More or less a nightmare.”
The revelation: ‘Your honor, we have a major issue in this case’
During a return warrant hearing on Jan. 14, 2020 – six days after the traffic stop — a public defender told Judge Joe Hardy the wrong Shane Brown was in custody.
“Your honor, we have a major issue in this case,” she said in a video first obtained by the I-Team. “The Shane Brown who is the defendant in our case has a separate ID number and he is a 49-year-old white male.”
Hardy ordered Shane Lee Brown to be released immediately.
An arrest report for the older Shane Brown indicated LVMPD learned on Jan. 22, 2020, that he was in custody in San Bernardino County, California. He appeared in court later that month, accepting a plea deal.
A spokesperson for Metro police, which oversees CCDC, previously told the I-Team that the department does not comment on ongoing litigation.
When the I-Team first asked Henderson police about the lawsuit a week before, a spokesperson said the city would respond in court.
After the I-Team interviewed Brown and his attorney, E. Brent Bryson, a week after the first report, the city provided an updated statement.
“During a routine traffic stop for driving an unregistered vehicle, Shane Brown was correctly arrested by Henderson police for driving with a suspended license and for a contempt of court, failure to pay warrant issued by Henderson Municipal Court,” a city spokesperson said.
The I-Team sent the city a list of questions after viewing the videos, including, “Why did officers not believe Mr. Brown when he told them he did not have a warrant out for his arrest from Metro?” and “Why did no one in HPD look up the Metro warrant/documents which show the Shane Brown they were looking for was white and older?”
“Shane Brown was driving an unregistered vehicle with a suspended driver license and had a warrant for contempt of court, failure to pay,” a spokesperson said in a statement Thursday. “While his arrest was lawful, we regret that he was misidentified in our system and have put measures in place and improved training procedures to prevent this from happening in the future.”
A question about what happened to the officers went unanswered.