LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Both Las Vegas city councilwomen involved in a fight after a committee meeting violated the city’s code of conduct in an altercation captured on video that was later deleted, an investigative report found.
Councilwoman Victoria Seaman had filed a complaint with the city against Councilwoman Michele Fiore regarding the Jan. 11, 2021, fight that left Seaman with a broken finger. The 61-page report from an independent investigator details Seaman’s complaints against the city, Fiore and others from a human resources perspective.
Seaman filed a lawsuit this week against Fiore and the city in the aftermath of the incident. While Las Vegas City Council is a nonpartisan body, both women are Republicans and served in the Nevada Assembly.
“Councilwoman Fiore grabbed Councilwoman Seaman by the hand pulling, jerking, twisting, and breaking Councilwoman Seaman’s finger in a violent manner,” Seaman’s lawsuit alleges. “Councilwoman Fiore attempted to throw Councilwoman Seaman to the floor by her hand.”
Surveillance cameras inside Las Vegas City Hall captured the fight. A video was shown to several people, including Fiore and Seaman, but deleted 60 days later, because reporters’ public records requests were not worded in a way the city felt merited its release.
The city tasked the investigator to look at Seaman’s allegations, including that Fiore “was verbally abusive and increasingly hostile,” whether Fiore had, in fact, attacked Seaman, and whether the video was deleted in an alleged cover-up.
The report found while both women violated employee policies, all of Seaman’s allegations in her complaint were unsubstantiated. While the fight happened in January 2021, the investigator did not begin her first interview on the manner until July 2022, the report said.
Seaman and Fiore were good friends up until June 2020. That is when, according to the report, Seaman distanced herself from Fiore after comments she made gained national attention.
“Councilwoman Seaman stated that after the media attention and Councilwoman Seaman’s comments to the press, Councilwoman Fiore became verbally abusive and increasingly hostile toward her in city council briefings,” the investigator wrote in the report. “Councilwoman Seaman stated Councilwoman Fiore berated her and would say anything she could to intimidate Councilwoman Seaman.”
While the investigator noted the tension between the two women, she could not find Fiore was “verbally abusive and increasingly hostile.”
“While several witnesses… described tension between Councilwoman Seaman and Councilwoman Fiore, none of the witness described either woman engaging in abusive conduct and verbal attacks,” the report said. Witnesses named include Mayor Goodman.
The fight in question happened following an audit committee meeting in a hallway behind the council chamber, the report said. The report describes Seaman’s description of the incident as follows:
“In the hallway behind Chambers, Councilwoman Fiore was walking on the disability access ramp and Councilwoman Seaman was on the other side of the handrail walking on the stairs. Councilwoman Seaman said, ‘You need to be respectful, and if you can’t be respectful the way I was when you were mayor pro tem, you need to get off my committee.’ Councilwoman Seaman was walking side by side with Councilwoman Fiore when she made the comment, and then Councilwoman Seaman walked in front of Councilwoman Fiore toward the private elevator. That is when Councilwoman Fiore came from behind and attacked Councilwoman Seaman, ‘assaulted’ her, and twisted and broke her finger. Councilwoman Fiore then pulled Councilwoman Seaman by the hair and pulled her down to the ground ‘like an animal.’”
Seaman pulled away, according to the lawsuit, but Fiore came after her again, according to the filing. Seaman accuses Fiore of grabbing her by the hair, violently yanking her head back, and throwing her to the floor.
“Councilwoman Fiore grabbed Councilwoman Seaman violently by the hair with the specific intention to inflict pain, establish control, dominate, humiliate, embarrass, and injure, as evidenced by the way she threw Councilwoman Seaman to the floor and left her there without any care or concern for her condition or possible injuries,” the lawsuit stated.
During an interview, Fiore said Seaman was “yelling and shaking” and pointing her finger at her, the report said.
The two women then left the hallway and “ran” to Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s seventh-floor office, the report said.
“In describing what was said, Councilwoman Seaman stated the mayor was very concerned and saying ‘you guys need to stop this, and fix it, because you are both up for re-election and I need you both.’ Councilwoman Seaman stated that she said to the Mayor, ‘She [Councilwoman Fiore] just assaulted me,’ and Councilwoman Fiore responded, ‘No, you hit me in my face. You put your finger in my face.’
That night, Fiore and Seaman had dinner together, the report said.
“Councilwoman Fiore stated she did not grab, wrench, or break Councilwoman Seaman’s finger. At that point, Councilwoman Seaman kicked Councilwoman Fiore in the shin, which hurt,” the report said. “Councilwoman Fiore stated she was not holding Councilwoman Seaman’s hand and twisting her finger when Councilwoman Seaman kicked Councilwoman Fiore in the shin.”
As the two women were on the floor, Fiore said to Seaman, “Get the f— up, we are going to the mayor’s office right now,” the report said.
“Councilwoman Fiore also stated that Councilwoman Seaman did not walk away from her at any point during the verbal or physical altercation. Councilwoman Fiore said that Councilwoman Seaman kicked Councilwoman Fiore in the shin, turned her head or body away, and that is when Councilwoman Fiore grabbed Councilwoman Seaman by her hair and pulled her down to the floor,” the report said.
The investigator could not substantial Seaman’s claim that Fiore “physically attacked” Councilwoman Seaman “from behind.”
“Although Councilwoman Seaman alleges Councilwoman Fiore initiated and escalated the altercation, the evidence supports that she is the one who initiated and escalated the argument and altercation,” the investigator wrote in the report.
As previously reported, the incident was captured on video, which was later deleted. Seaman alleged the deletion of the video was part of a cover-up, the report said.
“Councilwoman Seaman stated that Councilwoman Fiore ‘was in talks with Bryan Scott and the whole thing was to be covered up. That is what the city wanted to do, and [the city attorney] said if the press did not ask for the video within sixty days, it would tape over it,’” the report said.
The report indicates Seaman, Fiore and other city leaders watched the video within the 60-day window. The video was also saved onto a flash drive, the report said.
Following reports of the fight, media outlets began asking for the video. Late Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German filed two requests looking for the video, the report said.
“The Las Vegas Review-Journal continued to submit requests looking for the video. Councilwoman Fiore stated that both she and Councilwoman Seaman told [the city attorney] not to give the video to the Las Vegas Review-Journal,” the report said.
German’s first request, according to the report, was “for a physical confrontation between Councilwoman Seaman and Councilwoman Fiore in front of the mayor’s office on the seventh floor.” The city responded by saying it had no record of a confrontation. While not stated in the response, there was no record because the confrontation happened on the second floor, the report said.
German filed a second request “for all videos in city hall for the entire day of January 11, 2021.” The city told German it would cost $64,000 to complete the request. German then canceled his request due to the cost.
“The city did not preserve the video as there were no pending records request open at the time the video would be deleted in the system. [An employee] thought the retention period was 30 days. When they received a subsequent request, the video was already deleted.”
A third request was filed after the video was deleted, the report said.
It Is clear from the report, that the city had isolated the video, but determined the records requests before its deletion were not worded in a way attorneys felt the requests should be fulfilled.
An attempt was made to recover the deleted data off a flash drive, but the video was not able to be recovered, the report said. The investigator wrote Seaman could have obtained a copy of the video within the 60-day window.
“The evidence does not support a coverup of the video for the city’s benefit or any fear the video would ‘look bad’ for the city,” the report said. “There were no pending public records requests at the time the video was deleted and overwritten. The third request was made on March 23, 2021, after the video was overwritten. Thus, there was no ‘cover up’ when the city responded on March 30, 2021, informing the requestor that the video no longer existed.”
The city noted Seaman did not press charges or file a police report.
“Regardless of ‘who started it,’ the screaming argument and physical altercation was disrespectful, abusive conduct, and wholly inappropriate,” the investigator wrote on the last page of the report. “Thus, the Investigator finds that Councilwoman Seaman and Councilwoman Fiore each violated the code of conduct during the argument and altercation on January 11, 2021.”
“I have been trying to get changes in policy so that this doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Seaman told 8 News Now on Monday. “I don’t want anybody to be assaulted and it’s covered-up, and that’s what we’ve been asking for for a long time.”
Fiore is the Republican nominee for Nevada treasurer.
“The same liberal Republicans who supported Michele’s primary opponent are now doing whatever they have to, to attempt to stop her from winning this election and returning Nevada to a state of financial common sense,” Fiore’s campaign spokesman, Rory McShane, said in a statement following Seaman’s filing of her lawsuit. “This will be no more successful than it was in the primary where she won with the largest margin of any candidate. We look forward to the truth coming out as soon as possible.”
8 News Now asked the city why German’s request was denied. The request was forwarded to the city attorney, a spokesman said.