LAS VEGAS – Las Vegas police have agreed to pay $200,000 to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed a patrol officer used excessive force during her arrest on suspicion of littering and loitering, officials said.
The case came to light when the officer's body camera provided a differing account of the January 2015 arrest that led to the firing of the officer, Richard Thomas Scavone, and the dismissal of charges against Amanda Vizcarrondo-Ortiz of Los Angeles.
Ortiz's lawyer, Cal Potter, said Tuesday he couldn't comment about terms of the settlement approved Monday by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's Fiscal Affairs Committee.
Potter previously characterized Ortiz's early morning treatment as unjustified "street justice" for what the attorney called "contempt of cop."
The police department did not acknowledge any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.
Scavone reported that he stopped Ortiz because he suspected she was loitering and trying to solicit work as a prostitute. The eight-year department veteran, who volunteered for a pilot body camera program, said Ortiz became combative and he felt his safety was threatened.
Authorities haven't released the body camera footage, citing a pending federal criminal excessive-force and obstruction case against Scavone.
A police report says it shows Ortiz's face bleeding after she was thrown to the ground, grabbed by the neck and slammed by her head on the hood of a patrol car. In her lawsuit, Ortiz claimed she suffered permanent injuries to her face, teeth, neck and back.
Potter has said he thinks Ortiz offended Scavone by throwing a cup of coffee on the ground and refusing to put her hands behind her back to be handcuffed.
The attorney said he believed there was no probable cause for the stop or the arrest, and called the case unusual because Scavone's body camera footage provided evidence of his conduct.
Lt. Daniel Zehnder, a supervisor in the department's body camera program, said Monday that he knew of no other cases in which a Las Vegas police officer was dismissed for conduct revealed by body camera footage.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, the elected head of the police department, said last week that at least 130 allegations of misconduct against police officers have been dismissed since the pilot program began in March 2014.
Zehnder said about 825 of the department's approximately 2,500 sworn officers are equipped with body cameras. Lombardo has said he wants to at least double that number by next year.
The civil lawsuit also named as defendants the department and a former corrections officer who was with Scavone when Ortiz was arrested. It had sought damages greater than $225,000 and a declaration that the department's use of a law banning loitering for prostitution was unconstitutional.
Scavone, 49, pleaded not guilty Jan. 20 in the criminal case, and is free pending trial Oct. 25. If convicted, he could face up to 30 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.
His attorney, Joshua Tomsheck, was out of town this week and didn't immediately respond to messages.