Vegas police officer sentenced to prison for excessive force
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A former Las Vegas police officer was sentenced Friday to a year in federal prison for a civil rights violation, after his body camera showed him slamming a woman’s head against his patrol vehicle and dragging her to the ground three years ago.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada and several area attorneys active in police abuse cases said they could not immediately recall another Las Vegas police officer being sentenced to prison for similar excessive force.
Richard Thomas Scavone, 51, also was sentenced to an additional year of supervised release for what the woman’s former lawyer once called unjustified “street justice” after she was accused of loitering for purposes of prostitution.
The attorney, noted civil rights advocate Cal Potter, died last year
Scavone’s attorney, federal public defender Nisha Brooks-Whittington, did not immediately respond Friday to messages seeking comment.
Scavone acknowledged that he repeatedly hit the handcuffed woman’s head on the hood of his patrol car, grabbed her around the neck and threw her to the ground.
The police department agreed in July 2016 to pay the woman $200,000 to settle a civil rights lawsuit after she claimed she suffered permanent injuries to her face, teeth, neck and back.
Scavone was an eight-year police officer who was suspended after the allegations came to light and he was arrested on state charges including felony oppression under color of office, and misdemeanor battery and filing a false report.
A federal grand jury indicted Scavone in 2016, and the case was turned over to U.S. prosecutors.
Scavone’s sentence by U.S. District Judge Richard Boulware followed his guilty plea last September to a misdemeanor federal charge of deprivation of rights under color of law. His was ordered to surrender on April 11.
Scavone was the first officer dismissed for conduct revealed by body camera footage.
ACLU legal chief Amy Rose called his sentence an example of body cameras bringing abuses to light and providing justice for victims.
During the past two years, Las Vegas police have deployed nearly 2,000 cameras among the department’s more than 2,700 officers, making them standard equipment for patrol, SWAT, K-9 and traffic divisions.
Another officer, Kenneth Lopera, retired from the department in October after camera footage from a casino foot chase and arrest led to charges of involuntary manslaughter and oppression under color of office in the death of a man he put in an unauthorized chokehold.
Lopera could face up to eight years in state prison if convicted of the charges.
Two other officers were sent to prison in 2010 for their convictions in an off-duty drive-by shooting in 1996.
Ronald Mortensen was sentenced to life without parole for murder, and Christopher Brady served a nine-year federal sentence for driving the vehicle.