Family: Vegas police to pay $2.35M in jail restraint death
LAS VEGAS (AP) — The family of a tourist who died in Las Vegas after being strapped to a restraint chair in jail following his arrest on a trespassing charge has agreed to a $2.35 million settlement with the police department, their attorney said Monday.
Relatives of Nicholas Farah, 36, of Appleton, Wisconsin, agreed to drop their federal excessive force, wrongful death and negligence lawsuit against the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, five corrections officers and a police officer who were involved in Farah’s detention and death in March 2019, family attorney Sarah Grady said.
“There should be a price to pay when you dehumanize people,” Grady said. “Nick was not just another person being arrested for the most vanilla of criminal charges. He was a father, a son, a brother. He was incredibly valued by his family. A jury would see how his treatment was clearly dehumanizing.”
Officer Larry Hadfield, a police spokesman, declined immediate comment about the settlement.
The amount topped a reported $2.2 million agreement in 2020 with several relatives of Tashii Brown, a 40-year-old Las Vegas man who died in 2017 after being hit with stun gun jolts and put in a neck restraint by a police officer outside a Las Vegas casino.
In Farah’s case, the Clark County coroner ruled his death a homicide resulting from asphyxia during restraint procedures. Farah’s autopsy called methamphetamine intoxication and obesity “significant contributing conditions.”
Police said Farah, a father of two, became unconscious after jail officers pressed his body forward while he was seated in the restraint chair — with his face near his knees and his arms pulled back — for about 75 seconds while officers replaced one set of handcuffs on his wrists with another.
Farah was pronounced dead at a hospital less than 90 minutes later.
He had been arrested at a motel where an employee told police he walked in and refused to leave.
Police said Farah called 911 and taxi companies seeking a ride to the Las Vegas airport, where he had arrived several hours earlier following a family vacation in California. But when taxis arrived, he refused service.
In one 911 call, Farah “stated that he had been drinking” and reported that his backpack and cellphone had been stolen by a stranger who punched him while they were walking, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said in a March 2020 report that cleared officers in Farah’s death. Farah told the dispatcher he wanted to remain anonymous, didn’t want to press charges and that he was trying to catch a flight home to Wisconsin.
Police said Farah struggled with several patrol officers while he was being put in a patrol car.
Wolfson found no criminal wrongdoing, saying there was “no evidence of any intent to kill on the part of any officer.”
“Officers were not committing an unlawful act as they attempted to remove his handcuffs,” the prosecutor said.
Video from the jail showed that after officers there replaced Farah’s handcuffs and returned him to an upright position in the restraint seat, a medical staffer noticed he was unconscious.
Farah’s family sued the department and officers in April 2020.
His brother, Eric Farah of Tempe, Arizona, said in a statement Monday that the use of restraint chairs should be banned in jails.
“It was very clear that the Las Vegas Metro Police Department acted belligerently and monstrously towards my brother,” Eric Farah said. “I’d love to see the restraint chair completely removed ... along with measures and precautions put into effect so this never happens to another family.”