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ACLU of Nevada files lawsuit against Las Vegas police, Rio Hotel

Posted at 11:00 AM, Aug 18, 2020

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada filed a lawsuit against the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the Rio hotel-casino on Monday.

The nonprofit claims 34 people - all Black - were arrested on Aug. 19, 2018, during a birthday party at a hotel suite at the Rio. The organization goes on to say that police called the event a "gang party," and shared pictures of those arrested on social media in a post referencing the "gang party," despite the fact that none were arrested for criminal gang activity.

In a press release to the media, the ACLU said:

On August 19, 2018, our plaintiffs and many others booked a suite at the Rio Hotel and gathered to celebrate a birthday party. Each of the 34 people in attendance that evening is Black.

The hotel knew there would be a party that night, and staff discussed the hotel’s noise policies with the ACLU of Nevada’s clients. Yet after 2 a.m., police officers, escorted by hotel staff, stormed into the suite. Each of the 34 guests was searched, handcuffed, and forced to sit in the hallway for up to 6 hours without access to water, food, or restroom facilities.

Officers administered pat-downs and record checks indiscriminately without any reasonable suspicion that any one individual had engaged, or would have engaged, in criminal activity.

No person at the birthday celebration was arrested for criminal gang activity, yet Las Vegas police broadcast to the public on social media that it had “broke up a large gang party” where “over a dozen documented gang members were arrested.” Because the department released photographs of several partygoers to the news media, several ACLUNV clients’ friends, family, and employers saw reports that they were arrested at a “gang party.”

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department told 13 Action News it does not comment on pending litigation.

Caesars Entertainment, the company that owns the Rio, also has no comment.