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You Paid for It: The cost of cops' mistakes

Posted at 6:00 PM, Feb 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-22 22:09:52-05

When cops run a stop sign and crash into someone, you pay for it. 

When they use excessive force, you pay for it. 

At least that's the case for taxpayers today. 

Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears looks at how much you're paying for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's mistakes.

"All in favor, cast your vote."

That's the sound of more than $137,000 tax dollars being approved for payout by the LVMPD Fiscal Affairs Committee. The result of two lawsuit settlements over mistakes Metro made that we have to pay for. 

Phoenix resident Jerry Hartrim sued Metro for an alleged false arrest. 

In 2008, the then-66-year-old was in town for a senior citizens softball tournament. 

He was the victim of a room invasion by a woman at Sam's Town, who he and his wife discovered in their hotel room, using their belongings. 

Hartrim called police, who arrived with hotel security.

According to his lawyer, C.J. Potter, "He steps out into the hallway and says, 'How did this woman get in my room?!' And then within one minute of the police officers arriving, they chose to grab Hartrim, pushed him up against the wall, pointed a taser at him, threw him into the other wall on the other side of the hallway, handcuffed him and then put him in a police car."

Police have been fighting the case for years, going all the way to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

"I can't even believe the officers when they said what he did," said U.S. Circuit Judge N. Randy Smith at an April, 2015 hearing.

Metro's lawyer argued that officers used the least amount of force possible to avoid having to use more after Hartrim became aggravated.

"Handcuffing is a highly intrusive measure," said Judge Smith. "This isn't the least you can do. The least you can do is say, 'Hey, yahoo!  Calm down and stand over there and quit yapping around!'"

The three-judge panel didn't buy Metro's argument, saying the case deserved to go before a jury. 

But as of Monday, it was settled with $50,000 of your tax dollars. 

Another $87,500 tax dollars went to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who was hit by a LVMPD officer who ran a stop sign at a four-way intersection.

When you add in legal expenses for police to fight these two cases before deciding to settle, you get a total of more than $260,000.

And you paid for it.