LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Lawyers representing several legal observers who were arrested on Saturday held a press conference Thursday morning to discuss police interactions during protests in Las Vegas.
“We are grateful that we are not dealing with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department of 2010, but in 2020 you can see there’s still plenty of room for improvement," said Lisa Rasmussen, lawyer for Clark County public defenders John Piro, Christopher Peterson, and Belinda Harris.
The video showed Thursday was in response to a video the North Las Vegas Police Department issued about the arrest of Harris, after she claimed she was thrown to the ground.
“What you don’t see is the manner in which she is accosted from behind, without warning, where she’s then searched and put down on the ground. So, if you take issue with the word thrown, I think the video speaks for itself and shows what happened to my client”, said Rasmussen.
Legal observers are trained, volunteer lawyers, or members of the legal community who act as impartial witnesses during protests and public demonstrations where there might be a conflict between authorities and those looking to express their First Amendment rights. They take notes and record interactions between demonstrators and police, as well as act as a resource, sharing legal ways to express dissent.
On Tuesday, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Sheriff Joe Lombardo defended his department's actions over the weekend, claiming the legal observers were not acting as neutral witnesses and were participating in the protest.
Additionally, among those arrested were Emily Driscoll, Gabriela Molina, and Megan Hopper.
Attorney Dayvid Figler, who represents Driscoll, said in a statement that they didn’t want this to be the beginning of a series of black eyes for local police.
“We want a peaceful discussion so that more people don’t end up in violent confrontations with police. This can be done without chaos. Sadly, we saw chaos. We are calling for an open discussion. The job of the police is to protect all citizens and their rights, including their First Amendment rights. Legal observers are an important resource, a healthy part of our democracy”, said Figler.
Shortly after the news broke on Saturday that several legal observers were arrested, Gov. Steve Sisolak and Attorney General Aaron Ford also called for an investigation.
Watch Thursday's press conference below:
13 INVESTIGATES STORIES ON LAS VEGAS POLICE: