Lawsuit claims Metro officer's rights were violated

LAS VEGAS -- The fallout from the battle over rancher Cliven Bundy's cattle earlier this year took another twist Wednesday. 8 News NOW learned the police union is suing Metro stating the department violated an officer's rights. 

As the I-Team discovered, a Metro officer and two sergeants were demoted or reassigned following the police response to keep the peace outside Bunkerville with a Facebook comment being the issue. Both sides of the issue aren't talking, but the 21-page complaint outlines what the police union says happened behind closed doors in the weeks after the big confrontation between armed militia and law enforcement.

The movement started by rancher Cliven Bundy reached a flashpoint on April 12 with years of defiance in not paying the Federal Government to let his cattle graze on public lands, the issue led to an armed and heated confrontation with Federal Agents and police. Snipers posted up on a highway overpass and Metro officers felt they would die during the desert commotion.

Bundy spoke exclusively to 8 News NOW about the lawsuit by phone about the conflict.

"I was surprised Metro had those snipers out there, I knew the feds had them, but I didn't know Metro had them out there," Bundy said. "As far as a police officer of Metro, they probably had a policy saying 'hey don't talk' or you shouldn't say anything and while they did, evidently they were in trouble."

The Federal Government backed down and the Metro officers along with the SWAT team weren't hurt, but won't forget what happened.

According to the complaint, one SWAT officer, Russell Laws, wrote on a blog about the incident days later:

"I just wish you could see how big that guy prone with the rifles head was in the scope of the [law enforcement] snipers .308. Don't worry he wouldn't have felt a thing!!"

Officer Law eventually removed the post and told his lieutenant about the posting.

The lawsuit says Laws was told he wasn't going to be removed from the SWAT team for violating the department's social media policy, but just days later he was told he would be. 

The lawsuit also adds when requested an arbitrator hearing regarding his reassignment, an Internal Affairs Investigation was launched by Metro.

Laws' direct supervisor, Sgt. Mike Quick, said he defended the officer and then both were removed from the SWAT team.

This lawsuit alleges the Internal Metro Investigation came as retaliation for talking to and involving the police union.

The lawsuit also claims a Metro Lieutenant called Sgt. Quick "deceitful" and a "back stabber" for talking to the union about the reassignment -- adding both Officer Laws and Sgt. Quick have suffered pay loss and benefits and attorney fees.

Sgt. Quick's reassignment from the SWAT team to patrol was administrative for "failure to appreciate the seriousness of officer Law's actions." Quick said he will retire early to avoid a decrease in pay and ridicule.


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