Young Nevada Black Man Falsely Arrested For Amazing Resemblance To Old White Guy
Way too many innocent Black people have been falsely convicted as a result of mistaken identity. Newfangled facial recognition technology is as good at telling Black people apart as their white coworkers. In 2020, Detroit police arrested Robert Williams outside his suburban house in front of his wife and young children. Williams was in jail for 30 hours before the cops realized they had the wrong guy. In 2019, Nijeer Parks spent 10 days in jail and paid about $5,000 to defend himself against charges that he’d shoplifted candy and, while presumably on a sugar high, tried to run over a cop. Parks was 30 miles away from the actual crime, but the police department wasn’t interested in basic geography when it had facial recognition technology.
However, racist technology doesn’t explain what happened to Shane Lee Brown, who was arrested at a traffic stop in January 2020 after failing to show his license. Las Vegas police discovered a warrant for Shane Neal Brown, which is a different name. Criminals might assume false identities but they usually take the effort to change more than their middle name.
Shane Lee Brown spent six days in jail, and during his extended stay, he desperately tried to convince two Nevada police departments that he wasn’t Shane Neal Brown. This shouldn’t have been difficult. Shane Lee Brown was a 5-foot-7, 23-year-old Black man, and Shane Neal Brown was a 5-foot-11, 49-year-old white man with a scraggly ass beard. There was little resemblance. This is why it’s important to see race.
Black man in Nevada spent six days in jail after police mistook him for suspect with same name who is white and twice his age, lawsuit sayshttps://bbc.in/3rQmupY— BBC News (World) (@BBC News (World)) 1643124095
Shane Lee Brown is obviously suing. We don’t know what legal action Shane Neal Brown is taking.
Shane Lee Brown alleges that the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the Henderson Police Department violated his constitutional rights, acted negligently and falsely imprisoned him.
“Had any of the LVMPD police or corrections officers performed any due diligence, such as comparing Shane Lee Brown’s booking photo against the existing mug shot belonging to the older, white ‘Shane Brown’ named in the warrant … they would have easily determined that Shane Lee Brown has been misidentified as the subject of the warrant,” the lawsuit states.
In a statement to the Post, Kathleen Richards, a spokeswoman for the city of Henderson, defended Shane Lee Brown’s arrest “for driving with a suspended license and for a contempt of court, failure to pay warrant issued by Henderson Municipal Court.” Driving with a suspended license is a legitimately serious offense but Brown was never actually charged or convicted of anything. And wasn’t the outstanding warrant for the wrong guy? Whoopsie!
When police pulled over Shane Lee Brown, he didn’t have his driver’s license on him, so the cops actually couldn’t prove it was suspended. (He might’ve just forgotten it. There’s a difference.) He offered the cops his name, Social Security number, and Social Security card. Then the officers found the outstanding bench warrant for a gun charge for an unrelated white man with a different name.
Shane Lee Brown was taken into custody and after two days, the police still wouldn’t listen to his story. He was transferred to the Clark County Detention Center. Brown kept pushing the “I’m not Shane Neal Brown” defense. It’s important to keep your stories straight. Four days later, Brown's public defender scored a slam dunk court victory by proving that his young Black client was not the middle-aged white man. I wonder if the lawyer's already on President Joe Biden’s list for future judicial vacancies.
It’s so straight-up scary being Black in America. It’s bad enough when cops confuse us for suspects with roughly the same melanin quotient. Now they’re locking us up because we share a white guy’s name, and if you saw Roots, you know that wasn’t even our choice. Maybe we should all switch back to clearly African names to stay on the safe side.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."