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Colorful Vegas Constable Faces Lawsuit

LAS VEGAS (CN) - A woman sued the Constable of Las Vegas, claiming he had her thrown in jail for two days after swearing out a declaration of arrest for bogus charges.

Teresa Johnson sued Las Vegas Constable John Bonaventura, individually and in his official capacity, and the Las Vegas Constable's Office, in Clark County Court.

Bonaventura has had a colorful reign since he was elected in 2010. He was arrested last week on suspicion of drunken driving in a constable's car. He claims the arrest was a setup meant to close his office.

The Las Vegas Sun mentioned that arrest in a Tuesday story that added: "Since Bonaventura was elected constable in 2010, his office has been dogged by controversies, including allegations of sexual harassment, the filming of a profanity-laced reality television show pilot and engaging in lawsuits against constable's offices in other jurisdictions."

Johnson claims that on Sept. 24, 2011, she and her son drove to Bonaventura's home to speak with her husband, Richard Johnson, who was staying with Bonaventura at the time.

The couple's son yelled something at the home, Johnson says, so she left in a gold Lincoln Town Car. She was tailed by an SUV with its emergency lights flashing.

Johnson says Bonaventura, wearing a white T-shirt and plaid shorts, was "holding sort of metal object in his hand" when he approached her car. She says he never identified himself as a law enforcement officer or showed a badge.

"Terrified and in immediate fear for her safety and well-being because she did not believe ... Bonaventura had the authority to pull people over," she says she drove off had her son dial 911.

Bonaventura continued to follow her, and when he pulled up beside her, Johnson says, she indicated that she had called 911. Bonaventura drove off, she claims.

Johnson says she filed an incident report with the Metropolitan Police Department.

Two days later, Bonaventura filed a declaration of arrest against her for "eluding a police officer" and "reckless driving," according to the complaint.

In his report, he claimed a young man yelled profanities at him and a woman threw eggs at his "patrol vehicle." But Johnson claims no eggs were thrown, and that her estranged husband signed an affidavit on March 7, 2012 stating: "I was not told by John that my wife has thrown eggs. I also know for a fact that there were no eggs on the vehicle or the driveway. I never heard this mentioned until my wife received a copy of John's complaint stating that she had thrown eggs and that is why he chased after her on that day."

Bonaventura also claimed that he followed the Town Car "due to recent acts of intimidation and vandalism against the property and occupants, and my position as the Las Vegas Constable, I felt it prudent to identify the occupants of the vehicle," according to the complaint, which cites his declaration of arrest.

But Johnson claims Bonaventura knew it was her because he had sold the gold Town Car to her and her husband.

On the day Johnson filed the declaration of arrest, Johnson says, two of his deputies showed up at her job, arrested and booked her and held her for two days at the Clark County Detention Center. She says one officer knocked a cell phone out of a friend's hand when he tried to call 911. She says the case against her was dropped.

Johnson seeks damages for negligence, negligent hiring, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and malicious prosecution.

She is represented by Craig W. Drummond.

Clark County commissioners have scheduled a vote in March on whether to abolish the Constable's Office. Its duties would be handled by Metro police and private process servers, according to the Sun.

The Las Vegas Review Journal interviewed Bonaventura as he left jail after the DUI arrest last week. "Bonaventura said 'his officers' were investigating his arrest," the Review Journal reported.

"We suspect foul play within the county," Bonaventura said.

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