Police Tell a Different Tale of Tense Incident

     LAS VEGAS (CN) – Henderson, Nev. police say a family didn’t tell the whole story in a lawsuit that accused officers of malicious prosecution and constitutional violations.
     The Mitchell family sued the police department on July 1, claiming officers arrested and maliciously prosecuted them for refusing to allow their homes to be used as lookouts for a domestic violence investigation of some neighbors.
     Anthony Mitchell lives in a house close to his parents, Michael and Linda Mitchell, on Eveningside Avenue.
     In the Mitchells’ complaint , they claimed that Henderson and North Las Vegas police commandeered their house, in violation of the Third Amendment, then arrested them when they objected.
     Anthony Mitchell claimed that officers broke down his door, fired pepperballs at him and his dog and arrested him for obstructing a police officer. He said officers searched his home and made it into a lookout post.
     His parents made similar complaints in the same lawsuit. Michael Mitchell claimed officers arrested him for obstructing a police officer when he did not stay at a police post and tried to leave the area. Linda claimed that officers grabbed her, forced her out of her home and took it over, went through all the rooms and even ate some of their food.
     After Courthouse News reported the Mitchells’ lawsuit, on July 3, Henderson police contacted the news service and supplied two arrest declarations that paint a different picture of what happened.
     The declarations of arrest claim the Mitchells refused to follow officers’ orders as police tried to evacuate the immediate area; that the Mitchell men spoke via cell phone, apparently to the suspect; and that police arrested Anthony after encountering him wearing body armor and loading a rifle.
     Ellipses below mark sections of the declarations that have been blacked out.
     According to the declaration for Anthony’s arrest: “On July 10, 2011, at approximately 0722 hours, officers were dispatched to … reference a domestic battery and coercion … Residents of Eveningside were called by Henderson dispatch and told to shelter in place. Investigation revealed Michael Mitchell (DOB – 58) who lives at 362 Eveningside, is close friends with … and was calling him to update what police were doing outside. Even further investigation revealed that Michael’s son, Anthony Mitchell (DOB – 87) lived at 367 and was also relaying information to the suspect. Several times during the incident both men exited their houses, had verbal exchanges with officers on the perimeter and then went back inside. Repeated attempts to get them to cooperate with police met with negative results.
     “Due to the severity of the call H.P.D. S.W.A.T., N.L.V.P.D. S.W.A.T., CNT and a command post were activated. S.W.A.T. officers began systematically evacuating neighboring residence. Michael and his wife initially refused to exit after given orders to evacuate. After negotiations with CNT officers, Michael and his wife exited without incident.
     “Anthony ignored orders by S.W.A.T. officers to exit his residence due to the emergency situation. S.W.A.T. officers made entry and found Anthony wearing a ballistic vest and loading ammunition into a rifle magazine. He was taken into custody and transported to the command post with the rest of the residents who were evacuated. Photos were taken of Anthony wearing the ballistic vest and later booked into digital evidence at the substation.”
     “Due to the fact Anthony did willfully and unlawfully, by refusing to evacuate at the scene of an emergency, disobey orders from peace officers and conducted himself in a disorderly manner that interfered with the control of such an emergency, he was placed under arrest for the following: NRD 475.070 Interference with peace officer, firefighter or member of search and rescue organization; disobedience of orders.”
     According to the arrest declaration for Michael Mitchell, he gave officers more trouble after his son was arrested.
     Most of the first 1½ pages of Michael’s arrest declaration are redacted. One page then appears with only minor redactions, then another blacked out portion begins.
     The six ellipses below mark redactions, each of which appears to be of just one word. The relatively unedited portion states: “As officers were holding positions in the area, Michael exited the home and began to look at what was occurring. I observed him to be on his cellular phone and believed he was communicating with … . Michael exited on two more occasions. On one occasion, Officer Walls P1276 asked Michael to come over to her or to stay inside the home. On the second time, believing the Michael may be relaying our positions or compromising our safety, Officer Feola ordered Michael to walk over to him. Michael was aware of Officer Feola’s presence and disregarded his lawful order and went back inside the home.
     “A check of calls for service showed that a gun has been registered to 362 Eveningside approximately one month ago. Officers could see a rifle with a scope leaning up against the house and a handgun sitting on the back table. The weapons were later determined to be airsoft guns.
     “I called the number listed on the gun registration call and spoke with a male who stated that he is aware of our presence. I asked him to voluntarily comply with evacuating the home and he stated that he would not leave the home. He stated that once he leaves the home, then all of his civil rights are gone. I advised him that I was only interested in having him leave the residence and that officers were not attempting to do anything more than that. I further advised of safety concerns due to him being directly across the street from … home. Michael was not cooperative on the phone and went off on tangents that included the North and South in the civil war. He further stated that he went through the Police academy and knows what we are doing more than we do. I told him that officers will be evacuating homes in the area of concern and that we needed him to exit. The phone disconnected mid-conversation. Several more times, Michael exited into his backyard and looked over the wall at Officer Walls while on a cell phone causing her to distract from the target house and to treat Michael as a person of concern. Officer Walls continued to tell Michael to stay inside his home and he repeatedly violated her order. Officer Walls advised me that Michael made statements that referenced that he did not have to fucking talk to us and that he had nothing to do with what was going on across the street. Officer’s later confirmed that Michael was in fact in communication with … on the phone and officers had to use additional resources to treat Michael as a potential safety concern.
     “Officers, along with a crises negotiator, contacted Michael and his wife, at the back door. Initially, he locked the door and after additional attempts to ask him to come to the door, he opened the door a few inches. While standing at the door with his large dog, he stated that … is not a threat and that the police did not need to be here. When asked to come outside, he stated that he would not exit. He further showed officer’s the threshold of the door and referenced that he would not cross it and the officer’s are not to cross it. We told him that we needed him to exit for safety concerns and he again stated that … was not a threat. He added that … was a bounty hunter and a black belt in martial arts. While speaking with him, a son identified as Jim Mitchell jumped over the back wall. I asked Jim to speak with me and Jim stated that he had been talking to his father on the phone and learned about the ongoing incident. Jim stated that he came over to see what was going on. In an attempt to have Michael exited the home to prevent him from compromising the safety of officers and himself he was asked to come to the command post to assist in the investigation. Michael and Jim reluctantly responded to the command post.
     “Further intelligence gathered confirmed that Michael had an adult son identified as Anthony Mitchell living in 367 Eveningside. Officers observed a male observing officers in the window and taking pictures and possibly video. He was also using a cellular phone. Due to the possibility that Anthony could be relaying officer locations, including video, thereby compromising safety, and the safety concerns for Anthony due to the close proximity of … home, he was ordered to evacuate, which met with negative results. Several attempts were made to contact Anthony via telephone and messages were left. North Las Vegas SWAT contacted him through the window and told him to evacuate the home. Anthony ignored the commands. North Las Vegas ultimately breached the front door and contacted Anthony inside as he was wearing body armor and loading an assault rifle. He was arrested by Officer Walter P1460 under DR 11-12592 and documented under NVLPD Report 11071012809. See Officer Walter’s report for additional details about the arrest of Anthony Mitchell.” [This is the report already quoted, above.]
     After a blacked out section of about one-quarter of a page, the arrest report on Michael concludes: “Due to Michael being noncompliant with Officer Feola’s lawful command to come to him and ignored his command and went back inside the home and that officer Walls issued repeated order’s for Michael to stay inside the home and that several times he exited the home while on the phone causing safety concerns and additional resources being utilized for address his non-compliance, he was placed into custody and charged with obstructing peace officer.
     “Officer Feola transported both … Michael to the Henderson Detention Center separately where they were booked accordingly.” [The ellipsis again marks the elision of what appears to be one word.]
     According to the City of Henderson’s website, the police department cannot comment further on the incident due to the pending lawsuit.

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