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Biker groups sue Las Vegas police, saying civil rights violated

June 26, 2012|By John M. Glionna
  • Members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club ride into Boulder City, Nev.
Members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club ride into Boulder City, Nev. (John Locher / Las Vegas Review-Journal )

LAS VEGAS – They have names such as the Mongols, Stray Cats, Vagos and Bandidos, and they’re fighting mad.

Several biker groups have sued Las Vegas and North Las Vegas police in federal court over civil rights violations, alleging systematic harassment by police.

The lawsuit was filed one day after members of the Mongols motorcycle group wrapped up a three-day national meeting in suburban Boulder City that brought police out in force to keep the peace.

In papers filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, an attorney representing members of the Mongols and other clubs allege that law enforcement pressured bars and hotels in Las Vegas to cancel events with members of the Mongols and the Vagos.

Police also improperly detained a member of the Stray Cats group; defamed a member of the Bandidos biker group who was fired from his job as a paramedic; and falsely arrested another Bandidos member, the lawsuit alleges.

Stephen Stubbs, a Las Vegas tax attorney who represents members of several biker clubs, told the Los Angeles Times last week prior to the Mongols meeting in Boulder City that the Mongols are not a gang and that they deserve to be left in peace to hold their meeting.

"It's going to be like a family reunion, with brothers who haven't seen each other in a long time getting together and then going home. An enormous police presence just isn't necessary," he said, adding, “The Mongols motorcycle club is not a criminal organization – it  is not a gang."

Las Vegas police said they can't comment on pending litigation, but authorities say the Mongols and Hells Angels have a history of violence in southern Nevada.

In 2002, three bikers were killed in a Mongols-Hells Angels clash inside a casino in nearby Laughlin. Six years later, the gangs brawled in a Las Vegas wedding chapel and two bikers were stabbed. Both lived.

Stubbs told the Associated Press on Tuesday: “These motorcyclists have the same constitutional rights as anyone else.... If the police aren't going to honor those rights, where is this country going?”

Stubbs said the lawsuit was not a response to the police actions in Boulder City. There, officers issued numerous jaywalking and driving summonses, and Boulder City Police Chief Tom Finn reported several misdemeanor arrests.

The suit, filed on behalf of a group called the Southern Nevada Confederation of Clubs and 78 individual plaintiffs, seeks nearly $12 million in damages from the two police departments, Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie and 15 Las Vegas Metropolitan and North Las Vegas police officers.

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