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Henderson police chief asked to resign in wake of motorist beating

Image

Nevada Highway Patrol

A screen grab from the video of an incident with Henderson Police.

Updated Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 | 3:46 p.m.

Jutta Chambers

Jutta Chambers

Man kicked in the head by Henderson Police officer

Video footage from a Nevada Highway Patrol dashboard camera of a Henderson Police officer kicking a man in the head during a traffic stop, Feb. 7, 2012. Warning: The footage contains material that may be offensive.

Man kicked during traffic stop speaks out

KSNV coverage of a man speaking out after being kicked by a Henderson Police officer while he was having a medical episode, Feb. 8, 2012.

Henderson Police Chief Jutta Chambers has been asked to step down, City Hall sources said today.

The request came from the departing city manager, Mark Calhoun, who sources said was pressured to make the request by members of the Henderson City Council.

Another source said the most likely scenario will be that Chambers, if she goes along, will retire not resign.

Chambers, the first female officer in the police department's history, has been with the department for nearly 30 years. Since becoming chief in 2008, "she has done a lot of good, made a lot of changes in the department," a source said.

The call for her resignation follows the release last week of video showing Henderson Sgt. Brett Seekatz kicking a restrained driver in the head five times during an October 2010 traffic stop. The man was suffering a diabetic episode and was deemed “semi-conscious” by police at the scene.

Sources said that if City Council members pressured Calhoun to get rid of Chambers, that would be a violation of the city charter, which states that personnel decisions are solely the city manager’s call.

Calhoun could not be reached for comment and Chambers is on vacation this week. A city spokesman could not be reached.

Sources said that even though the request has been made, Chambers remains in her position. Deputy Police Chief James White is filling in while Chambers is on vacation.

The resignation request has angered officers in the department, sources said, because some believe Calhoun should have been asked to resign, instead.

“(Calhoun) has known about this (kicking incident) for well over a year,” a source said.

Meanwhile, Calhoun, who recently announced he will retire, was also forced out by the City Council, according to sources. Jacob Snow, head of the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada, is said to be in line to replace Calhoun.

The maneuvering stems from the public uproar over the Oct. 29, 2010 incident in which Seekatz kicked motorist Adam Greene, who was suffering from a diabetic reaction. Officers believed Greene was driving under the influence.

Seekatz was disciplined more than a year ago for the incident, sources say, but what form the discipline took is unknown since it’s a personnel matter and has not been made public.

A source said that even if city officials wanted to fire Seekatz now, they would not be able to since he was already disciplined for the incident a year ago. "You can't go back and do that," the source said.

The Sun obtained the dashboard camera video of the incident through a public records request with the Nevada Highway Patrol — Henderson police did not have dash cameras at the time.

Greene sued the state and Henderson. He and his wife agreed to a settlement of about $250,000 from Henderson and $35,000 from the state.

Now Clark County officials are considering installing dashboard cameras in Las Vegas police cruisers. The head of the police officers’ union, however, says installing those cameras is something that would need to be negotiated in the union contract.

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