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August 28, 2015

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Zorro strikes again: Metro pays $105,000 in lawsuit by costumed character

A 2010 confrontation between Metro Police and a costumed Zorro character in front of the Venetian hotel will cost the department $105,000, after it agreed today to settle a lawsuit stemming from the incident.

In their lawsuit against the department, brothers Jason Perez-Morciglio and Sebastian Perez-Morciglio allege they were wrongly detained by Metro Police officers, who did not arrest the pair but allegedly placed them in handcuffs.

Members of Metro’s Fiscal Affairs Committee, which oversees the department’s budget, voted unanimously today to pay the settlement out of the department’s settlement insurance fund.

Commissioner Steve Sisolak, a member of the committee, said the decision was made to avoid future litigation costs and the possibility of a large court judgment against the police department.

“Our potential exposure could have been significantly more,” Sisolak said. “You try to minimize it as much as you can, and we have done a lot to minimize the claims...It’s a cost of doing business.”

The Jan. 15, 2010, incident started on the sidewalk in front of the Venetian, where Jason Perez-Morciglio was in costume, but his brother was not, according to court records.

A Venetian security guard approached Jason Perez-Morciglio after allegedly seeing him sell a sword to a tourist.

Perez-Morciglio denied selling anything but was asked to leave by the guard, who told him soliciting was not allowed on private property, records show.

When Perez-Morciglio insisted he was on the public sidewalk and refused to leave, he was handcuffed by guards and taken to the hotel security office, according to court documents.

Sebastian Perez-Morciglio was also detained after questioning what his brother had done wrong and refusing to leave.

Metro Police officers arrived about 20 minutes after the brothers were detained and briefly replaced the Venetian’s handcuffs with police handcuffs. The brothers were searched and given a trespass warning before being released without being charged, according to court documents.

The suit, filed on the brothers’ behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, alleged the department conducted an illegal search and violated the brothers’ First Amendment rights.

The Venetian and its parent company were initially named in the lawsuit but were dropped from the suit in March 2013, according to court documents.

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