Las Vegas Sun

February 6, 2023

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Metro settles civil rights case for $800,000

Metro Police must pay a San Diego man about $800,000 to not pursue a $1 million judgment he won, then lost, after being acquitted in a Las Vegas murder case, a source said.

Howard Haupt sued after his civil rights were allegedly violated by a Metro homicide detective during his criminal trial. Haupt is expected to receive about $300,000, with the remaining $500,000 to pay his legal bills, the source said Monday.

Haupt's lawsuit alleged that retired Detective Tom Dillard was malicious in efforts to convict him in the 1987 slaying of 7-year-old Alexander Harris of Mountain View, Calif.

The boy disappeared from Whiskey Pete's casino on the California-Nevada border Nov. 27, 1987. His body was found under a nearby trailer a month later.

Haupt, who was staying at Whiskey Pete's at the time of the boy's disappearance, was found innocent in 1989.

A Las Vegas federal jury originally awarded Haupt $1 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages. But U.S. District Judge Philip Pro overturned the $1 million award because he believed it excessive and ordered a new trial.

Metro and Haupt's attorneys agreed to settle rather than take the case before a second jury.

The breakdown was calculated through a formula based on legal fees. Metro and Haupt's attorneys agreed to let a federal judge decide the amount of those fees.

On Monday, Pro ordered Metro to pay about $500,000 in attorney fees. Haupt's attorneys said they spent more than $750,000 in pursuing the case. Police attorneys could not be reached for comment.