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Metro cop accused of using excessive force after body-cam video reviewed

Updated Tuesday, March 17, 2015 | 4:41 p.m.

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District Attorney Steve Wolfson talks during an interview Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013.

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Metro Undersheriff Kevin McMahill at the press conference on March 17, 2015.

A Metro Police officer is facing a misdemeanor battery count for using excessive force in detaining a woman earlier this year, according to the Clark County District Attorney’s Office.

The case was initiated, police said, after officials reviewed video from a body camera the officer was wearing.

Officer Richard Scavone approached the woman about 5 a.m. on Jan. 6 near Tropicana Avenue and Interstate 15 and told her she was loitering and needed to move along, the District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. He suspected she was there for the purpose of prostitution, officials said.

The woman responded by throwing a cup of coffee over her shoulder, not in the direction of the officer, and refused to leave, officials said.

Scavone got out of his car and while detaining the woman, he “used force and violence against her, which was not justified or required for purposes of his investigation,” the District Attorney’s Office said.

The woman initially was arrested on counts of littering and loitering for the purpose of prostitution, but the case was later dismissed, Metro Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said at a news conference today.

The counts were not supported by video captured by the officer's body camera, he said.

According to a Metro statement, after it was reported that the woman was injured, officials reviewed the video and launched a criminal investigation. The officer's actions were determined to be "unreasonable and excessive," the statement said.

Scavone, an eight-year veteran of the force, is on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the criminal case and an ongoing internal investigation, police said.

“This is the first time that I’m aware of that we are bringing criminal charges associated with the review of a body camera on an on-duty use of force incident,” McMahill said.

"We’re not going to shy away from bringing these incidents to light when the body camera captures actions of one of our officers that does not appear to be within the confines of law and policy,” McMahill said.

Police said they could not release the video, because it is part of the internal investigation.

About 200 Metro officers are wearing body cameras, which clip onto the the shoulder or pair of glasses, as part of a pilot program that started in November. Metro is seeking another 400 cameras in the 2015-16 budget, McMahill said.

A bill proposed in the state Legislature this year pushes for all officers in Nevada to wear cameras.

The the vast majority of police officers handle themselves in a professional and appropriate manner, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said. "For those who take it too far, there are consequences,” he said.

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