An award-winning Las Vegas cop who lost his job last year after his body cam showed him attacking a woman suspected of prostitution is now facing federal charges.
The video has not been released but it federal investigators says it shows Richard Scavone handcuffing the woman before grabbing her around the neck and throwing her to the ground, then striking her in the forehead with an open palm and slamming her face against the hood of his car multiple times on January 6, 2015.
The woman, left with “bodily injury,” was charged with littering and loitering. Charges against her were dismissed.
It appears as if Scavone lost his temper after the woman threw a cup of coffee over her shoulder – not in his direction – after he told her to move from the sidewalk where she was standing, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
He then falsified a use-of-force report about the incident, claiming he had to attack her for “officer safety,” which led to him losing his job two months later after his supervisors reviewed the body cam footage.
Scavone had said on the initial arrest report that the woman was combative and pulling away from his grip. The officer also said that she was reaching around her bra area, which threatened his safety.
But a detective who investigated the woman’s complaint of excessive force reported inconsistencies between Scavone’s version of the events and what the body-camera video showed. According to the detective’s March 12 report, the woman was put in handcuffs within a minute of the officer getting out of his vehicle. She was then seen on video being thrown to the ground, grabbed by the neck and slammed by her head on the hood of the patrol car three times.
Police have declined to make the video available. But the detective who investigated Scavone reported that the officer made at least four misleading or false statements surrounding his claim that the woman was resisting arrest, used unreasonable and excessive force and didn’t have probable grounds to arrest her. The investigation report also quotes the woman as saying to Scavone: “You’re abusing me for no reason.”
He was charged with misdemeanor battery by the Clark County District Attorney’s Office around the same time.
But on Tuesday, a federal grand jury indicted him on charges that he violated the woman’s civil rights by using excessive force, then lying about it.
Scavone plans to plead not guilty to all charges, according to his attorney. He is due in court for the federal and local charges on January 20.
Shortly after he was charged with misdemeanor battery last year, another man came forward and told local media that he was also a victim of Scavone’s abuse. That video is below.
In 2010, he was placed on administrative leave after shooting a burglary suspect. A few months later, he received a “Meritorious Service Award,” according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s website.