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Ex-North Vegas Officer's Lawyer Protests Video | Crime

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Ex-North Vegas Officer's Lawyer Protests Video
Crime

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- An attorney who won acquittal for a former North Las Vegas police officer on a false report charge is protesting the release of a casino detention room surveillance video showing his client watching another officer throw a handcuffed man to the floor.

Attorney Richard Schonfeld on Wednesday called it "offensive" that the video was made public days after a Nevada jury found former officers James Balelo and Mark Alan Miles not guilty in the December 2008 incident.

"Egg is on the face of the North Las Vegas Police Department," said Schonfeld, who represents Balelo. "They should know when to stand down and respect the judicial process."

North Las Vegas police Sgt. Tim Bedwell said the video was released in response to a Las Vegas television station public records request. Bedwell said the recording wasn't released earlier because the investigation was ongoing and then trial was pending.

"We always respect the decision of the jury," Bedwell said.

A North Las Vegas judge viewed the video in July 2009 before ordering Balelo and Miles to stand trial, and the recording was shown to the Clark County District Court jury that acquitted the two men Friday following a four-day trial.

Balelo, 28, is now trying to get his job back, Schonfeld said.

Miles, also 28, has moved out of state and has not applied to get his job back, his lawyer said. He faced both misdemeanor filing a false report and felony oppression under color of office charges.

Augustas Claus, attorney for Miles, said police fired his client and pressed criminal charges based on an incomplete review of a video that also showed an "uncooperative, profane, overwrought and violent" man kicking the door to the detention cell before police arrived.

"The jury saw the whole video," Claus said, adding that the man later apologized to casino personnel, told police he didn't want to pursue the matter, and testified at trial that he didn't believe criminal charges were appropriate.

Balelo and Miles were fired in January 2009 after a departmental investigation of the arrest of the 31-year-old California man accused of causing a disturbance and waving a bottle around at a bar at the Cannery Casino & Hotel.

Bedwell called the dismissals separate from the criminal case, and said the department was fighting Balelo's effort to return to his old job.

"An officer's behavior has to meet a higher standard," Bedwell said.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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