LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Dueling motions filed in Federal Court propel a former police chief’s federal lawsuit against the City of Henderson and some of its employees to a crucial juncture, as a judge will decide if either side’s argument is strong enough to tilt the outcome in their favor.
The 8 News Now Investigators have reviewed the recent filings – known as summary judgment motions – in which each side says they have the goods against the other after several months of depositions of witnesses in the case and the plaintiff, former Henderson police chief LaTesha Watson.
Watson was fired in 2020, and claims her tenure at the helm of the department was sabotaged by racism, undermining by city officials, and a war with the police union.
“Watson was treated differently,” her attorney in downtown Las Vegas, Marc Cook, said. “She was treated lesser. Her complaints went nowhere. Her concerns went nowhere.”
Cook, and the complaint, allege that Watson complained to her superiors in Henderson on multiple occasions, but those complaints were ignored. Often, the court pleadings reveal, far more trivial complaints by other employees were investigated by law firms paid for by the city. But none of Watson’s complaints ever made it that far.
“The City of Henderson does investigate allegations of discrimination, they just didn’t as to Watson,” Cook says.
In one of the more damning allegations against the city, court documents reviewed by the 8 News Now Investigators show that when Watson was fired, she was given a termination letter that blamed her firing, among other things, on Watson’s war with the police union. But Watson recorded her quarterly review with the then-city manager Bristol Ellington. The 8 News Now Investigators have obtained that recording, in which Ellington says the union was the aggressor.
“I personally think they’re in a full war to get rid of you,” Ellington says in the recording.
A spokesman for the City of Henderson responded to an email requesting an on-camera interview. “We do not comment on pending litigation,” Senior Public Information Officer Madeleine Skains wrote to 8 News Now. Most of the defendants also had a written no comment.
“Unfortunately, with short notice and Friday a weekend at the City, we do not have authority to provide a comment. I have, however, attached a copy of the Motion for Summary Judgment that the City filed the same day as the Plaintiff. I would encourage you to read it so you have a more complete understanding of the dispute. “
Meanwhile, the current police chief in Henderson announced his retirement earlier this year. His last day is Feb. 28. The chief, Thedrick Andres, was also deposed in the Watson case.