APPLETON - The family of an Appleton man who died in Las Vegas police custody in 2019 has settled with the city of Las Vegas for more than $2 million, according to their attorneys.
Nicholas Farah, described by family and friends as a dedicated worker and doting father to his two girls, died under restraint while in police custody during a family vacation to the popular Nevada city.
Farah, 36, stopped breathing after being taken into custody because he allegedly was trespassing at a hotel; a coroner later ruled his death a homicide by suffocation, with methamphetamine intoxication and obesity as contributing factors.
His family settled the case for $2.35 million, Sarah Grady, an attorney for the family, told the Post-Crescent. In exchange, the family dropped a federal lawsuit alleging excessive force, wrongful death and negligence.
None of this had to happen, Farah's brother, Eric, of Tempe, Arizona, said in a statement released by the family's attorneys.
"How many killings is enough?," Eric Farah said. He said Vegas detention officers "acted monstrously toward my brother," saying Nicholas Farah was the victim of a "restraint chair" that he was in when he stopped breathing.
The family sued the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, five corrections officers and a police officer who were involved in Farah’s detention and death in March 2019.
“There should be a price to pay when you dehumanize people,” Grady said. “Nick was not just another person being arrested for most vanilla of criminal charges. He was a father, a son, a brother. He was incredibly valued by his family. A jury would see how his treatment was clearly dehumanizing.”
Officer Larry Hadfield, a Las Vegas police spokesman, declined immediate comment, according to The Associated Press.
Police said Farah became unconscious after jail officers pressed his body forward while he was seated in the restraint chair — with his face near his knees and his arms pulled back — for about 75 seconds while officers replaced one set of handcuffs on his wrists with another.
Farah was pronounced dead at a hospital less than 90 minutes later.
He had been arrested at a motel where an employee told police he walked in and refused to leave.
Police said Farah called 911 and taxi companies seeking a ride to the Las Vegas airport, where he had arrived several hours earlier following a family vacation in California. But when taxis arrived, he refused service.
In one 911 call, Farah “stated that he had been drinking” and reported that his backpack and cellphone had been stolen by a stranger who punched him while they were walking, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said in a March 2020 report that cleared officers in Farah’s death. Farah told the dispatcher he wanted to remain anonymous, didn’t want to press charges and that he was trying to catch a flight home to Wisconsin.
Police said Farah struggled with several patrol officers while he was being put in a patrol car.
Wolfson found no criminal wrongdoing, saying there was “no evidence of any intent to kill on the party of any officer.”
“Officers were not committing an unlawful act as they attempted to remove his handcuffs,” the prosecutor said.
Video from the jail showed that after officers there replaced Farah’s handcuffs and returned him to an upright position in the restraint seat, a medical staffer noticed he was unconscious.
Farah’s family sued the department and officers in April 2020.
Eric Farah said in a statement Monday that restraint chairs should be banned in jails.
“It was very clear that the Las Vegas Metro Police Department acted belligerently and monstrously towards my brother,” Eric Farah said. “I’d love to see the restraint chair completely removed ... along with measures and precautions put into effect so this never happens to another family.”
Matt Piper and The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Contact Doug Schneider at (920) 431-8333, or DSchneid@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PGDougSchneider
This article originally appeared on Appleton Post-Crescent: Appleton man's family settles lawsuit over his death in Las Vegas jail