Paul Lewis Browning, Finally Released Last August, Spent Three Decades on Nevada’s Death Row
LAS VEGAS, NV – After 32 years of wrongful imprisonment, most of it on death row, Paul Lewis Browning yesterday sued Las Vegas police who framed him for a 1985 murder-robbery on the city’s strip.
Browning was traveling to the East Coast to live near his mother when he was wrongfully accused and imprisoned for murder. Last August, he was finally freed and reunited with her.
Browning’s suit cites a long list of wrongdoing and outright fraud that caused his wrongful incarceration:
* Police suppressed the exculpatory witness identification of the most credible witness – the victim himself before he died. Instead they used the testimony of police informants, staying in the same hotel as Browning, suspected of lying in other cases and being the real perpetrators themselves, to point the finger at Browning.
* Police manipulated witnesses by using highly suggestive “show-up” identifications pointing to Browning rather than random line-ups.
* Police threw out their contemporaneous notes about Browning’s denials of committing the crime.
* Police misrepresented bloody footprint evidence that was exculpatory of Browning.
* Police fabricated witness statements.
The informants that police used to “solve” the crime had given dubious testimony in previous crimes, apparently to shield their own criminal activity. In Browning’s case, they invited him to their hotel room filled with jewelry that one of them had apparently stolen in the murder-robbery less than an hour before. Promising to return shortly, they left Browning in their hotel room and took some of the stolen merchandise with them.
Instead of returning, they spoke with the police and told them to go to their hotel room and find Browning.
A police search of Browning’s hotel room revealed none of the remaining merchandise nor the murder weapon. Despite a very bloody murder scene, a police search of Browning and his hotel room turned up no wounds consistent with a fight on his body, nor bloody clothes or shoes.
In 2004, the Nevada Supreme Court reversed the denial of Browning’s challenge to his death sentence, but he was resentenced to death on remand.
While he was being sentenced, again, to death, his attorneys appealed to federal court. In the end, even after DNA testing exculpated him, and lengthy proceedings in state court unearthed some of the previously-unknown suppression of evidence and other misconduct that caused his conviction, it took nine years more before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged that Browning’s due process rights had been violated.
Ultimately, it was not until August of 2019 that Browning was released from prison. But his injustice saga was still not over until the charges against him were finally dismissed with prejudice in January 2020.
“In addition to Mr. Browning, his mother, and their steadfast, 32 years’ insistence of his innocence, civil rights attorney Tim Ford of MacDonald Hoague Bayless should be acknowledged for fighting to get Browning’s exoneration,” said David B. Owens of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law, one of the attorneys in the new suit. “With this new suit, we hope Mr. Browning will get at least a small measure of justice for the decades-long trauma that he and his family have endured.”
Loevy & Loevy is one of the nation’s largest civil rights law firms has won more multi-million-dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the country. A copy of the today’s suit, Paul Lewis Browning v. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Lt. Greg Jolley, Lt. John Conner, Sgt. F. Jergovic, Sgt. C. Albert, Detective Sgt. Michael Bunker #653, Detective Sgt. T. Rosen, Detective Robert Leonard P#471, Detective H. Oren, Detective Bert Levos #144, Detective Thorton, Officer Gregory Branon P#2187, Officer Gary Caldwell, P#2301, Officer David Radcliffe, P#2191, Officer R. Robertson P#120, and Identification Specialist David R. Horn #C1928, Case # 2:20-cv-01381 is available here.