Former Las Vegas Mayor accused of racial discrimination

New Mexico

LAS VEGAS, N.M. (KRQE) – The legal battle between the former Las Vegas Mayor and the then-Deputy Police Chief continues. Former Mayor Tonita Gurule-Giron is accused of making a racist comment while explaining why she’d be denying the police officer a promotion. Now, the defense team is trying to remove one of those comments from the record.

“Her response was, and I’m quoting from an affidavit from Mr. Howell, ‘I’m not going to promote that monkey,'” said Merit Bennett, Kenneth Jenkins’ attorney. That’s the alleged comment then-Mayor Tonita Gurule-Giron made to former Las Vegas City Councilman Vincent Howell when he asked her if she would be promoting Deputy Police Chief Kenneth Jenkins, to Chief of Police.

“Kenneth didn’t learn about this statement until recently, and then, of course, he told me,” said Bennett. The comment has recently been added to a 17-page lawsuit, against Gurule-Giron. In that lawsuit, Jenkins claims he was passed up for a promotion because of his race. “It was a very revealing statement because it reveals the mayor’s intent to discriminate against my client,” said Bennett.

Now the City of Las Vegas is trying to get that new comment removed from the record. In a motion filed by the city, they claim attorney Merit Bennet participated in ethical misconduct when he approached the former councilman for his statement.

They say Merit should have gotten their permission to talk to Howell because he was “a party to the lawsuit,” but Meritt says he didn’t need their permission, because Howell is no longer employed by the City. “They want to keep this out of evidence,” said Bennett.

We asked the City’s attorney’s why they’re filing a motion to strike that comment from the record. In a statement, they said, “We are going to try our case in the courtroom, not on TV.”

The embattled Gurule-Giron resigned in January after being accused of steering city contracts to her boyfriend’s company. She pleaded not guilty to bribery and illegal kickback charges.

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