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Jail guards cleared in inmate's death

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A review board has cleared nine jail guards of wrongdoing in the case of a French inmate who died after a struggle with corrections officers.

The internal police department panel voted unanimously late Friday to clear the officers in connection with the Jan. 4 asphyxiation of Philippe Le Menn, 33, in a jail cell.

The officers could have faced suspension or termination had the board found they failed to follow department policies.

The officers were allowed to return to work after a coroner's inquest jury found Feb. 24 that they were not criminally responsible.

Le Menn's cousin, Philip Moreau, said he wasn't surprised by the board's ruling.

Earlier this month, Le Menn's family filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against the officers, the police department and the county sheriff.

"I have no trust in it," Moreau told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I went to the inquest before with some kind of hope. But looking at the inquest, whatever comes from Las Vegas, I have no hope."

Like the coroner's inquest, the board provided no opportunity for meaningful cross-examination of witnesses, said Gary Peck, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada.

Moreau is asking the French government to pressure the Justice Department to step up its probe for possible civil rights violations in Le Menn's death.

The 6-foot-2, 277-pound Le Menn was arrested Jan. 4 after a disturbance outside a Las Vegas elementary school.

His family acknowledges that Le Menn did not cooperate with officers and that he banged on his cell door with a food tray.

But the family insists Le Menn never would have threatened to harm officers.

Le Menn's death struggle, captured on a jail surveillance camera and broadcast in the United States and France, turned the spotlight on the jail.

Le Menn was the 25th person to die at the jail since 1997.