For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Bays
775.321.4307 (o); 775.771.6049 (c)
November 9, 2016 *Original Release Date*
Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks has released a report detailing his findings on a June 21, 2015 officer involved shooting (OIS) incident. The shooting occurred in the parking garage of the Silver Legacy Casino located in Downtown Reno during a confrontation between Reno Police Officers and an armed suspect who was shot and wounded after pulling a handgun. Finding that the shooting was justified under Nevada law, District Attorney Hicks has directed that the 38 page report detailing the facts of the incident and the legal analysis applied to the case be released to the public. A copy of the report can be accessed by visiting the Office’s website at https://www.washoecounty.us/da/
According to the investigation, a concerned citizen called 911 in the early morning hours of June 21, 2015 after witnessing a male subject, later identified as Arthur Dell Richardson Jr. point a handgun at the head of another male outside the Silver Legacy Resort Casino in downtown Reno. Officers with the Reno Police Department (RPD) were dispatched to locate Richardson and were being assisted by Silver Legacy security who had located Richardson on surveillance cameras based on the description provided in the 911 call. Surveillance personnel monitored Richardson as he made his way to the casino’s parking garage and directed responding RPD officers to his location. Three of the responding RPD officers entered the fourth level of the parking garage and made immediate contact with Richardson. Two of the three officers placed Richardson at gunpoint due to the call information relaying the suspect had pointed a gun at another. The third officer was designated to provide Taser coverage. All three officers were wearing full patrol uniforms, including badges and gave multiple verbal commands directing Richardson to show his hands and to get on the ground. Richardson refused to comply with the commands, and began walking backwards away from them. He continued to face the officers as he reached his right hand underneath his shirt and pulled out a .45 caliber handgun. Richardson then raised the handgun and pointed it towards the three officers. In direct response, the officer armed with the Taser drew his handgun, and all three officers fired at Richardson, who was struck numerous times. The three officers approached Richardson, moved his gun away from him and began life-saving measures. First aid was administered by RPD until REMSA arrived. Richardson was transported by ambulance to Renown Regional Medical Center where he was treated for his injuries, and survived. Surveillance video from the Silver Legacy captured the contact between Richardson and the RPD Officers, including the shooting. In addition, numerous witness statements were consistent with one another and the video surveillance. Richardson also admitted to pointing his handgun at the officers, stating that he clearly heard their commands but intended for them to shoot and kill him because he did not want to go back to jail.
Consistent with the regionally-adopted Officer Involved Shooting Protocol, the Sparks Police Department led the investigation into the shooting. The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office provided secondary investigative support and the Washoe County Crime Laboratory provided forensic services. The Washoe County District Attorney’s Office was notified in accordance with the OIS protocol and available at the scene to provide assistance with legal issues.
In June, 2016 the completed OIS investigation was submitted by the Sparks Police Department to the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office for a legal determination on whether the shooting was justified. The case included all police and forensic reports, collected documentation, photographs, witness statements, recorded audio and video of the incident, 911 and dispatch recordings, and recorded witness interviews. No criminal charges against the involved officers were recommended by the investigating agency. The District Attorney’s evaluation of the case included reviewing nearly 700 pages of reports and documents, all interviews of police and civilian witnesses, reviews of photographs, diagrams, video and audio recordings and examination of the scene of the shooting.
Based on this review, it is the opinion of the District Attorney that the shooting of Richardson was justified and not a criminal act. During the early morning hours of June 21, 2015, the RPD officers were called to locate Richardson, who had brazenly pointed a handgun at a person’s head in downtown Reno. Already an intense situation, the three involved officers were placed in a life-threatening situation when Richardson chose to point a loaded .45 caliber handgun at them. When the officers initially responded to address the threat Richardson posed, he was ordered multiple times to “get on the ground” and “show us your hands.” Richardson refused and immediately pulled his handgun and pointed it at them, giving the officers no choice but to fire their weapons in order to defend themselves and others. All three officers stated they were in fear for their lives and were in fear for the safety of the other individuals in the parking garage. The video surveillance corroborates their statements, as do the statements of all other witnesses to the incident. In addition, Richardson admitted he refused to comply with the officer’s commands because his intent was “for them to try to kill me.” Richardson explained that he preferred to die rather than “go to jail for a long time” since he was a convicted felon in possession of a gun.
Upon his review, DA Hicks concluded that Richardson’s decision to point a handgun at the Reno officers presented a clear, imminent, and legitimate threat to their safety. This threat absolutely justified the officers’ response in self-defense by employing deadly force and shooting Richardson. Therefore, based on the review of the entire investigation presented and the application of Nevada law to the known facts and circumstances surrounding the shooting of Richardson, the actions of the involved officers were found to be warranted under Nevada law. Unless new circumstances come to light which contradict the factual foundation upon which this decision is made, the District Attorney’s review of this case is officially closed.
Additional Information: Richardson was arrested by the Sparks Police department following his release from the hospital and this office subsequently filed formal criminal charges against him. Richardson ultimately plead guilty in December, 2015 to one count each of Assault With a Deadly Weapon Upon an Officer, Being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm, and Aiming a Firearm at a Human Being. Richardson was sentenced to concurrent sentences for each count totaling 6 years in prison with parole eligibility after 2 years. At sentencing, Richardson expressed remorse for having placed the police in the position they had to do given their profession, stating, “suicide by cop is not only a vulgar term, it’s a vulgar idea.”
A copy of the report prepared in this case has been made available on the District Attorney’s Office website at https://www.washoecounty.us/da/newsroom/reports.php.