For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Bays
775.321.4307 (o); 775.771.6049 (c)
Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks has released a comprehensive public report on the February 6, 2017 Officer Involved Shooting (OIS) incident involving the Reno Police Department (RPD) and Ronald Eugene Bailey III, 35,. On that date, RPD patrol officers were dispatched to a report of a fight at a downtown Reno motor lodge. When the RPD officers arrived, they encountered Bailey, who was repeatedly stabbing a male victim with a knife. Bailey responded to the officer’s commands to stop by assaulting one of the officers with the knife. Bailey was then shot. He was treated at an area hospital and survived his injuries. The OIS protocol was initiated and the case was submitted to this office for a determination of whether the shooting was legally justified. A criminal case related to the stabbing was also submitted and Bailey was ultimately sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of Battery with the Use of a Deadly Weapon Resulting in Substantial Bodily Harm and one count of Resisting a Public Officer with a Dangerous Weapon.
Finding that the shooting RPD officer was justified in his actions, District Attorney Hicks has released a 21 page report detailing his conclusions and the legal analysis applied to the case. A copy of the report will be made available on the WCDA’s office’s website at https://www.washoecounty.us/da/newsroom/reports.php
Facts of the Case:
At approximately 4:30 p.m. on February 6, 2017, two RPD patrol officers were dispatched to the 7/11 Motor Lodge in downtown Reno on a report of a fight. The call involved a tenant acting belligerently and throwing items at the lodge’s manager.
When the officers arrived, they saw an adult male, later identified as Bailey, on the second floor yelling and gesturing. As the officers moved towards Bailey’s position, Bailey moved to the ground level near two other male subjects. Bailey began violently attacking one of the subjects, a fellow tenant. Initially, the officers believed Bailey was unarmed and striking the victim with his fists. As such, one of the responding officers removed his Taser from its holster, approached Bailey, and began giving him verbal commands to get down on the ground. Bailey did not comply.
The officer then rushed to Bailey to pull him away from the victim. During that action, the officer recognized that Bailey was armed with a knife and was stabbing the victim. For safety reasons, the officer began to back up to create distance. The second officer, who had also drawn his Taser, saw the knife and drew his firearm. Bailey turned his attention to the officers, while still holding the knife in one hand and clenching his other hand in a fist. Both officers ordered Bailey to drop the knife. Instead, Bailey began to advance on the officer who was still holding his Taser. This officer deployed the Taser, which only caused Bailey to stop momentarily before he continued to advance to within 5 to 6 feet of the back-peddling officer.
Recognizing that his partner was in danger of being stabbed, the second officer fired his weapon at Bailey to stop the attack. Bailey was hit and dropped the knife. He sustained three gunshot wounds to his lower left back area and was treated by REMSA at the scene and taken to the hospital. The victim Bailey attacked suffered multiple stab wounds to the left side of his head, neck, shoulder and back. Both men survived their injuries. The victim suffered a collapsed lung and permanent physical disfigurement.
Consistent with the regionally-adopted Officer Involved Shooting (OIS) Protocol, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office led the investigation. The Sparks Police Department provided secondary investigative support, RPD provided further needed support, and the Washoe County Crime Laboratory provided forensic services. The Washoe County District Attorney’s Office provided legal assistance.
Upon completion of the entire investigation, the case was submitted to the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office in October of 2017, for a final determination of whether the shooting of Bailey was legally justified. No criminal charges against the shooting officer were recommended by WCSO.
The District Attorney’s evaluation included reviewing hundreds of pages of reports and documents, which included interviews of police and civilian witnesses. It further included the review of photographs, diagrams, video recordings, and examination of the scene of the shooting.
Based on the available evidence and the applicable legal authorities, it is the opinion of the District Attorney that the shooting of Ronald Bailey was justified and not a criminal act. When the RPD officers arrived on scene, they quickly realized they were facing an armed, deranged subject who was violently attacking an unarmed citizen. Bailey ignored verbal commands to stop and drop the weapon, instead turning the knife on an officer and advancing towards him. After an unsuccessful attempt to subdue Bailey with a Taser, one of the officers responded by firing his weapon. In that moment, the shooting officer reasonably believed that there was imminent danger that Bailey would kill or cause substantial bodily injury to his partner. The officer clearly had the right under Nevada law to use deadly force.