For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Bays
775.321.4307 (o); 775.771.6049 (c)
August 21, 2020
Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks has determined that the April 28, 2019 Officer Involved Shooting (OIS) of Jose Luis Dominguez, 47 (DOB 4/5/72) from Sparks, by officers with the Sparks Police Department was justified under Nevada law. Consistent with this office’s ongoing public reporting on all OIS cases, District Attorney Hicks has released a detailed 60-page report containing the facts of the case, photographs, identification of those involved, witness accounts, and his legal analysis.
This conclusion is based on an extensive review of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office investigation and the application of Nevada law to the known facts and circumstances surrounding the shooting. Unless new circumstances come to light that contradict the factual foundation upon which this decision is made, this case is officially closed. Copies of all completed OIS reports are available on the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office’s website at https://www.washoecounty.us/da/newsroom/reports.php Inquiries regarding the release of any public records involving the investigation and its evidence can be directed to the involved law enforcement agencies.
Introduction of the Report:
On April 28, 2019, at approximately 2:00 p.m., Joyce Miles (hereinafter “Miles”) and Donna Dominguez (hereinafter “Donna”) returned from a women’s retreat to Miles’ home at 425 Abbay Way. While they were out of town, Miles’ 17-year-old granddaughter, I.D. house sat for her. I.D. lived at 414 Abbay Way with her father, Jose Dominguez (hereinafter “Dominguez”), and her step-mother Leora Dominguez (hereinafter “Leora”). When Miles and Donna returned, I.D. told them that she had attended a Reno Aces baseball game with her father and that he was intoxicated.
Miles decided to talk to Dominguez about his struggles with alcoholism who told her that he and Leora had gotten into an argument that resulted in her leaving him. Miles told Dominguez that he needed to stop drinking for his daughter’s sake, but Dominguez refused. Dominguez was belligerent and grabbed his car keys to leave in his car to get more alcohol. As he did this, Dominguez mentioned to Miles that he was going to drink himself to death. Miles responded by threatening to remove all the alcohol from the house and Dominguez told her there were easier ways to kill himself and made a veiled threat to do so.
These statements concerned Miles, so she called the police at 5:32 p.m. to report that her son was suicidal. Sparks Police Department Officers Daniel Lawson (hereinafter “Officer Lawson”) and Eric Dejesus (hereinafter “Officer Dejesus”) along with Sergeant Patrick McNeely (hereinafter “Sergeant McNeely”) responded to 414 Abbay Way arriving at approximately 5:40 p.m.
Officer Lawson was the first to arrive and met with Miles. Miles told Officer Lawson that Dominguez was an alcoholic and was intoxicated. While speaking with Miles, Officer Lawson saw Dominguez closing the front door. The garage door then opened and Dominguez exited to speak with him. At that time, both Sergeant McNeely and Officer De Jesus arrived on scene.
Sergeant McNeely continued to speak with Miles, while Officers Lawson and DeJesus spoke with Dominguez. Dominguez was cooperative and admitted to drinking that day. He appeared to be functioning normally; however, he identified himself as an alcoholic and said he was depressed because his wife (Leora) had left him. Dominguez denied being suicidal and explained that his mother was smothering him, and he needed her to return to her home to give him space. The officers reconvened with Sergeant McNeely and agreed to clear the call and inform Miles to give Dominguez space, to which she agreed. Before leaving, Officer Lawson told Dominguez to call the police if he needed help or felt the urge to harm himself.
At 7:03 p.m., Sparks Police were dispatched back to 414 Abbay Way on a report of a domestic battery. Officer Brian Wisneski (hereinafter “Officer Wisneski”) was the first officer to arrive on scene and observed two females siting on the curb in front of the home. Officer Wisneski spoke with the females who were identified as Donna and I.D.. Donna told Officer Wisneski that she had removed four firearms, including two rifles, a handgun, and an air gun from Dominguez’s home because she did not want him to have access to guns. While inside the home, Dominguez had pushed her and slapped her in the face.
While speaking with Donna, other officers began to arrive on scene. During that time, Officer Wisneski learned that Dominguez had locked the doors to his house and was barricading himself inside. Donna mentioned that she was worried that Dominguez had another weapon inside the residence, as she had observed a gun on his bed earlier in the evening. Donna also mentioned that Dominguez was a hunter so he could have additional weapons of which she was unaware.
Officers set up a perimeter around 414 Abbay Way and began informing neighbors to either evacuate or shelter in place away from Dominguez’s residence. Sergeant McNeely re-arrived on scene and after several attempts, was able to contact Dominguez on the phone. Dominguez told Sergeant McNeely that he was upset with Donna for taking guns from his house, but that she did not get them all. Dominguez said he was depressed and an alcoholic, that his wife was leaving him, and he wanted to end his life.
Sergeant McNeely maintained communication with Dominguez throughout the entirety of the incident, during which Dominguez stated multiple times that he wanted to end his life and that he had nothing to look forward to. Dominguez also told Sergeant McNeely that he wanted the officers to shoot him. Sergeant McNeely told Dominguez the officers did not want to shoot him, to which Dominguez responded that they would shoot him if he came out of the house shooting his own gun. Sergeant McNeely continued to speak with Dominguez, encouraging him to come outside unarmed so that officers could help him and take him to the hospital. Dominguez did not comply and repeatedly opened and closed blinds in the home and the garage door.
Officers observed Dominguez pacing throughout the house and at 7:44 p.m. Dominguez suddenly exited the front door waiving a Marlin lever action rifle. Lieutenant Chris Rowe (hereinafter “Lieutenant Rowe”) and Officer Joe Mercer (hereinafter “Officer Mercer”) approached Dominguez from the east and ordered him to drop the weapon and come outside. Dominguez refused, went back inside the residence, and closed the front door as well as the garage door.
Meanwhile, Officer Ryan Patterson (hereinafter “Officer Patterson”) had arrived with an armored vehicle clearly marked with the Sparks Police Department insignia (hereinafter “BearCat”). Officers Patterson, Ryan Bader (hereinafter “Officer Bader”), and Casey Foster (hereinafter “Officer Foster”) then set up inside the BearCat with the intention of protecting those officers outside the BearCat in case Dominguez exited the residence with the rifle. Specifically, Lieutenant Rowe, and Officers Mercer and DeJesus, who were set up near the residence to the east of Dominguez with the intention of being the “hands on” team should Dominguez exit the house unarmed. These officers could not see the front of Dominguez’s residence from their vantage point and were relying on the officers in the BearCat for protection from Dominguez.
From their position, Officers Foster, Bader, and Patterson could see Dominguez inside the house pacing with the rifle in his hand. At 8:02 p.m. Dominguez could be heard from within the house yelling, “Shoot me!” as he was still talking on the phone with Sergeant McNeely. At 8:05 p.m., Dominguez opened the front door with his arms up and empty and attempted to wave Sergeant McNeely towards the house. Sergeant McNeely explained to Dominguez that it was unsafe for him to come into the house until Dominguez ensured officers he was unarmed and would not reach for the rifle. Dominguez then grabbed the rifle, waived it in the air, and began repeatedly cycling it to show that the rifle was empty.
Dominguez then retreated inside the house and officers lost track of his movements. This concerned the officers, as they could not see Dominguez and were specifically worried he would load the rifle to come back outside the house. In addition, Sergeant McNeely’s conversation with Dominguez was being relayed to all officers by radios and he was increasingly becoming more despondent about his life situation.
At 8:12 p.m. Dominguez exited the residence and looked directly towards Lieutenant Rowe and his officers. Dominguez appeared focused and determined, not erratic as he had previously looked. Dominguez then raised his rifle towards Lieutenant Rowe and Officer DeJesus. Seeing this, Officers Foster, Bader, and Patterson fired their weapons at Dominguez. Dominguez fell to the ground but was still moving. Officers approached Dominguez, secured the scene and began providing life saving measures. REMSA personnel arrived shortly after at 8:18 p.m. and took over medical care. However, Dominguez was declared dead at the scene.
Consistent with the regionally adopted Officer Involved Shooting (OIS) Protocol, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office (hereinafter “WCSO”) led the investigation into the shooting of Dominguez. The Reno Police Department (hereinafter “RPD”) provided secondary investigative support, and the Washoe County Crime Laboratory (hereinafter “WCCL”) provided forensic services. The investigation included interviewing witnesses, collecting physical evidence, photographing the shooting scene, forensically testing collected evidence, reviewing body camera footage, and interviewing the involved officers.
All investigation reports along with WCCL forensic reports, photographs, body camera footage, and recorded interviews were then submitted to the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office on May 20, 2020 for a determination of whether the shooting of Jose Dominguez was legally justified. No criminal charges 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, photographs, diagrams, body camera footage, and examination of the scene of the shooting. This report follows.