For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Bays
775.321.4307 (o); 775.771.6049 (c)
September 11, 2020
Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks has determined that the March 31, 2018 Officer Involved Shooting (OIS) of Nicolas Sedano, age 21, from Reno, by officers with the Reno 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 46-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 investigation conducted by the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, which was submitted to this office on May 27, 2020. Unless new circumstances come to light that contradict the factual foundation upon which this decision was 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 March 31, 2018 at approximately 10:25 pm, a concerned citizen called Reno Police Dispatch (hereinafter “Dispatch”) after observing suspicious activity at Peckham Plaza Mini Storage, which is located near the corner of East Peckham Lane and Neil Road in Reno, Nevada. Based on the information received from the caller, Dispatch advised Reno Police Department (hereinafter “RPD”) patrol officers of a possible commercial burglary in progress involving multiple individuals who were reportedly cutting the locks off of storage units. RPD officers responded to the call, and RPD Officer Thomas Lopey (hereinafter “Officer Lopey”) and RPD Officer Christopher Rose (hereinafter “Officer Rose”) were the first to arrive on scene.
Officers Lopey and Rose, who were both dressed in full RPD uniforms and riding together in the same marked patrol vehicle, arrived on scene and parked in the parking lot of the nearby Speedway Market, which is located immediately to the north of the storage facility. Officers Lopey and Rose walked through an open gate into the storage facility, where they observed a black Honda Civic Hatchback parked along the back wall of the Speedway Market in front of the first row of storage units. As they approached the vehicle, they observed a male subject, who was later identified as Nicolas Sedano (hereinafter “Sedano”), sitting in the driver’s seat.
Officer Lopey walked towards the passenger side of the vehicle while Officer Rose walked towards the front of the vehicle. Both officers shined their flashlights at Sedano, and as they did this noticed a lot of property inside of the car. Based on the circumstance of the call, Officer Rose shouted at Sedano to show his hands, which were below the officers’ line of sight. Sedano failed to comply with these commands, and instead stared at the officers and then back down towards his hands.
Officer Lopey walked to approximately three feet from the passenger door, at which time he saw Sedano insert a key into the car’s ignition and start the car. Officer Lopey drew his handgun and screamed at Sedano to stop. Sedano refused to comply with this command as well, and he put his hand towards where a manual gear shift would be. Immediately after the car started, Officers Lopey and Rose heard the car engine rev, and the car instantly accelerated directly toward Officer Rose, who was standing approximately five feet in front of the vehicle. Officer Rose described having little time to react and tried to get out of the way of the oncoming car, which ultimately struck his right foot. Thinking that he was going to be killed as the car accelerate towards him, and feeling he had no other options, Officer Rose stated he discharged his handgun as he was being struck by the car in an attempt to stop the threat. Simultaneous to this, Officer Lopey also discharged his firearm at Sedano, stating that he felt that Sedano was going to run over and kill Officer Rose.
Following the shooting, Sedano continued to drive the vehicle forward and crash through a chain-link fence that separated the east side of the storage facility from a dirt lot. The vehicle ultimately came to a stop in the adjacent lot, and Officers Lopey and Rose ran towards the car, pulled Sedano from it, and quickly began life-saving measures. REMSA arrived on scene and took over medical treatment as they transported Sedano to Renown Regional Medical Center. At Renown, medical staff continued life-saving measures, but they were ultimately unsuccessful and Sedano was pronounced deceased. A subsequent autopsy determined that Sedano died from multiple gunshot wounds.
It was later determined that the black Honda Civic Hatchback that Sedano was in had been reported stolen approximately 0.2 miles down the street just two hours prior to the shooting. Additionally, Sedano had an active warrant for his arrest for violating probation from an unrelated Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle case, and was facing the prospect of being sent to prison, apart from any legal consequences he might have faced for possessing the second stolen vehicle. Toxicology results also found high levels of methamphetamine and amphetamine in Sedano’s blood at the time of his death. Background information obtained during the investigation determined that Sedano had a history of suicidal ideation and attempt. Additionally, he had made recent statements about not wanting to return to jail and had been arguing with his girlfriend about seeing his young son in the moments leading up to the shooting.
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 Sedano. The Sparks Police Department (hereinafter “SPD”) provided secondary investigative support, RPD provided further needed support, and the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office – Forensic Science Division (hereinafter “FSD”) provided forensic services. The Washoe County District Attorney’s Office provided legal expertise on scene and assistance obtaining search warrants.
The investigation included interviewing witnesses, canvassing the shooting area for additional witnesses and any video surveillance, collecting physical evidence, photographing the shooting scene, forensically testing collected evidence, reviewing the history of Sedano, and interviewing the officers involved in the shooting.
Upon completion of the entire investigation, all police reports along with FSD forensic reports, collected documentation, photographs, witness statements, recorded audio and video of the incident, Dispatch recordings, video surveillance, and recorded interviews were submitted to the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office on May 27, 2020, for a final determination of whether the shooting of Sedano was legally justified. No criminal charges against RPD Officers Lopey or Rose were recommended by WCSO.
The District Attorney’s evaluation included reviewing more than 1,300 pages of reports and documents, which included interviews of police and civilian witnesses. It further included the review of photographs, diagrams, video and audio recordings, a cellular phone extraction report, and examination of the scene of the shooting. This report follows.
Based on the available evidence and the applicable legal authorities, it is the opinion of the District Attorney that the shooting of Nicolas Sedano by RPD Officers Thomas Lopey and Christopher Rose was justified and not a criminal act.