For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Bays
775.321.4307 (o); 775.771.6049 (c)
September 25, 2020
Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks has determined that the January 27, 2019 Officer Involved Shooting (OIS) of Patrick Michael Wootan, age 35, from Reno, by an officer with the Reno Police Department was justified under Nevada law. The shooting occurred after a brief pursuit, which ended when Wootan crashed the stolen vehicle he was driving and fled the scene on foot. Wootan, who was armed with a stolen handgun when confronted by the officer, repeatedly pointed the handgun at the officer while ignoring commands to drop his weapon and was shot. The investigation determined that Wootan had an extensive criminal history and had made statements immediately prior to the shooting that he would not go back to prison.
Consistent with this office’s ongoing public reporting on all OIS cases, District Attorney Hicks has released a detailed 41-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 June 10, 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.
Wootan was criminally charged in this case and pled guilty to one count of Assault on an Officer with a Deadly Weapon Committed by a Parolee, one Count of Possession of a Stolen Firearm and one count of Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle. These convictions marked the 10th, 11th and 12th felony conviction for this defendant, who was on parole at the time of this incident for a previous habitual criminal burglary conviction. In October 2019, he was again sentenced as a habitual offender and given a life term in prison with the possibility of parole after 10 years has been served.
Introduction of the Report:
On January 27, 2019 Reno Police Department (hereinafter “RPD”) Officer Kevin Hendrix (hereinafter “Officer Hendrix”) was driving his patrol vehicle in the northbound lane of Keystone Avenue at Jones Street in Reno and was engaged in DUI enforcement on behalf of the RPD Traffic Division. At approximately 10:40 p.m. he noticed a white four door passenger car traveling south on Keystone Avenue at a high rate of speed. Officer Hendrix estimated the vehicle was traveling 50 miles per hour in a posted 35 mile per hour zone. After the vehicle passed him, Officer Hendrix turned his vehicle around to investigate. As he drove south on Keystone Avenue, he noticed that he was driving 50 miles per hour and was not catching up to the car he was attempting to reach. At this time, Officer Hendrix had not yet activated either his police lights or his vehicle’s siren.
As Officer Hendrix approached the intersection with Booth Street, he noticed that the white car had stopped in the intersection and both the driver side and passenger side front doors were open and the car appeared unoccupied (It was later determined that the vehicle had crashed into a lane median before coming to a stop). Upon seeing this, Officer Hendrix also saw a man running from the driver side of the vehicle towards Reno High School. The man would later be identified as Patrick Michael Wootan (hereinafter “Wootan”).
At this time, Officer Hendrix notified City of Reno Public Safety Dispatch (hereinafter “Dispatch”) that he was conducting a stop. He then activated his overhead red and blue police lights and began to pursue Wootan along Booth Street as he continued to run towards Reno High School. Officer Hendrix then drove north on Booth Street for a short distance and turned into the Reno High School Parking lot. As he got closer, Officer Hendrix saw Wootan trip and fall in the lawn. Seeing this, Officer Hendrix stopped his patrol vehicle, exited it and faced Wootan, who was initially lying in a prone position on the grass, facing him.
Officer Hendrix then saw Wootan pointing a firearm at him and quickly drew his service pistol and ordered Wootan to drop his weapon. Wootan did not comply with Officer Hendrix's commands. Instead he said something to the effect of "I can't go back to prison" or "I'm not going back to prison." Officer Hendrix again ordered Wootan to drop the gun. Wootan again did not comply and continued to point a pistol directly at Officer Hendrix.
Officer Hendrix fired once at Wootan. Wootan turned away, then pointed the gun at Officer Hendrix again. Officer Hendrix again fired one round at Wootan. Wootan then stood up, pointed the pistol at Officer Hendrix and charged. Officer Hendrix fired another round. Wootan fell to the ground, appearing to be wounded. Suddenly, Wootan moved his hand to the pistol. Officer Hendrix fired once again, causing Wootan to move his arm away from the gun.
At approximately 10:42 p.m., Officer Hendrix notified dispatch that shots had been fired. Officer Hendrix held Wootan at gunpoint until backup officers arrived. Once backup officers arrived, they handcuffed Wootan and provided emergency medical attention until REMSA arrived and took over medical care. Wootan was taken to Renown Hospital. He survived his injuries.
Follow up investigation determined the vehicle Wootan was driving had been reported stolen two days prior to the shooting. Additional information into Wootan’s background determined that he was an ex-felon with an extensive criminal history and was on parole. He had also made several statements to family and friends before and after the shooting indicating
he would not go back to prison and had intended for the officer to shoot him.
Consistent with the regionally-adopted Officer Involved Shooting (OIS) Protocol, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) led the investigation into the shooting of Wootan. The Sparks Police Department (SPD) provided secondary investigative support, and the Washoe County Crime Laboratory (WCCL) provided forensic services. The investigation included witness interviews, collection of physical evidence, photography of the shooting scene and other evidence, forensic evidence testing, review of body camera footage and other video evidence, and an interview of Officer Hendrix.
On June 10, 2020, all investigation reports along with WCCL forensic reports, photographs, body camera footage, recorded interviews, and other investigation materials were submitted to the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office for a determination of whether the shooting of Wootan was legally justified. The investigators did not recommend criminal charges against Officer Hendrix. The District Attorney’s evaluation included reviewing nearly 300 pages of reports and documents, which included interviews of police and civilian witnesses, photographs, diagrams, body camera footage and video surveillance. 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 Wootan by Officer Hendrix was justified and not a criminal act.