For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Bays
775.321.4304 (o); 775.771.6049 (c)
Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks has determined that the August 8, 2018 Officer Involved Shooting (OIS) of Joseph Elias Richards, age 43 from Reno, by Sparks Police Department (SPD) Detective Christopher Bare was justified under Nevada law. At the time of the shooting, Richards was under investigation for child sexual abuse. During arrest, Richards armed himself with a knife and was shot after refusing commands to drop the weapon and charging at Detective Bare. Richards survived the shooting and was ultimately charged and convicted on sexual assault and lewdness charges, as well as a deadly weapon assault charge for the attack on Detective Bare. During Richards’ interview, he claimed the circumstance of facing arrest on sexual assault charges prompted him to arm himself with the knife and force police to shoot him and end his life.
Consistent with this office’s ongoing public reporting on all OIS cases, District Attorney Hicks has released a detailed 32-page report containing the facts of the case, photographs, identification of those involved, witness accounts, and his legal analysis supporting the case’s conclusion. This determination is based on an extensive review of the investigation conducted by the Reno Police Department, which was submitted to this office. 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
This report follows two criminal prosecutions of Richards. Richards was found guilty in February 2020 of seven (7) counts of Lewdness with a Child under 14 years and three (3) counts of Sexual Assault of a Child under 14 years. Following his criminal trial for the sexual assault and lewdness charges, Richards was sentence in August 2020 to ten (10) life sentences with parole eligibility set to begin after a minimum of 65 years has been served. Subsequent to this, Richards pled guilty in May of this year to a charge of Assault with Use of a Deadly Weapon relate to the OIS case. He was ultimately sentenced to a term of 12 to 30 months in the Nevada Department of Corrections.
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 August 8, 2018, at approximately 3:05 p.m., Richards arrived at SPD for a scheduled interview with Detective Andrew Schreiber Detective Schreiber had identified Richards as a suspect in a child sex abuse investigation. Prior to the beginning of the interview, Detective Schreiber reached out to the Regional Crime Suppression Unit (hereinafter “RCSU”) and advised that he wanted Richards surveilled after the interview should he provide incriminating statements. The RCSU is a comprised of plain clothed detectives from the Reno and Sparks Police Departments, who are often called upon to conduct undercover surveillance. Detectives assigned to the unit do not wear Body Worn Cameras and none was available in this case.
At the start of the interview, Richards was advised that he was not in custody and would be allowed to leave at the end of the interview. During the interview, Richards admitted to touching an 11-year-old girl in her vaginal area. After the interview at approximately 4:23 p.m., Richards left SPD.
At approximately 6:00 p.m., RCSU Detectives made contact at Richards’ home in order to arrest him. After a short conversation with Richards’ roommate on the front step, detectives proceeded up to the door where they saw Richards in the living room area. Richards then walked towards Detectives through the front door.
Due to lack of space on the front step, Detectives planned to handcuff Richards after guiding him down the stairs. Detectives had a light grip on each arm of Richards. Richards then pulled a large, fixed blade knife from his waist area and raised it in the air. The Detectives yelled “Knife!” and released their grip of Richards and backed away. Richards ran down the stairs and immediately turned left towards Detective Bare.
Richards had the knife in front of him and stared at Detective Bare while charging towards him. Detective Bare drew his firearm and yelled for Richards to drop the knife. Richards refused and continued towards Detective Bare, getting within approximately five feet. Detective Bare then fired three times, striking Richards twice in the chest and once in the left shoulder. Richards then fell to the ground and released the knife.
Detectives immediately alerted dispatch of shots fired and began performing life saving measures on Richards. REMSA personnel arrived and transported Richards to Renown Hospital. Medical personnel treated Richards for two days before he was released from the hospital and taken into custody.
On August 10, 2018, Richards was re-interviewed by law enforcement. During the interview, Richards admitted that the circumstances of his child sex abuse investigation made him want to end his own life. When the detectives arrived to arrest him, Richards made the split-second decision to pull out the knife and force law enforcement to shoot him with the hopes that he would be killed.
Consistent with the regionally adopted Officer Involved Shooting (hereinafter “OIS”) Protocol, RPD led the investigation into the shooting of Richards. The WCSO provided secondary investigative support, and the Washoe County Crime Laboratory (WCCL) provided forensic services. The investigation included interviewing witnesses, collecting physical evidence, photographing the shooting scene, forensically testing collected evidence, and interviewing the officers involved in the shooting.
All investigation reports along with WCCL forensic reports, photographs, and recorded interviews were then submitted to the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office for a determination of whether the shooting of Joseph Richards was legally justified. No criminal charges were recommended by RPD. The District Attorney’s evaluation included reviewing hundreds of pages of reports and documents, which included interviews of police and civilian witnesses, photographs, diagrams, 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 Joseph Richards by Sparks Police Department Detective Chris Bare was justified and not a criminal act.
 Richards was arrested in two separate cases: Lewdness with a Minor Under the Age of 14 as well as Assault with a Deadly Weapon. After his arrest, two more minor children came forward with additional molestation allegations against Richards. Richards went to trial in case CR19-0614 in February of 2020. Richards was convicted of seven counts of Lewdness with a Child Under the Age of Fourteen Years and three counts of Sexual Assault Against a Child Under the Age of Fourteen Years. On August 21, 2020, Richards was sentenced to an aggregate term of Life in Prison with the Possibility for Parole after 65 years. On May 24, 2021, Richards pled guilty to Assault with a Deadly Weapon in case CR19-0432 and was sentenced to 12-30 months in prison to run concurrently to CR19-0614.