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Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks announced Sparks police officers were justified when they shot and killed Miciah Lee, an armed and suicidal 18-year-old man in January.
On Monday, Hicks released a 50-page report detailing the investigation following widespread community complaints about the time it takes for investigators to release details on a police shooting. Sparks police on Monday also released a nearly 29-minute video that contextualizes the officer-worn body camera footage from the events leading up to the shooting.
Neither agency on Monday announced plans to stage press conferences about the shooting.
“Mr. Lee’s death was a tragic end to a young man’s life and this community should be saddened by it,” Hicks said in a statement on Monday. The report was made public after members of the DA’s office met with the Lee family to present their findings, said spokeswoman Michelle Bays.
Hicks said his responsibility is to “justly uphold the law and apply it equally and objectively in all situations.”
“I have always abided by that responsibility, when the world is looking and when it is not,” Hicks said. “My decision in this case is based on the law in Nevada and upon a thorough review of the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident and the actions of the officers involved in the shooting.”
The video released by Sparks police includes audio from the initial 911 call, footage of the car chase and the shooting.
You can watch it here (warning: graphic content):
What happened the night Miciah Lee was shot by police
At 5:48 p.m., Lee’s mother, Susan Clopp, called 911, informing the dispatcher that her son was suicidal and located at Chuck’s Boulevard Pizza.
“Clopp added that Lee was armed with a handgun and was threatening to kill himself or ‘die by cop,’ according to the report. “She further informed the dispatcher the she and her two other sons were attempting to block Lee’s car with their bodies so he could not leave but felt Lee may run her or her son over with his vehicle.”
By the time Sparks police officers arrived at the scene, he had fled in his car.
When the officers located his vehicle a short time later, Lee fled from them and eventually crashed near the area of Rock and North McCarran Boulevard.
He was reportedly uncooperative with police and had reached for his gun when the officers shot him, according to the DA’s report.
She also told the dispatcher that her son was mentally unstable and had a history of drug use.
Calls for more police transparency preceded release of report
Lee’s family, residents and local activists have all called on law enforcement leaders to expedite the investigation and release the body camera footage from the officers involved in the shooting. The Reno chapter of the NAACP was among those calling for transparency.
The recent public outcry comes amid the protests over George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis Police Officers.
Reno Police Chief Jason Soto, whose department took over the investigation, said during previous interviews and at a town meeting that he was working with law enforcement agencies in the region to expedite the time it takes to investigate officer-involved shootings.
In Washoe County, it can take as long as 16 months for a police shooting to be investigated, reviewed and released to the public.
At a town hall meeting earlier this month, Soto emphasized an investigation shouldn’t take two years to complete. He said his department handed their investigation over the district attorney’s office within months of the shooting—reported on Jan. 5.
Marcella Corona is a breaking news reporter who covers crime and justice in Northern Nevada. Support her work by subscribing to RGJ.com.
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