Police officer fires gun and wounds man after accidentally being hit by deputy's Taser

Newly released body camera video shows a Nevada police officer unintentionally shooting a man after that officer was hit with a Taser discharged by a sheriff's deputy, the Reno Police Department said.

Posted: Aug 11, 2020 9:31 PM
Updated: Aug 11, 2020 9:31 PM

Snippets of newly released body camera video show the moment a Nevada police officer unintentionally shot a man after that officer was hit with a Taser discharged by a sheriff's deputy, the Reno Police Department said.

The Reno police posted edited footage on Sunday from an incident in which Washoe County sheriff's deputies intended to subdue a suspect with a Taser dart because the man was allegedly not complying with deputy's orders, Reno Police Deputy Chief Tom Robinson said.

Reno police officers attempted to help the deputies get the suspect into custody, Robinson said.

"At one point, while a deputy was giving verbal commands to the suspect, the suspect stepped toward the deputies," Robinson said.

The deputy fired his Taser and missed the suspect. Instead, the Taser struck the knee of a Reno police officer, who fired his firearm once, striking the suspect in the shoulder.

Reno police did not clarify how they determined the officer discharged his weapon unintentionally. The department did not release the name of the officer or the suspect.

The shooting will be investigated by an outside law enforcement agency, police said.

"In the coming months, the Reno Police Department's Office of Internal Affairs will review all relevant information from this case and will make a determination as to whether the officer's tactics, drawing and use of a deadly weapon, and use of force is within the policies and standardized procedures of the Reno Police Department," said Travis Warren, Reno police department public information officer.

In the video, police say the incident will be investigated to determine whether the officers followed protocol.

Authorities said that footage of crucial parts of the incident were obscured, "either due to the placement of [the officers' cameras] or because the camera was unintentionally obstructed by equipment."

Reno police said the incident, which took place the morning of July 26, began when Reno police officers responded to a request for help from a Washoe County sheriff's deputy, Robinson said in a video statement accompanying the body camera footage.

When Reno police arrived, they found deputies pointing Tasers at the suspect, Robinson said.

Officers on the body camera video can be heard telling the suspect, "Can you go down on your knees please, let's talk about this, let's figure this out."

The suspect can be heard on video saying, "I'm going to run, I'm sorry." He then steps towards the officers and says, "Here's my things," while placing a number of objects on the ground, including items of clothing and what appears to be a wallet.

In the video, at least four officers can be seen pointing Tasers at the suspect. That's when a Washoe County deputy moved around the suspect, completely surrounding him.

The deputy fired his Taser but missed and one of the Taser darts struck a Reno police officer in the knee, "causing him to unintentionally discharge his firearm once, striking the suspect in the right shoulder," according to Robinson.

Shortly afterward, the suspect can be seen sitting on the ground and bleeding, saying, "My shoulder, my shoulder."

One Reno police officer can be heard asking, "Who was it?" Another answers, "I think it was me. I got shot with the Taser and I thought ... f**k."

Joseph Giacalone, a retired New York Police Department detective sergeant and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, told CNN after reviewing the footage that he saw two main issues: the danger of officers setting up a crossfire situation and the lack of supervision from a sergeant.

"There's got to be a supervisor show up and take charge of the scene," he said. "That's an important aspect of it, I've seen this happen elsewhere. If you look in Minneapolis, the incident with George Floyd, there was no supervisor on scene. ... If we have better supervision on some of these things we can prevent other accidents or other problems."

Floyd, 46, died May 25 at the hands of Minneapolis police with his final moments caught on video.

Having a supervisor or sergeant on scene would have provided Reno officers with more direction "so you don't have five or six cops with guns out or Tasers out," Giacalone said. "You'd have one or two out that would be the person who would use a Taser or use a gun if you had to. That would mitigate a situation like this."

According to Reno police, the suspect was transported to a local hospital with a non life-threatening injury and has since been released. He was also issued a citation for reckless driving, obstructing and resisting an officer by the Sparks Police department -- the department handling the investigation into the incident, according to Robinson said.

The officer who fired his weapon was also taken to a hospital to have the Taser probe removed from his knee, Robinson said.

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