RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) --Fernley resident Marie Coates filed a lawsuit today in Washoe County District Court accusing Trooper Robert Nivarel, the State of Nevada and the Department of Public Safety of negligence and is seeking more than $1 million in damages.
According to the court papers, Coates says that she stopped behind a red vehicle, immediately behind a Nevada Highway Patrol truck on January 28 and saw an unknown man, not in uniform, exit the truck and approach her vehicle. That's when the man aimed what appeared to be a 8" barreled shotgun directly into Coates face and stated "Get out of the car! I am not kidding. Get out of the car." The man then fired the gun in the air above the vehicle and pointed the shotgun back in Coates face.
Coates states in the court documents that she grabbed her purse and exited the vehicle in a state of panic. Coates said to the man "don't hurt my car," and the man got into the vehicle and sped away.
The court documents say that several minutes went by before Coates saw a single law enforcement vehicle, and eventually when she was driven to her vehicle after numerous hours later due to interviews with authorities, the vehicle ended up severely damaged near the first exit in Fernley. As Coates was escorted to her vehicle to acquire her belongings, she states that a law enforcement officer uncovered the deceased body of the man, and seeing the dead man's hair and body caused Coates "extreme emotional distress", as she realized she was the last person to have talked to and have direct eye contact with the deceased man.
The lawsuit states that the actions of State of Nevada, Trooper Nivarel and the Department of Public Safety were "willful, wanton and exhibited a reckless disregard for the safety of citizens and Coates in this action."
Coates is being represented by Reno-based attorney Ken McKenna.