On Your Side: Source claims police miscommunication led to shooting

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Updated: 4/08 3:46 pm
SPARKS, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- Nearly six months after a mother and daughter were shot in an officer-involved shooting, there are major questions that are still unanswered. The main question is who shot one of the women on the street that day?

On October 13, the sound of gunfire broke the silence on an otherwise quiet street in Sparks. Witnesses said Monica Ritchey came out of her home on Woodhaven Lane, behaving erratically and waving a gun in the middle of the afternoon. Moments later, neighbors said Ritchey was shot dead by police.

"All of a sudden there was bunch of gunshots, she fell, she kept playing with the gun, trying to get the gun, then she went down again," said neighbor April Martin.

"The facts are pretty clear that law enforcement shot Monica Ritchey while she was holding a gun," said attorney Richard Salvatore.

But it is what happened next that has raised more questions and caused confusion. Not only was Monica Ritchey shot that day, but so was her daughter Darcie Latham. Ritchey was shot in her front yard. Latham was shot in the hip while standing in a neighbor's driveway across the street from her mother's house.

The question is who shot Darcie?

April Martin lives on Woodhaven Lane and said she has heard conflicting reports ever since the shooting. "First I heard she shot her, then I heard police shot her, then I heard she shot her," Martin said.

Published media reports after the shooting also indicated Monica Ritchey shot her own daughter. Police have not cleared up the confusion. A brief press release issued by Sparks Police does not say who fired any of the shots.

"Obviously, Darcie Latham would like to know what happened. This weighs on her. She's read in the papers that her mom shot her," said Salvatore, Latham's attorney.

Despite those reports, News 4 has learned through a reliable source that it was not Monica Ritchey who shot her daughter across the street, but police who shot her by mistake.

According to our source, one of the officers on the scene gave another officer the green light to shoot Monica Ritchey. But in giving that command over the radio, the officer incorrectly stated Ritchey was on the officer's right. When in fact, Ritchey was standing to his left. The other officer, following orders, opened fire at the woman on the right side of the street, shooting and injuring Darcie Latham, who was reportedly unarmed.

Latham's attorney Richard Salvatore tells News 4 he has put the City of Sparks on notice that he may file a claim seeking damages for an unjustified shooting, and use of excessive force.

"We believe, and our investigation has shown, that it was law enforcement that shot Darcie Latham, and not her mother," Salvatore said.

Sparks Police Chief Brian Allen said he cannot confirm or deny what our source has revealed. Following standard procedure, the case is being investigated by an outside agency, the Reno Police Department. Chief Allen said until that investigation is complete, he is not allowed to comment.

"It would be irresponsible for me to make comments on facts and details that we're asking another agency to investigate," Allen told News 4.

"You have the interests of justice in the criminal realm, and then you have the interests of the parties who really want to know up front what happened," added Salvatore.

Neighbors such as April Martin, and others who declined to speak on camera, said they would like to know just what did happen that day for their peace of mind and Monica Ritchey's family, as well.

"It would be nice to know what happened. I hope she didn't shoot her own daughter. That part's kind of sad," added Martin.

Three officers were put on administrative leave after that shooting. Police Chief Brian Allen tells us all three have been cleared to go back to work after a preliminary investigation.

As for Darcie Latham, she was shot once in the hip. She is continuing her recovery and rehabilitation, but she declined to be interviewed for our story.
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Deana - 4/8/2014 8:59 PM
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The police also killed my son Kenny Stafford! I don't trust the police. We told them Kenny was sick with PTSD, they didn't care. They didn't need to use lethal forse. They were in NO danger. Kenny was home on leave from the ARMY for his baby brother Ryan Connelly 2 anniversary of his murder, yes my 17yr old son was murdered July 7th,2012 with no leads. The cops opened fired on Kenny. KILLERS COPS!
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