SPARKS, Nev. (MyNews.4.com & KRNV) -- Sparks Police have confirmed what News 4 first reported several months ago: that officers did shoot an unarmed woman outside her home in October.
Sparks Police Chief Brian Allen held a news conference on Thursday, announcing that District Attorney Dick Gammick has ruled the shootings on Woodhaven Lane were justified. Monica Ritchey died, and her daughter Darcie Latham was injured in the domestic disturbance incident.
Until Thursday, police would not confirm who it was that shot Latham. Ritchey was armed that day and fired at officers, who then returned fire. News 4 reported months ago that sources told us a miscommunication led the shooting of Latham.
But police said there was no criminal wrongdoing on anyone's part. "I don't think that anyone who looked at this file isn't going to say the officers made a huge, tremendous mistake," said Attorney Richard Salvadore. "But they inadvertently shot Darcie Latham in the process, because of what I think was a miscommunication."
Salvatore is the attorney for Darcie Latham. He said he has filed a claim with the city seeking damages, but no lawsuit yet.
Sparks Police Chief Brian Allen did not answer questions at the press conference, but released this statement on Thursday:
"On October 13, 2013, members of the Sparks Police Department responded to 1506 Woodhaven Lane on the report of a suicidal female, Monica Ritchey, who was armed with and already fired a firearm numerous times. Attempted de-escalation of the situation with Ms. Ritchey, was not successful and the incident resulted in the shooting death of Monica Ritchey and the wounding of her daughter Darcie Latham.
Pursuant to the Officer Involved Shooting protocol, after completion of the investigation, this matter was turned over to the District Attorney’s Office for review. On August 26, 2014, District Attorney Gammick rendered his opinion that 'the shooting death of Monica Ritchey by Officer Simpson and Sgt. Keating was justifiable under all applicable laws.' D.A. Gammick further states that 'the wounding of Darcie Latham by Officer Mowbray was also justifiable…'
Initial reports indicated Darcie Latham was shot by her mother Monica Ritchey. However, as preliminary interviews took place, it was learned by investigators that a Sparks Police Department officer shot Mrs. Latham in the upper leg region, as she was then evacuated by the officers and transported to Renown Medical Center by REMSA. Within 48 hours of the incident, I, along with other members of our staff, met with Mrs. Latham while she was still in the hospital. During that conversation, I advised Mrs. Latham she was shot by an officer of the Sparks Police Department, not her mother.
I empathize with the Ritchey and Latham families. It is tragic that Monica Ritchey believed her only course of conduct that day was to arm herself, discharge the firearm while in and outside of her residence and eventually aim the firearm at responding officers. The loss of a loved one is difficult under any circumstance.
To be involved in a shooting is never the officer’s desired outcome particularly when responding to these types of calls. The responding officers’ intent was to provide assistance to Mrs. Latham’s request for help and to protect the community as a whole. These types of events are very dynamic, evolving and ever changing. Officers are required to make split second decisions based on these ever changing circumstances. The investigation shows that Sgt. Keating’s and Officers Mowbray and Simpson’s actions were of pure intent and justified by applicable laws.
I would like to thank the Reno Police Department for being the lead investigatory agency into the Officer Involved Shooting. Though these investigations take time, the full set of facts and circumstances regarding this incident are presented in Reno Police Department case 13-20296. The Regional Officer Involved Shooting Protocol has again shown that having a non-involved law enforcement agency investigate the incident to be the best way to have an impartial, thorough and complete investigation that provides the transparency of these incidents to the public.
I will not be taking questions at this time. I am not able to further discuss this incident based on my legal requirements and the potential civil law suit. With that, the full details are contained in the final Reno Police Department report and District Attorney Gammick’s decision and those documents speak for themselves."