While police brutality is a national topic of debate, a few select cities have had enough police shootings to produce a body count. Certain publications have made an effort to compile statistics and information about why police are shooting people and what can be done to help solve this problem.

A number of shootings in Reno Nevada over the last few years

A summary from a local journal reported on several police involved shootings in Reno, Washoe County, and surrounding areas. Many of these incidents produced fatalities. While some of the victims allegedly had weapons, the frequency of the shootings suggests a pattern of violence that could be remedied by better training and changes in use of force policies.

One incident in 2017 began with Reno Police responding to the scene of a fight. They believed one of the men involved in the fight had a knife and opened fire after he ignored their commands to stop and disarm. The victim was later taken to a local hospital and remains incarcerated on various criminal charges.

Another incident in that same year involved a report of a robbery in the Eldorado Hotel Casino. As the three possible suspects fled, officers caught up to one of the men in an elevator. They believed he was armed and he allegedly ignored their verbal commands. The suspect was shot and killed during this interaction.

A teenager was also the victim of a police shooting in December of 2016. Reno Police went to the scene of a fight at a school to find a 14 year old with a knife. They allege that he made challenging statements and refused to disarm, so they opened fire. The teenager had to be transported to a local hospital after suffering a stroke and requiring emergency surgery.

Protocols for use of force

Police are obviously allowed to use their firearms in situations that can potentially become violent or result in the loss of life. However, most departments have a system for inquiring into an officer’s discharge of a firearm or use of a taser on other people. The departments themselves rarely punish officers as a result of these investigations unless there is clear evidence that shows no possible justification for such use of a weapon. The protocols that govern police use of force tend to give wide latitude to allow the officers to defend themselves and others around the scene. This means that when departments review these incidents, they generally only take action when police beat or shoot someone who is helpless or already detained.

Victims of these shootings are best helped by contacting a lawyer and seeking administrative discipline of the officers through their departments. In cases of deadly shootings, the surviving family members can still make a claim against the department for the person’s lost wages and other services they would have been able to provide. Unless the department terminates the officer’s employment or a local prosecutor decides to bring criminal charges, there is really no other way for the victims to receive justice than a civil lawsuit. All of the incidents recounted also seem to involve questionable grounds for the use of force, and a skilled lawyer can argue that injuries and death can be avoided in these cases if police had responded differently.

Speak with an attorney about a police shooting

If the police have shot you or someone you know, or have otherwise engaged in misconduct, talking with a lawyer is the best option. There are legal professionals available in Reno and other parts of Nevada who can speak with you and file a lawsuit if necessary.