Sparks Police Investigate Death at Washoe County Jail - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Sparks Police Investigate Death at Washoe County Jail

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Justin Thompson Justin Thompson

Sparks Police Department conducted an investigation of a death at the Washoe County Jail.

Reno Police Department says that at about 10:40 am on August 3rd, they responded to a report of a family disturbance at 1465 Peckham Lane # 19 in Reno. Officers say they met with the victim at that location and found that the male involved, identified as Justin Thompson, had left before their arrival. After speaking with the victim, the Reno officers determined they had probable cause to arrest Thompson for Domestic Battery. Officers on scene learned that Thompson had a history of mental illness and was not taking his medication. 

Police say they found Thompson in the 4600 block of Neil Road where he was acting in a bizarre manner, pacing, refusing to listen to the officers’ instructions to calm down and at one point, began to disrobe while pacing. Officers say Thompson had to be detained where he continued to resist officers by dropping himself to the ground.  Officers say they sat Thompson on the grass and he tried to get away by rolling on the ground.  

Police say REMSA was requested to treat Thompson for his self-inflicted injuries and his mental state, but he was combative with REMSA, spitting on one of the medics. Officials say Thompson was transported to the hospital where he was treated and released.

Officers say Thompson was transported to Washoe County Jail on the charges of Domestic Violence, Battery on a Protected Person, and Obstructing. There, officials say he was uncooperative with medical staff and jail deputies, refusing to answer medical questions from medical staff.

Officials say they placed Thompson in a holding cell to be monitored by jail staff for 24 hours.  During this time, he exhibiting delusional, erratic and self-destructive behavior, by standing on the sink, talking to the ceiling, and plugging his ears while activating the sink with his feet.  Additionally, Thompson appeared to be taking the scabs off his hands and writing on the walls with his own blood.

At approximately 4:00 pm on the following day, August 4, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office medical staff determined that Thompson needed to be transported back to the hospital for evaluation of his erratic behavior and treatment for his self-inflicted injuries. 

The Washoe County Detention Response Team was called because of Thompson’s behavior, but he refused to listen to their commands. Thompson had to be restrained, placed on a gurney and transported to the hospital where he was treated and released that same day to return to Washoe County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies say Thompson was uncooperative, pulling his arms from deputies and kicking his legs where he ultimately broke free from one of the restraints being used. Officials say Thompson was physically resisting and moving his body to try and free himself from deputies as well as attempting to grab the deputies while they were attempting to move him to a protective cell. Once in his cell, deputies say that Thompson was no longer responsive and they immediately began life saving measures before transporting him back to the hospital by REMSA.

At this point, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office contacted the Sparks Police Department and requested the Sparks Police Department conduct a criminal investigation on August 5th.

Officials say that Thompson was placed on life support and declared brain dead on August 7th.

On August 15th, 2016, the Washoe County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy of Thompson and on January 25th, 2017, they concluded their investigation, ruling the cause of death as: Anoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy Following Cardiac Arrest.  They said the manner of death was ruled a Homicide, as the death occurred due to complications of being physically restrained. 

Following is an explanation for the ruling by the examiner's office:

"The Medical Examiner’s Office concluded that Thompson probably would not have experienced cardiac arrest when he did, if not for the exertion of violent struggle against restraint by others; therefore, the manner of death is best deemed Homicide.  Thompson’s own actions (resisting) also led to his death.  Natural disease of his heart and obesity also contributed.  Thompson had Marijuana in his system; however, marijuana did not contribute directly to his death."

Authorities say that based on this investigation, there is no evidence of criminal liability in the death of Thompson and the Sparks Police Department say they have concluded their criminal investigation.

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