Sparks Police deem inmate's death in 2016 a homicide

*WARNING: Some of the content in this story contains graphic details*

Sparks Police have announced that the death of an inmate over the summer of 2016 has been deemed a homicide.

On Aug. 3, 2016, at about 10:40 a.m., Reno Police responded to a report of a family disturbance on the 1400 block of Peckham Lane.

The male suspect, later identified as Justin Thompson, had left the scene before authorities arrived.

After speaking with the victim, Reno officers determined that they had probable cause to arrest Thompson for domestic battery.

Officers also learned that Thompson had a history of mental illness and was not taking his medication at the time.

Shortly after fleeing, Thompson was located in the 4600 block of Neil Road. Officers described his behavior as acting in a bizarre manner, pacing around and refusing to listen to officers' commands.

At one point, according to police, Thompson began to disrobe while pacing back and forth after not listening to officers, who eventually detained him.

Thompson continued to resist officers by throwing himself on the ground. Officers sat Thompson on the grass, and he tried to get away by rolling on the ground.

Officers requested REMSA to treat Thompson for his self-inflicted injuries and his mental state. Thompson, police say, was combative with REMSA, spitting on a medic before he was transported, treated and ultimately released.

Thompson was then transported to the Washoe County Jail and booked on the charges of domestic violence, battery on a protected person, and obstructing. Once booked into jail, Thompson refused to answer medical questions from medical staff for 24 hours. During that time, Thompson was exhibiting delusional, erratic and self-destructive behavior. Police say Thompson was standing on the sink, talking to the ceiling, and plugging his ears while activating the sink with his feet. Thompson also ripped off scabs on his hands and wrote on the walls with his own blood, according to police.

On Aug. 4, 2016, the 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. Due to Thompson's behavior, the Washoe County Detention Response Team was called.

Thompson refused to listen to commands of the Detention Response Team so he had to be restrained and placed on a gurney and transported to the hospital. He was treated and released the same day.

After being transported back to jail, Thompson was uncooperative with jail deputies by pulling his arms away from deputies, kicking his legs, and ultimately breaking free from one of the restraints.

Thompson was physically resisting and moving his body trying to free himself from deputies as well as trying to grab them.

Deputies attempted to move Thompson to a protective cell when they noticed he was unresponsive and they immediately began life-saving efforts. Thompson was immediately transported back to the hospital by REMSA.

On Aug. 5, 2016, the Washoe County Sheriff's Office requested that the Sparks Police Department conduct a criminal investigation.

Thompson was placed on life support and declared brain dead on Aug. 7, 2016.

On Aug. 15, 2016, the Washoe County Medical Examiner's Office conducted an autopsy on Thompson.

In Jan. of 2017, the medical examiner's office concluded their investigation and determined the cause of death was ruled "Anoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy following Cardiac Arrest." The manner of death was ruled "homicide, as the death occurred due to complications of being physically restrained."

Medical examiners 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 his death is best deemed homicide.

Thompson's actions, such as resisting, also led to his death. Natural disease of his heart and obesity contributed to his death, according to police.

Sparks Police say that based on their investigation into the case, there is no evidence of criminal liability.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off