Reno police officer who accidentally shot suspect pulled trigger when hit by another officer’s Taser

May 28, 2024, 2:20 PM

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A Reno police officer accidentally shot an unarmed suspect in 2020 when he flinched and pulled the trigger on his service revolver in an inadvertent response to being stuck by a Taser fired by another officer, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks cleared Officer Richard Jager of any criminal wrongdoing with the release of a report on the investigation of the non-fatal, officer-involved shooting. The neighboring Sparks Police Department led the investigation.

The suspect, Christopher Sheahan, was treated at a hospital and survived the single gunshot wound to the shoulder. He was found guilty of one count of resisting a public officer in February 2022 and ultimately sentenced to one day in jail, Hicks said.

Jager, who was in his second week on the job after recently graduating from the law enforcement academy, was treated at a local hospital where the Taser probe was removed from his knee. No one else was hurt.

The shooting occurred on July 26, 2020, when several officers surrounded Sheahan, who was failing to comply with their commands in a parking lot following a traffic incident. Sheahan told the initial responding officer he had some mental issues, and he exhibited erratic behavior, including removing clothing during the confrontation, according to the investigative report.

Eventually, Washoe County sheriff’s deputy George Cholico, a 15-year veteran of the force, “reasonably” concluded the only way to gain Sheahan’s compliance was to utilize his Taser, Hicks wrote in the report.

“Unfortunately, Deputy Cholico’s Taser partially missed its target, with a single Taser probe striking Officer Jager in the right knee. The embedding of the Taser probe into Officer Jager’s knee caused him to flinch and inadvertently pull the trigger of his firearm resulting in a single bullet strike to Sheahan’s right shoulder,” Hicks said.

“The evidence from the entirety of the investigation demonstrates that Officer Jager’s discharge of his firearm was not willful, but accidental. In other words, Officer Jager lacked the willful intent to shoot Sheahan,” he wrote.

Hicks said the investigation of the shooting and subsequent evaluation of whether any criminal charges were warranted included the review of hundreds of pages of reports and documents, interviews with police and witnesses, as well as photographs, 911 calls, video recordings and an examination of the shooting scene.

Hicks said that Sheahan told investigators during an interview while he was recovering at the hospital that he failed to follow the officers’ commands multiple times. He said he was trying to let officers know he did not have any weapons by emptying his pockets.

“Sheahan acknowledged that `I should have just listened to the officer’s orders and not gotten out of my car and freaked out like I did,'” Hicks wrote. He also apologized and expressed “his gratitude to the officers administering first aid and `saving my life.’”

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Reno police officer who accidentally shot suspect pulled trigger when hit by another officer’s Taser