The Washoe County District Attorney has found that an officer was “justified under Nevada law” in shooting a Las Vegas man who pulled a gun on the officer during a 2019 pursuit near Reno High School.
On Friday, Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks released a report detailing why the shooting of Michael Wootan, 35, by the Reno Police Department was warranted given the circumstances.
“The shooting occurred after a brief pursuit, which ended when Wootan crashed the stolen vehicle he was driving and fled the scene on foot,” the report reads. “Wootan, who was armed with a stolen handgun when confronted by the officer, repeatedly pointed the handgun at the officer while ignoring commands to drop his weapon and was shot.”
Wootan was arrested on Jan. 27, 2019 after Reno police officer Kevin Hendrix chased him following an attempt to pull him over for speeding near Reno High.
Initially fleeing the scene in the vehicle, and then on foot, police say Wootan was caught and given orders to drop the handgun that he pointed at Hendrix.
According to the district attorney’s report, Wootan had spoken with family and friends about not going back to prison and shared that his plan was to be shot by a police officer.
“He had also made several statements to family and friends before and after the shooting indicating he would not go back to prison and had intended for the officer to shoot him,” the report says.
According to officials, Wootan ignored several verbal commands and stood up to point the gun at Hendrix before the officer shot him twice and held him at gunpoint until backup officers arrived. Wootan was taken to Renown hospital and survived his injuries.
Upon further investigation, detectives determined Wootan was on parole at the time of the incident for previous burglary convictions and that the vehicle he was driving the night of the incident had been stolen two days prior.
In Oct. 2019, Wootan was sentenced as a habitual offender and given a life sentence in prison with the possibility of parole after 10 years.
Investigators did not recommend criminal charges against Hendrix and Hicks’ own investigation determined that Hendrix’s actions were not criminal.
“Based on the available evidence and the applicable legal authorities, it is the opinion of the District Attorney that the shooting of Wootan by Officer Hendrix was justified and not a criminal act,” Hicks’ report reads.
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