Who shot Darcie Latham?

Readers may recall this quote from our Feb. 27 story, “Who watches the watchers?”

“I heard a gunshot, and I saw my sister [Darcie Latham] fall, and I thought, ‘Oh my god, she just killed her,'” [Brittnie Andrews] said. “And then the cops started to walk forward, and I heard shots. They were shooting my mom. Then I heard, ‘Keep your guns on her,' and I realized there was a second set of cops on the other side of my mom. … After they had shot my mom, I heard them saying, ‘Keep the guns on her, her hand's moving.'”

The story continued on to talk about how the media handled the story.

“It was a crime scene of the sort that makes news producers and editors drool—police and perps with guns blazing, a family in distress, blood in the street and sudden death in quiet suburbia. The only problem was that the local news media was asleep at the press, and apparently nobody—not the newspapers, not the television news stations, not the radio stations, not the all-seeing internet—got this story right.”

Well, guess what? Neither did we. But it wasn't for lack of trying. A message was left on Sparks Police Chief Brian Allen's voicemail on Feb. 21, six days before the story was published, but it was not returned. The Sparks Police Department also released a report on the matter that did not include any mention of the possibility that somebody besides Monica Ritchey shot the 25-year-old Latham. That doesn't prove an intent to deceive, as other investigative agencies take over investigations of officer-involved shootings, and documents were still being added to the file four days after the Oct. 13 shooting, but it certainly speaks to the reliability of witnesses. There were further public documents (press releases) requested of the Sparks PD on Feb. 26 that may contain explanatory information, but they have not been produced.

In a stunning revelation, Darcie Latham's attorney, Richard A. Salvatore of the Hardy Law Group, says that his client was shot by an officer with the Sparks Police Department—not by her mother.

“All I can tell you at this juncture is that our investigation leads us to believe that one of the officers shot Darcie Latham,” Salvatore said. “And the notion that her mom shot her is incorrect. I'm not at liberty to discuss what facts I know. I mean, it's ongoing litigation.”

He said that it's generally the practice of both sides in a litigation to not give out too much information, as that information may come back in unexpected ways.

“You can't just go out because information that's out there is information that will be used in some way, mostly against us,” he said. “So I can't comment on information I've collected, but I can tell you that that is where our investigation leads us. Let me also say we have to do a ton more, and we will know a lot more because the information that has not been disclosed is the entire Monica Ritchey case and Darcie Latham case.

“At some point, Dick Gammick, district attorney for Washoe County, will have to review this and determine whether the officers' actions were appropriate or not. Once that happens, we will be able to collect that information that law enforcement has put together. I mean, ballistics—you name it—blood spatter, photos, officer statements. They will look at the firearms to see when and how many times they were discharged, and we should have pretty much the whole boat of information once the district attorney looks at this case and renders his opinion.”

For her part, Brittnie Andrews, the young woman who witnessed both shootings and commented in our story, said she didn't want to say anything that might negatively impact her sister's case.

Sparks Police Chief Brian Allen said this is an active and open investigation by the Reno Police Department and until the investigation is completed he will not have further comment.