WCDA Report Released Detailing October 18, 2022 Officer Involved Shooting Incident of Jason Thorpe
OIS Report Released

Media Release
For Immediate Release

Contact: Kendall Holcomb
775-328-3223 (o)


Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks has determined that the October 18, 2022, Officer Involved Shooting (OIS) of Jason Thorpe by Sparks Police Department Officers and Detectives Jose Zendejas, Vern Taylor, Nathan Janning, John Parisi, Brandon Doren, Jacob Tavcar, and Robert Canterbury were justified under Nevada law.

Consistent with this office’s ongoing public reporting on all OIS cases, District Attorney Hicks has released a detailed 54-page report containing the facts of the case, photographs, identification of those involved, witness accounts, and the legal analysis supporting the case’s conclusion.  This determination is based on an extensive review of the investigation conducted by the Reno Police Department, which was submitted to this office.  

On October 18, 2022, at 2:59am Sparks Police Department (hereinafter “SPD”) Sergeant Ed Wilson (hereinafter “Sgt. Wilson”) exited the Sparks Police Department from a side-door which led to a secured parking area.  Sgt. Wilson heard a noise coming from a landscaped area adjacent to the station causing him to draw his handgun which contained a mounted flashlight.  Sgt. Wilson pointed his light in the area where the noise had emanated from and saw a male subject holding a gun. This male subject, later identified as Jason Thorpe (hereinafter “Thorpe”), was located on the other side of an iron fence which separated the front parking lot of the station from the secured area accessible only to employees of the Sparks Police Department.  Sgt. Wilson immediately took cover behind a tree and alerted dispatch of the situation. 

Just prior to Sgt. Wilson exiting the building, SPD Sergeant Nick Pagni (hereinafter “Sgt. Pagni”) was arriving at work for the beginning of his shift.  Upon pulling up to the building Sgt. Pagni heard what he believed to be a gunshot coming from the area near the front parking lot of the station.  Sgt. Pagni drove his personal vehicle to that area to investigate the source of the gunshot.  Seeing nothing, Sgt. Pagni entered the secured area of the parking lot and began walking toward the station.  At that time, Sgt. Pagni observed Sgt. Wilson taking cover behind a tree and communicating with Thorpe.

Due to the nature of the situation the SPD Special Weapons and Tactics Team (hereinafter “SWAT) was called in addition to the SPD Hostage Negotiations Team (hereinafter “HNT”).  Members of the SWAT team relieved other patrol officers who had initially responded and set up a perimeter on both sides of the iron fence described above.  Due to Thorpe being armed with a gun and next to the police station, civilian employees were evacuated for their safety.

From the moment of his initial contact, Sgt. Wilson immediately began to speak with Thorpe and attempt to de-escalate the situation.  Specifically, Sgt. Wilson made repeated requests for Thorpe to drop his weapon and move away from it so officers could assist him.  These efforts continued for over two hours while members of SWAT maintained a perimeter around the scene.

While efforts to obtain Thorpe’s compliance continued, video surveillance cameras mounted on the police station were reviewed.  Thorpe was seen discharging a gun into the air just prior to Sgt. Wilson exiting the building and contacting him.  For over two hours, Sgt. Wilson spoke to Thorpe, making repeated commands and requests for Thorpe to drop his weapon and move away from the gun so that he could be assisted.  Throughout most of the encounter, Thorpe maintained possession of the gun and would not comply with Sgt. Wilson’s commands.  At one point, Thorpe placed his pistol on the ground near his feet but refused to move away from the weapon. 

At 5:07am, Thorpe suddenly picked up the gun from the ground, aimed it in the direction of the police station, and fired a round towards the building.  Thorpe then ran directly at officers stationed by the front parking lot of the building while still armed with the pistol.  Believing that Thorpe posed an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to themselves or others, seven officers fired their service weapons, striking Thorpe multiple times and causing him to fall to the ground.  The entire event was captured on video surveillance cameras mounted on the side of the police station.  Medical aid was rendered by multiple officers following the shooting, but Thorpe was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Consistent with the regionally adopted Officer Involved Shooting (hereinafter “OIS”) Protocol, the Reno Police Department (hereinafter “RPD”) led the investigation into the shooting of Thorpe.  Secondary investigative support was provided by the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office (hereinafter “WCSO”) and forensic services were provided by the Washoe County Crime Laboratory (hereinafter “WCCL”).  The investigation included witness interviews, examination of physical evidence located on scene, review of video surveillance footage from multiple locations in addition to body-worn camera footage, and forensic examination of evidence.

All investigation reports, photographs, documents, video footage, forensic reports, witness statements, and recorded interviews were submitted to the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office September 26, 2023, for a determination of whether the shooting of Thorpe was legally justified.  No criminal charges were recommended by the RPD for the officers involved in the shooting.  The District Attorney’s evaluation included the review of hundreds of pages of police reports and documents which included interviews of police and civilian witnesses.  It further included the review of photographs, diagrams, and video footage. 

Based on the available evidence and the applicable legal authorities, it is the opinion of the District Attorney that the shooting of Jason Thorpe by Sparks Police Department Officers and Detectives Jose Zendejas, Vern Taylor, Nathan Janning, John Parisi, Brandon Doren, Jacob Tavcar, and Robert Canterbury was justified and not a criminal act.

Prior to the shooting, Thorpe was observed on video concealing himself behind a retaining wall and landscaping near a secured portion of the Sparks Police Department.  He was armed with a loaded and operational semi-automatic 9mm handgun.  Thorpe, who bore a large tattoo that stated, “FUCK COPS,” had methamphetamine in his system at levels capable of causing hallucinations, aggressiveness, irrational reactions, and violent behavior.  At numerous points, he brandished a weapon toward the station and fired once into the air.  Upon being discovered, Sgt. Wilson pleaded with Thorpe to dispossess the weapon and engaged in de-escalation techniques such as identification of themselves as law enforcement officers, offering comfort and aid to Thorpe, expressing sympathy, empathy, and praise, all over the course of approximately two (2) hours.  These efforts were all unsuccessful. 

Without warning or provocation, Thorpe retook possession of the weapon and fired a second round, this time aimed at the Sparks Police Department.  This occurred in clear view of responding officers.  While armed with this weapon, Thorpe then charged towards the same officers who had just seen him fire at the station.  Every officer involved in the shooting expressed their belief that Thorpe posed an imminent threat to their safety and/or the safety of others.  This belief was objectively reasonable.  Simply, Thorpe was an imminent threat to the life and safety of every person on scene.

In that moment, the involved detectives and officers reasonably believed that their lives were in jeopardy as well as those of their fellow officers and the community at large.  It was absolutely necessary for them to use deadly force in that situation.  In short, all involved detectives and officers had the right under Nevada law to use deadly force against Thorpe.

Unless new circumstances come to light that contradict the factual foundation upon which this decision was made, this case is officially closed.  Copies of all completed OIS reports are available on the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office’s website at 

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