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Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
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Police Shoot the Wrong Woman, Kill Her Mom

RENO, Nev. (CN) - Sparks, Nev. police answering a call about a suicidal woman shot the woman's daughter by mistake, then killed the mother, and the daughter wants them to pay for it.

Darcie Latham sued Sparks, its Police Department and three officers in Federal Court Wednesday, accusing them of shooting her in the upper leg, then killing her suicidal mother, whom police thought had a gun.

Latham, 27, says she and her sister were checking on their mother, Monica Ritchey, at her home in Sparks after 2 p.m. on Oct. 13, 2013, when their mother held a gun to her own head and threatened to shoot herself if her daughters got any closer.

Latham called 911 and says defendant Officers Chad Mowbray, Ryan Simpson and Sgt. Michael Keating responded, incorrectly identified her as her mother and shot her.

Latham says she told the police dispatcher she was with her sister outside and that her mother was armed, threatened to kill herself, fired rounds into the air, was depressed and on pain medication, and threatened to shoot herself if police showed up.

The dispatcher told Sparks police that Latham and her sister were outside their mother's home, and Mowbray deployed an AR-15 rifle when he arrived and stayed at his car, Latham says in the complaint.

Latham says she was backing up while holding a phone to her ear with one hand and held the other over her head when Mowbray shot her.

She says that either Simpson or Keating said over the radio that Ritchey had pointed a gun at them and told Mowbray to "take the shot," which he did after confirming the order. He shot Latham - not her mother.

Latham was maimed and suffers from permanent neurological injuries.

Washoe County District Attorney Dick Gammick investigated and in August 2014 said the officers were justified in shooting and killing Ritchey and wounding Latham, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported. Gammick said in his report that Mowbray had "reasonable belief" that his fellow officers were in "imminent danger of being shot" by Latham, the newspaper reported.

After Mowbray shot Latham in the leg, other officers thought Ritchey had fired the shot, and Keating shot and killed her, according to the Gazette-Journal.

Latham seeks punitive damages for civil rights violations and negligence.

She is represented by Richard Salvatore with the Hardy Law Group, who was not immediately available for comment. The Sparks Police Department does not comment on pending lawsuits.

Sparks, pop. 93,000, is a sister city to Reno, Sparks directly east of it.

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