- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A 41-year-old ex-convict from Utah could be eligible for parole almost immediately after being sentenced Wednesday to 12 to 30 months in Nevada state prison for a shooting that left him and a Mesquite police officer wounded almost a year ago.

Daniel Wesley Runyon was trying to commit suicide and shot himself in the head during the confrontation with police during a traffic stop March 21, Deputy Public Defender Melissa Navarro said in court.

In what amounted to the first public accounting of the shooting, Navarro said Runyon was trying to kill himself and wasn’t trying to get police to kill him when he botched a shot to his own head.

Runyon was wounded in the left wrist by police gunfire.

Navarro said outside court she couldn’t account for Mesquite police Officer Craig Empey’s leg wound.

Police had said Empey and Mesquite police Detective Gary Erickson both fired shots in the exchange. Erickson escaped injury.

Police said they found methamphetamine in the maroon Geo Metro that they stopped with Runyon and a 48-year-old Utah woman inside.

Runyon told Clark County District Court Judge Kenneth Cory that his depression and mood swings are now helped by prescribed medication, and he has a handyman job waiting when he is released from custody.

“I feel I need to stay on my medication, otherwise I’ll be right back here,” he said.

The judge observed that with 349 days of credit for time served in jail, Runyon could be paroled within days.

Runyon was found mentally fit for trial before pleading guilty in November to being an ex-convict in possession of a firearm.

His plea deal avoided trial on multiple charges including attempted murder, assault with a weapon, and drug transport and trafficking that could have gotten him decades in prison.

Empey, a veteran police officer and former Nye County sheriff’s deputy, was the first Mesquite police officer ever wounded on duty.

Empey was working Wednesday, Sgt. MaQuade Chesley said, and didn’t attend Runyon’s sentencing.

Records show that Runyon, with his name also spelled Runyan and using several other names, served prison time in the 1990s on drug, forgery, bad check and burglary charges in Nebraska and a federal prison in North Dakota. He also spent time in the 2000s in Utah prisons.

He lived in Richfield, Utah.

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Find Ken Ritter on Twitter: https://twitter.com/krttr

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