- Associated Press - Thursday, February 4, 2016

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Two veteran detectives were justified when they fatally shot an armed fugitive when he grabbed a handgun from his waistband while approaching the officers near a daycare center in September 2014, Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks said Thursday.

Hicks also announced a new policy intended to increase transparency during investigations of shootings involving officers in releasing a detailed, 27-page report on the probe clearing Washoe County sheriff’s Det. Sean Wallace and Sparks police Det. Jason Edmondson in the killing of James Bowman, 42.

Hicks said the officers fired a total of 11 shots after Bowman refused their orders, repeatedly yelled “don’t make me do it” and reached for a gun while walking toward them in the driveway of a home near the Head Start Learning Center at the county government complex just north of Interstate 80.

The officers said they knew based on a briefing earlier that morning that Bowman was a suspect in a shooting in Sparks two months earlier, was wanted as a federal fugitive, had been convicted twice before as a felon in possession of a firearm and recently had told an associate he was “not going back to prison.”

They caught up with him near 8th and Sutro streets after he and another man had fled a traffic stop, eluded pursuing officers on I-80, ditched the vehicle near Wells Avenue and fled on foot.

Edmondson, who fired five shots, said Bowman had clenched hands, a red-flushed face and was acting like “we’d cornered a wild animal” when they saw him jump a fence into the driveway.

Bowman reached underneath his shirt with his right hand then made “a fist around something in his waistband that was darker than his stomach” and began “to move as if he was drawing a gun,” Edmondson said in his police report.

Hicks said investigators recovered a stolen, loaded .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol at the scene, as well as a large amount of heroin, methamphetamine and psychedelic mushrooms from his pants and backpack.

An autopsy revealed Bowman had meth in his blood system when he died as a result of seven gunshot wounds.

Hicks concluded the detectives “reasonably believed” that they and others in the area “were in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm.”

“It was absolutely necessary for them to use deadly force,” he said Thursday.

Hicks, a former deputy district attorney, was elected DA in 2014 after the county’s longtime chief prosecutor Richard Gammick decided not to run for re-election. He announced the results of his investigation in a 2-page news release typical of the way such probes have been handled. But he said he also was posting on the county website a “first-of-its-kind” 27-page public report on the findings.

The report included extensive background on the officers, the suspect, the chain of events, witness accounts and relevant statutes, along with police photos and cruiser-dashboard video that captured various segments of the confrontation.

“In these times, transparency is every-important,” Hicks said. “It is imperative that the public be able to review what circumstances caused an officer in the line of duty to shoot a subject and examine what dictates a DA’s review of the case.”

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