Sparks Officer Cleared in December Shooting Death

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A Sparks police officer has been cleared in the December shooting death of a man outside a convenience store.

After a four month review of the case, Washoe County District Attorney Dick Gammick said Officer Scott Tracy acted properly when he shot and killed John McCoy Jr., outside a convenience store Dec. 9.

"Based on my understanding of the facts ... I find the shooting of John McCoy by Officer Scott Tracy to be justified under the laws of the state of Nevada," Gammick said in a report released Monday.

Gammick said McCoy, the son of slain West Virginia union miner, was known to officers as a gang associate and heavy drug user who had indicated verbally and in writing to acquaintances that he was armed and would not be taken to jail.

An autopsy also showed McCoy, 23, had a "very high" concentration of amphetamine and methamphetamine at the time of his death, Gammick said.

On the evening of Dec. 9, members of a regional gang unit had a warrant for his arrest and had set up surveillance at a home. Gammick said the officers' plan was to arrest him after he left the residence.

Three teams of officers followed him in unmarked police vehicles when McCoy left the residence in a white Kia and went to a 7-11 store, Gammick said.

After surrounding McCoy's car, Tracy, a seven-year department veteran, and other officers approached him and identified themselves as police officers. McCoy threw the car into reverse and struck the front of one police vehicle, a Blazer.

"Fearing for the safety of another police officer as well as himself, Officer Tracy fired two rounds at McCoy, striking him both times," Gammick's report said.

McCoy was pronounced dead at the scene.

Gammick added that another experienced officer at the scene was deciding whether he should shoot McCoy when he heard Tracy's weapon fire.

After the shooting, McCoy's sister, Shannon McCoy-Deese of Sparks, said she believed her brother would be alive had he been given more of a chance to surrender.

Deese also said McCoy turned to petty crimes and drugs because he could not deal with the 1990 shooting death of his father, John McCoy Sr., in a West Virginia picket line.

The elder McCoy is the subject of a book, "Death on the Picket Line: The Story of John McCoy" by Jerry White. The book traces the history of four generations of McCoy coal miners and the struggles that molded the elder McCoy.

No one has ever been charged in his death.

"He idolized our dad and was angry at the world ever since then," Deese said.