City of Sparks settles wrongful death lawsuit for $2 million

Still shot of the officer-involved shooting from body worn camera.
Still shot of the officer-involved shooting from body worn camera.(Sparks Police Department)
Published: May. 19, 2023 at 4:55 PM PDT|Updated: May. 19, 2023 at 7:15 PM PDT
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SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) -The city of Sparks’s insurance company has paid $2 million to settle an excessive force and wrongful death lawsuit over the January 2020 shooting death of a man described as armed and suicidal.

The parents of Miciah Lee agreed in April to accept the settlement and the city’s last payment was on Thursday, lawyer Terri Keyser-Cooper said.

The city of Sparks said the decision to settle was made by Traveler’s, the city’s insurance company. It hoped the settlement would give everyone closure.

Lee was 18 years old and diagnosed with multiple personality disorders, including bipolar disorder, and was having a mental health crisis when he was killed on Jan. 5, 2020, Keyser-Cooper said in a statement.

His mother thought he was suicidal and called police to warn them of his mental problems and to say he was suicidal and said he want to die by cop or kill himself, Keyser-Cooper’s statement said.

Police found him in the area 15th Street and Rock Boulevard and were not successful in stopping him. He drove off and crashed near McCarran Boulevard and Rock Boulevard.

Police tried to use a police dog to stop him and there was a confrontation. Police saw Lee had a gun in the vehicle and police fired, killing Lee.

Keyser-Cooper said police shot Lee even though he was passive and was not threatening anyone.

The Washoe County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the case and ruled the shooting was justified. Keyser-Cooper said District Attorney Christopher Hicks said he has no memory of his office ever finding fault with any police shooting in the entire history of the office.

Two Sparks police chiefs agreed the first officer to fire failed to follow his training even though he had the time and opportunity to follow his training, Keyser-Cooper said.

The settlement also requires all Sparks police officers to receive 40 hours of crisis intervention training and then get a yearly refresher, Keyser-Cooper said. Officers will also receive training on use of force, suicidal subject response and interacting with people with behavioral health issues.

“During the course of the litigation, the City’s excess insurance carrier (Traveler’s) decided early in the case to exercise its right under the insurance contract with the City to hire outside counsel to handle the case,” the city said in a statement. “When this occurs, the City no longer has ultimate authority over the direction of the case. During a settlement conference in Las Vegas, the parties settled the case for $2 million.”

The scene at McCarran Boulevard and Rock Boulevard. Photo by Abel Garcia/KOLO.
The scene at McCarran Boulevard and Rock Boulevard. Photo by Abel Garcia/KOLO.(KOLO)