Groups Call For Federal Investigation Into Columbus Day Clash

Nov 1, 2016

Charlene Dressler
Credit Bob Conrad

Dozens of groups and hundreds of individuals have signed a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). They are seeking a review of the Reno Police Department's (RPD) response to the clash on Columbus Day under the Reno arch. Our reporter Bob Conrad has the story.

Native Americans and their allies were protesting downtown that day calling for Columbus Day to be changed to Indigenous Peoples Day.

Three people now face misdemeanor charges for an incident in which the driver of a truck, Nick Mahaffey, drove through the crowd of demonstrators. He ran over a woman, putting her in the hospital with multiple fractures.

Charlene Dressler, a Paiute from Winnemucca, says that Mahaffey got off easy with a charge of provoking an assault. "We don't believe that Mahaffey was charged with the appropriate crime or offense," Dressler said. "He had the least penalty of all three who were arrested, and he doesn't face as large of penalty as the others."

Two others face charges of simple battery for punching Mahaffey and his juvenile passenger before Mahaffey drove through the crowd.

Critics of RPD said that officers took statements only from select witnesses.

That includes Raquel Arthur of the American Indian Movement of Northern Nevada.

"The Reno PD dropped the ball when they first came to the crime scene," said Raquel Arthur of the American Indian Movement of Northern Nevada. "We wanted to make a statement."

Reno City Councilman Oscar Delgado said at Wednesday's City Council meeting that the charges against Mahaffey are in the hands of Reno City Attorney Karl Hall.

The Reno Police Department said that it would not comment further on the situation because it is an ongoing investigation.