Staff Report

An alleged battery of a 58-year-old man on the 200 block of Ryland Street has a multitude of police arrive at the scene. Two men are confronted and for the crime leading to a fight between them and the police. One man is hospitalized, the other is arrested. Or so it’s told.

The Reno Police Department took Andres “Nick” Meza and Jacob Finn, after a violent altercation between the two men and multiple officers which resulted in Meza being hospitalized with multiple stitches on his forehead and a broken hand.

The police press release reads:

“At approximately 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 5, 2016, Reno Police Department Officers responded to a report of a battery in progress at the 200 block of Ryland Street. Upon arrival, officers discovered that a 58-year-old man had been severely beaten by two neighbors, one of whom was armed with a hammer, over a noise dispute.

Officers located the two suspects, identified as Andres Meza, age 23, and Jacob Robert Finn, age 22, both of whom resisted officers’ attempts to detain them. Finn began to push and kick one officer while Meza, still armed with the hammer, moved toward another officer, ignoring commands to stop and put down the hammer. The officer struck Meza with a baton and deployed a Taser in his defense. No officers were injured during the incident.

Both suspects were ultimately taken into custody. Finn was transported to the Washoe County Detention Facility and Meza was taken to a local hospital for treatment of injuries sustained while confronting the officers.”

However, reports from Meza and Finn as well as eyewitnesses tell a different story. Both Meza and Finn say that the unidentified 58-year-old man was the aggressor in the situation and that the police used unjustified force.

The two had been at the Foxy Olive Bar on Mill Street prior to the altercation with the 58-year-old man. In separate interviews with the two, both Finn and Meza  say that they had been drinking and were returning home when the fight occurred. Reports from the Foxy Olive corroborated their story.

Finn and Meza claim that minutes after they left the Foxy Olive, they were crossing through the parking lot of the apartment complex at 264 Mill Street when they were approached by the 58-year-old man in question.

Both Meza and Finn describe the event with the 58-year-old, who was unable to be reached at the time of this story, as being the one who brandished the hammer and intended to fight them. The two then wrestled the hammer away from the man and proceeded to subdue him.

“I choked him out and then put him on the ground and hit him,: said Finn, “I hit him once, but he was fine. He was on his knees and conscious.”

They claim that they then left the parking lot of the apartment complex, where the fight took place, not on the 200 block of Ryland as the police press release states.

After returning to Meza’s home on Ryland Street, the two reportedly only had moments to process the fight that had just occurred when the police arrived.

“We were just like ‘what just happened?’” said Finn. “Then next thing you know we’re surrounded by lights and police cars.”

Finn and Meza’s retelling of their encounter with the police includes different details than those found in the police press release.

“[Meza] starts going into his house,” said Finn, “And then the cop grabs me, and I turned around and said ‘I’m not resisting.’”

The police press release states that Finn was uncooperative, and his statements seems to corroborate this. But the report says that Meza charged the police with a hammer.

According to Meza, the police attacked him while he was recording the altercation with his phone between one of the officers and Finn.

“I pulled out my phone and started recording,” said Meza, “I was telling [Finn] to come inside, which was a terrible idea, because he was being arrested. Then the second cop pulls up and runs straight for me. I assumed that because I was inside the house that they couldn’t come in because they didn’t have a warrant and I was never told that I was under arrest. He slammed on the door and I pressed on the door to keep him out, but the second time he slammed right through me and hit me with his baton.”

Meza sustained multiple strikes from a baton after the police officer entered his house. A broken hand, multiple stitches on his forehead and a severely bruised arm were the result.

During the altercation, Meza says that he was does not remember having a hammer in his hands and definitely didn’t charge the police.

Eye witness reports also contrast with the police statement.

A post on Facebook by Alyssa Sosa, who is roommates with Meza and was there during the incident states:

“That is exactly the time that i woke up to find four-five police officers slamming Nick’s face into the cement repeatedly, even though he was compliant. He was getting tased even though he was already on the ground, and my roommates and I got guns pointed at us for asking what was going on.”

The police statement also states that a taser was also deployed by the police officer during the fight. However, Meza thinks that the use of the taser was excessively forceful.

“I don’t remember being tased,” said Meza. “I feel as if I was unconscious and they tased an unconscious body.”

Meza was booked into Renown Regional Medical Center to treat his wounds and Finn was booked into jail.

The footage, which lasted 1 minute and 22 seconds, that Meza filmed was subsequently posted to Facebook by Shawn Palomares. The video has since been shared almost 400 times and currently has over 19,000 views.

 

 

The recording of the incident sparked outcry from the community. A slew of posts on social media from friends of Meza and Finn as well as members of the community voiced their opinion after the event made headlines at local news outlets, such as the Reno Gazette Journal articleInquiry launched after Reno officer uses force on man armed with hammer”.

In the comment section of This is Reno’s article “Eye-Witness Accounts Differ From Reno Police In Use-Of-Force Case” a user named Heather and Larry posted:

“Nick Meza (Andres) is a current employee of ours and has worked for us for years. He has better work ethic and shows more respect for people than most adults we know. He’s the kind of guy who shows up on time, stays late, and has shown a TON of composure in what can be a very high stress work environment. Nick is also the kind of guy who volunteers regularly for a local non-profit … and has what appears to be an endless community of friends, the kind of friends who showed up one by one to tell us that Nick couldn’t make it into work last week because he was in the hospital.”

A benefit concert was also held next door to Meza’s house on Ryland Street to raise awareness for Meza’s situation as well as raise funds for Meza’s medical bills, eventually raising over $400.

According to Finn, he is being charged with battery, battery on a protected person and resisting arrest, two of which are felony charges. As for Meza, he reports being charged with battery with a deadly weapon.

Both are planning on fighting their charges and Meza is planning on filing a civil suit against the Reno Police Department.

An investigation by the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office into the Reno Police department’s use of force in this case is being conducted.

The Nevada Sagebrush staff can be reached at tbynum@sagebrush.unr.edu or on Twitter @TheSagebrush.