Reno, NV — Surveillance footage, released to the Reno Gazette-Journal through a public records request, shows the terrifying final moments of 35-year-old Justin Thompson, a man in the midst of a mental breakdown. For 30 minutes, nearly a dozen Washoe County Sheriff’s deputies took turns kicking, tasering, insulting, and crushing the wind from Thompson — who noted multiple times that he could not breathe through the spit mask over his head.

The tragic incident began to unfold on August 3, 2016, when Thompson was arrested. His family and girlfriend reported that Thompson is bipolar and had been off his medication for some time. During the bipolar episode, Thompson, who has no previous criminal record, was arrested on charges of domestic battery.

The clearly distressed man exhibited severe signs of mental distress and was unable to be booked, so he was placed in a holding cell. For hours after being arrested, Thompson jammed his fingers into his ears. He paced, clutched his head and stuffed toilet paper into his ears. He spent hours on the floor curled up in the fetal position before peeling off his scabby skin to use his own blood to draw on the floor, walls, and camera.

Heavily armored deputies in riot gear then raided Thompson’s cell to drag him out.

Instead of admitting him for psychiatric treatment, Thompson was brought to the hospital and given an injection of Haldol, a powerful antipsychotic drug, and Benadryl, before being sent back to jail.

When bringing him back to jail, Thompson appeared docile until a deputy grabs his face while trying to take a mugshot and shoves it to the side. Thompson, whose arms were chained to his waist, became agitated, slipped out onto the floor and a struggle began.


“How’s this? Does this feel good,” a deputy says as Thompson appears to lie still, his wrists still chained to his belly.

In their attempt to get the mentally ill man in the stretcher to bring him to the hospital, more than a half-dozen deputies took turns kneeling on, kicking, tasering, and insulting him. Yet for 30 minutes, the swarm of officers was unable to subdue the single man.

When Thompson complains that he can’t breathe, a deputy can be heard answering back, “No, you’re not being compliant, Justin. We could’ve just rolled you through the process but you’re being a d**k about the whole thing.”

As the deputies continue to increase pressure on him, both mentally and physically, Thompson becomes more distressed.

“So now we are to this level and you’re going to get carried in a little wrap because you can’t maintain enough thought to go through this process like a man,” the deputy says. “If you hurt my staff, you are going to catch a felony. Understand? We are not going to get injured by you. And if you lash out, I am going to make sure that you remember it.” 

For the next 25 minutes, the video shows deputies slowly squeeze the air from Thompson’s lungs until he finally stopped breathing.

Thompson was brought to the hospital where he was put on life support with no brain activity. For five days, no one even told his family where he was.

When Karen Thompson, Justin’s mother called the jail she signed up for automatic text notifications on inmates. On August 7, she goa a message saying her son had been released.

They looked for Thompson for over two days.

“I’m frantically calling people,” she said. “I called his girlfriend. She had got the note, too, but hadn’t heard from him. So, we’re calling what friends we had numbers for. I was preparing to drive up there and drive the streets to look for him. We didn’t know what had happened to him.”

But Thompson was not free, he was in a hospital bed — brain dead.

“On Tuesday afternoon — the 9th of August — I have a sheriff’s officer here in Kern County that comes in and tells me that my son had passed away and told me he had died of a massive heart attack,” Karen Thompson said.

Thompson described her son as a caring man who she has never seen act like the person in the surveillance footage.

“Everybody always talked about how he helped them,” she said. “He was always caring for other people.”

As the Reno Gazette-Journal reported, Sheriff Chuck Allen even took the unusual step of criticizing the deputies’ handling of the struggle before the internal investigation was complete, after he reviewed the videos obtained by the Reno Gazette-Journal through a public records request.

“I believe anyone who watches this video will understand why I was concerned about the handling of this incident and why I immediately called for an outside investigation,” he said in a written statement.

“I further, and firmly, believe that some of the actions shown do not reflect the standards of the men and women who work for the Sheriff’s Office. Nor are they in keeping with my often-expressed expectation that employees from this office will always treat the public we serve with fairness, equality and respect.”

Unlike previous in-custody restraint deaths caught on camera at the jail, Thompson was not high on methamphetamine. His stress was seemingly induced by deputies, not drugs.

As RGJ reports, Sparks police concluded an independent investigation into Thompson’s death in February and found no criminal wrongdoing by the sheriff’s office.

This is two hours of footage from the Washoe Co. Jail showing the entire struggle that led to Justin Thompson’s death. The struggle begins at timestamp 7:44. The struggle intensifies at 24:53. Deputies start life-saving efforts at 41:30.

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on Twitter, Steemit, and now on Facebook.
  • Wendy Colby

    Murderers.No surprise here.

  • David Daisy May Boldock

    All the psychos are dressed in blue.

  • Liz O’neill

    we all know how this story ends, the cops get a paid holiday then its back to work as usual, and on to the next victim, in January American cops were killing 4 people a day, at least according to their own records, I wonder how many they didn’t count.

  • Jose Pons

    The Nazi’s had nothing on these Fascist Gestapos with Badges. The Fascist judge made sure that we as citizens could not recognize these monsters. The Fascist Police State of this nation is completely out of control.

    • Zackknowitall

      I know ppl would kill random cops if this was their family members. That is if he couldn’t find out who did this.

  • Gordon Klock

    They sure seem to hate the mentally disabled…..

    • The Cat’s Vagina

      I think it’s less about hating them personally than knowing that society hates them and will let them get away with their cruelty and sadism. It’s the same reason serial killers prey on prostitutes.

  • Abz B Zbas

    As if the deputies actions weren’t disgusting enough, it is even more disturbing the way they failed to notify, then notified incorrectly, the status of the man to his family.

  • jpriest2121jr .

    Kill these punk thug cops and torture the people who let these tyrant back to terrorize the community!

  • Don Unruh

    Whew! For a minute there I thought nobody would investigate Justin’s death. Fortunately, the Sparks P.D. came to the rescue and investigated the Reno cops. Once again, we can rely on cops keeping cops honest.

  • Guy

    Though we investigated ourselves, in a thoroughly real and honest means to establish credibility within the community we are sworn to serve and protect, as bridge (giggle) builders (snicker). We have found that our deputies with the Sheriff’s office have followed all (snort) policies and (oh shit I can’t stop smiling) procedures as outline by our (wink wink, nudge,nudge) department ! Having found no (hahahahaha) wrongdoing on our part !

  • Guy

    If a man or woman in a blue uniform, a badage and gun, who has sworn an oath to uphold the laws while giving community service, and as the result of lies and coverups broken that oath ! How in the hell can they ever hold their head up proudly, while looking us in the eye expecting us to ever trust them again. Knowing they have broken their oath with us !
    In a marriage this would cause a divorce. In the military it would rate a court martial, possible imprisonment, or even firing squad ! In a Street Gang Death ! In some Countries it would be automatic death to the child for dishonor to the family, or banned from the community for life ! Even in Syria with ISIL it would mean your head would be cut off !

    But here, it’s just business as usual and no big deal, because they have been trained to have no honor of self, while they give the brotherhood there soul, working for a system that allows and encourages it to be perpetuated without remorse or guilt ! No wonder they are revered with distrust and by some hatred ! They have earned the contempt and should be shunned !

  • planesVERSUStowers

    Strangely, the cops NEVER treat their own family members this way. Only civilian “strangers” are their prey. We can’t talk about it because..

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  • Ibcamn

    the thing most people don’t know is….cops hate to deal with mentally ill people,they hate it,they hate to have to follow rules put onto them,they believe in their minds that you,we,all of us are faking it to get out,to get special treatment..well cops don’t know is,trhat almost all the mentally ill people they arrest,are in fact really bad in the mentally ill department.these people are put into a spot they can’t handle…so in turn,the cops not liking the fact they must take care of you now,will take their hatred of having to,out on you,and they will all take it out on you.
    they will do every nasty thing they can to break you,to make you stop whatever it is you are doing,to comply with what they want…it doesn’t work that way and cops aren’t smart enough to be able to figure that out…so cops do what they know best,to force that person into submission,to bend to their will…and this is what happens,they will just murder you instead of dealing with you,and they love to do this to mentally ill people,because that sthe out for the blame….they will just pin it on you,the cops will say shit that isn’t even happening to put blame on you…ive seen it a dozen times,ive seen the cops just beat a guy for looking at them,seen them beat a guy for asking for a blanket once,and ive been beaten for asking,insisting for my phone call by the cops…..and if you do need meds…good luck,you will never see them,if its pain meds,the cops keep them,usually taken by them or sold off to other inmates for cash or favors..make no mistake about it,cops are criminals,that is why they want to be cops in thje first place…listen,you hear them say,not being compliant,they use threats,they threaten the man with pain,violence,and physical violence for no reason other than their pleasure..all you have to do is listen and you can see the whole thing and understand it,these cops want him to resist,they want to inflict pain on this guy,this is just entertainement for them,it gives them something to do and to show other inmates”this is what happens when you don’t comply”,you can hear them blame him,they say”this is all on you” this guy wants them to kill him,to beat him,no,the cops want to…make no mistake,cops are the new homegrown terrorists,the greatest threats to the American people is the cops..

  • Eric Bolt

    Murder-! they knew how to play the Camera to their criminal advantage-! this goes on everywhere, others are usually the Spark plugs, behind the seens. What was not seen seems odd-!

  • Jim

    Gotta do what you gotta do. Were they supposed to just let him go? Police protect us from these violent psychopaths. We owe them our support.

    • i hope you[‘re being SARCASTIC…otherwise, you aRE an ENABLER of these LEGAL THUGS IN BLUE