NOTE: This article contains adult language and videos of police violence.
Nikki Middleton witnessed a Reno police officer “body slam” a man downtown in June and said another officer assaulted her to prevent her from videotaping the encounter.
She filed an internal affairs (IA) complaint about the incident. Today she found out there is a warrant out for her arrest.
Middleton said she was walking downtown in June after having dinner with her partner.
“The lowrider car club was downtown showing off their cars,” she said. “The cops were already pissed because they got blockaded out by 200-plus people when one of the cars did something illegal with their hydraulics and sped away.”
A man, who appeared to have been drinking, or was intoxicated, was surrounded by Reno Police officers.
“I witnessed Reno PD violently body slam a guy for apparently ‘drinking a beer,’” Middleton told This Is Reno.
She said that’s what set her off, calling the use of force “excessive” and “terrifying.”
“Upon witnessing two RPD bike officers rush a man and body slam him into the ground, I immediately took out my phone to record the situation occurring and asking, ‘Why?’” she said. “I could not believe what I just witnessed. There was no steady escalation. Maybe the guy said something I didn’t hear, but I cannot think of anything that would have warranted the rushing body slam.”
That’s when the situation escalated. Videos of the incident show a chaotic situation with a lot of people yelling. Police repeatedly yelled, “Back up!”
Middleton yelled back, “No!”
Middleton said Reno Police Officer Joshua Iori-Tone approached her to prevent her from taking video of the incident.
“You can’t be drinking out here,” Iori-Tone yelled before hitting Middleton’s phone, screaming, “get the fuck out of my face.” Middleton said she wasn’t drinking.
“You just fucking hit me,” she yelled.
“I said ‘Back up,’” he responded.
The confrontation was caught on camera from at least two different angles. The Reno Cop Watch Facebook page posted a video (watch it below) showing one officer who grabbed the person’s neck, grabbed his arm and pulled him to the ground.
The officer dropped his knee on the victim’s neck and head, a use-of-force technique that drew scrutiny when George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
It was determined Floyd was killed by Chauvin when Chauvin adjusted his body weight under his knee on Floyd’s neck which caused “neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain.”
In mixed martial arts, what Chauvin did is called a “blood choke,” used to render somebody unconscious in about 10 seconds.
Reno police and city officials did not respond to a question as to whether the June incident showed an authorized use-of-force technique.
Middleton said she called the cops on the cops knowing it “would go nowhere.” The IA complaint followed. She said she never received a response.
She also said she remained on the scene and spoke with a sergeant, which made the arrest warrant even more surprising. Middleton said it was the complaint she filed that led to the arrest warrant. The warrant, for “resisting a public officer,” was issued in August.
Middleton said she will fight the charges.
Iori-Tone in 2018 was arrested at Lake Tahoe for resisting arrest and trespassing after he was witnessed urinating on a tractor at a Keith Urban concert. He was placed on paid leave.
Iori-Tone makes more than $125,000 a year in pay and benefits, according to the Transparent Nevada website.
Reno police and city officials did not respond to a number of questions to get their version of events for this story.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor, and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011, where he completed a dissertation on social media, journalism and crisis communications. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.