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Families protest police brutality, in-custody deaths at Saturday demonstration (photos)

By Eric Marks

Protestors gathered Saturday outside the Bruce R. Thompson Federal Building in downtown Reno calling on Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford to take action against various local law enforcement agencies on the above-average prisoner and police victim deaths.

The group was led by activist Annemarie Grant who claims her  brother Thomas Purdy died while in custody at the Washoe County jail after being “hog tied,” denied medical services and abused.

According to a 2020 interview she gave, “Following his arrest for alleged trespassing at the Peppermill casino five years ago, Purdy kept telling Sheriffs deputies at the Washoe County jail he couldn’t breathe as he tried to fight off restraints, with his hands tied against his back and attached with straps to his ankles. He asked a jail intake nurse to send him to the hospital, telling her: ‘I can’t breathe, ma’am.’” 

A subsequent investigation by the Sparks Police Department  determined that there was no crime committed by officers at the jail facility.

A medical examiner ruled Purdy’s death a homicide by “complications of excited delirium,” and, when contacted, the sheriff’s office had no comment on whether any deputies involved faced disciplinary action, according to Grant.

Grant told the group one nurse had not only denied medical attention to her brother, but had joked to another nurse that he was faking. Eventually REMSA arrived and resuscitated Purdy, restarting his heart, but he was declared brain dead after 10 minutes without oxygen.

Purdy is “one of three men who were asphyxiated at the Parr Boulevard facility within a one-year period,” Grant told the crowd. Other victims were named as Nico Smith and Justin Thompson.

Deputy Pual Hubble was named as a participant in the death of Thompson and Purdy both. Hubble is also documented on body cam video according to Grant “smashing a community member’s face in the butt of his AR weapon who was on the ground being handcuffed, breaking his cheek and now suffering from hearing loss.”

About 40 demonstrators gathered, many with similar stories, and many of them focused on the lack of accountability by any police agency, and biased “investigations” of police agencies on one another, also known as Independent Investigation Protocol.

Jail deaths by police in Washoe County were six times higher than the national average in 2015 according to Grant.

Grant is calling on Ford for independent investigations into the multiple deaths perpetrated by law enforcement in Washoe County, along with drug testing for the officers. There is presently no requirement for officers who are involved with citizen deaths to do so. This allows police to “kill without consequence,” she said, as the only response is the independent investigation protocol.

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