State v. Weddell
Supreme Court of Nevada
27 P.3d 450 (2001)
On October 6, 1997, a Chevrolet truck drove onto the property of a business owned by Rolland Weddell (defendant). One of Weddell’s employees approached the truck, which accelerated toward and hit the employee. A passenger in the truck, James Bustamonte, threatened the employee and asked for Weddell’s daughter. The next day, Weddell heard that Bustamonte was looking for Weddell’s daughter to speak about a drug deal. Weddell gave Bustamonte’s address to the police department, but when the police did not act on the information, Weddell went to Bustamonte’s home himself. Weddell saw the same Chevrolet truck from the previous day parked in the driveway and called the police. Fifteen minutes later, when Bustamonte exited the house, the police still had not arrived. Weddell parked his car behind the Chevrolet truck to prevent Bustamonte from leaving and pointed a gun at Bustamonte, attempting to make a citizen’s arrest by demanding that Bustamonte place his hands on the hood. Instead, Bustamonte attempted to run, and Weddell shot at Bustamonte a number of times. Weddell was later charged with assault with a deadly weapon and discharging a firearm at another person. Previously, § 200.160(3) of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) codified the fleeing-felon rule under common law, which allowed a private person to use deadly force to detain a felon. However, the state legislature later repealed NRS § 200.160(3) and enacted NRS § 171.1455, which limited the use of deadly force by police officers when making a felony arrest. The district court determined that Weddell’s use of deadly force to effect Bustamonte’s arrest was permissible under Nevada law and dismissed the charges. The state appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Agosti, J.)
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