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NO CRIMINAL CHARGES IN COMMISSIONER ALTERCATION

Post Date:07/03/2019 12:18 PM

Carson City District Attorney Jason Woodbury announced today that his office will not file criminal charges relating to an altercation between Douglas County Commission Chairman Barry Penzel and Commissioner John Engels earlier this year. The incident occurred during a recess of the Commission’s May 16 meeting. According to police reports, the altercation took place in a closed side room adjacent to the conference room where the meeting was being held. Penzel and Engels were alone in the room at the time.

Woodbury was asked to review the criminal investigation by Douglas County District Attorney Mark Jackson due to the Douglas County D.A.’s conflict of interest in the matter.

Woodbury said the decision was based on a lack of evidence establishing proof of criminal conduct by either commissioner. “In this kind of case, we would only file charges if there was a reasonable probability of criminal conviction. Mr. Penzel and Mr. Engels were the only eyewitnesses to the incident. There is no dispute that there was an altercation between the two. However, there is a dispute about who initiated the physical contact. Each claims the other was the primary aggressor and initiated physical violence.”

Woodbury said his office “looked everywhere we could” for independent corroboration about what had occurred. “Sometimes non-percipient witnesses or circumstantial evidence help us get to the bottom of an incident,” he explained. “My investigator interviewed several
witnesses who were in the area, just outside the closed room where this occurred. We also reviewed video of the Commission’s meeting and the body camera footage of the responding Sheriff’s deputies.”

Despite the additional investigation, Woodbury said criminal charges are not warranted. “Based on the evidence, the accounts of both men are equally plausible. There is no reasonable probability that either would be convicted if we prosecuted this case, so my office will not be filing charges.”

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