Hearing officer upholds Nevada correctional officer’s firing

CARSON CITY — A senior correctional officer with the state of Nevada has had his firing upheld for neglect of duty when an inmate under his watch committed suicide.

Lance Pierce, who had worked for the Department of Corrections since 1997, was the supervising officer at Unit 4 at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City in August 2012 when inmate Christopher Merritt hanged himself.

Pierce was charged with allowing Merritt to cover the window of his cell in violation of housing rules, failing to conduct a scheduled check of inmates in the housing unit and failing to render first aid when Merritt was discovered.

Pierce also admitted to visiting websites and playing video games on the department computer in violation of policy. There was no evidence Pierce played video games on the day of the incident.

Pierce, who was fired as of Dec. 27, appealed the decision.

But Hearing Officer Jill Greiner found the evidence supported the charges, and determined the termination of Pierce was appropriate. The decision in the matter was released on Wednesday.

Merritt was known as the Interstate 80 Sniper. He was from Minnesota and in 1999 drove cross country, shooting at several cars.

One person was hit in the chest, and two others were injured. No one died in those incidents. He was arrested in Nevada and convicted in 2000 on multiple counts of attempted murder.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900.

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