By Ian Simpson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Virginia medical examiner has ruled the death of former White House press secretary James Brady a homicide resulting from the 1981 assassination attempt against President Ronald Reagan, a Washington police spokesman said on Friday.

Police are investigating Brady's death on Monday as a homicide because of the ruling, Officer Hugh Carew said.

Brady, then Reagan's press secretary, was shot in the head by John Hinckley during the assassination attempt against Reagan in 1981. He became an outspoken gun control advocate and died in Alexandria, Virginia, at 73.

Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the Washington shooting, which left Brady partially paralyzed. Reagan, a police officer and a Secret Service agent were also wounded.

A federal judge in February set terms for Hinckley's outings from the mental hospital where he has lived since the shootings. Hinckley, 59, was allowed 17 days a month to visit his mother's hometown of Williamsburg, Virginia.

Hinckley shot Reagan in an attempt to impress Oscar-winning actress Jodie Foster, with whom he was obsessed. He was diagnosed with major depression, and psychotic and narcissistic personality disorders.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Eric Beech)

[Image: Then-President Bill Clinton greets former White House Press Secretary James Brady in the Oval Office, February 2000, via Wikipedia Commons]