More than a hundred police officers and members of the community gathered at the intersection of Idaho and 15th Streets on Wednesday evening to remember Mark Stall, a Boise police officer who was killed during a traffic stop at that location 20 years ago. It remains the only death of an officer in the line of duty for the department, which dates back to the late 1800s.
Boise Police Capt. Ron Winegar, at the time an officer, was injured during the shootout. He was among several speakers at Wednesday’s memorial and reminisced about his relationship with Stall.
“Mark liked to have fun. He liked to tease. He liked to dish it out and he could also take it,” Winegar said. “But coming to work as a police officer has a lot of downers. You deal with a lot of pretty rough stuff. If you can’t have fun and find some humor in other things in the job, then it’s pretty tough. Mark was great about finding humor where it was appropriate to find humor.”
On Sept. 20, 1997, officers stopped brothers Craig and Doug Brodrick for failing to signal before turning into a parking lot near Rider’s Bar after having suspicions about their Pennsylvania license plates, according to then-Police Chief Larry Paulson. The Brodricks opened fire and a shootout involving seven officers ensued.
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Stall, in the fourth patrol car called to the scene, was shot, and the 29-year-old died during surgery at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. The Brodrick brothers also died in the shootout.
Stall worked at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department before taking a job with the Ada County Sheriff’s Office. He joined the Boise Police Department three years before his death.
“I feel a lot of empathy for the officers and the job they’ve got to do and the danger they face,” Paulson said at the time. “’It’s not just something you read in a New York paper or a California paper now; you’re reading it here in Boise, Idaho. I think it’s terrible that it’s come to this.’’
Stall’s death happened at a time of unrest in Boise. Tensions between officers and citizens were on the rise as the city grew larger. From that grew a lack of respect for authority, Albertson College (College of Idaho now) associate professor of religion and philosophy Denny Clark said at the time.
“We’re moving from a small community to one with a greater sense of anonymity ... Whenever you don’t have strong personal ties to positions of authority, there is a distance,” Clark said. ‘’It’s unavoidable in a larger metro area.”
Stall’s death helped bridge the gap between the community and officers, Boise Police Chief Bill Bones said Wednesday. The city as a whole grieved for the loss.
“The loss of Mark was a defining moment. And not just for the police department, but for the community,” Bones said. “It really was the moment that the relationship between this police department and the community they served began to change.
“What we enjoy, what we see today, that relationship, is something that has grown out, and it’s the positive that I take away. And I think it’s an honor to Mark, and that’s part of the heritage and legacy that he created.”