At around 2:10 a.m. Tuesday, Camilla Wakefield was delivering copies of the Idaho Statesman when a man approached her and repeatedly asked, “Who’s in charge here? Who’s in charge here?”
The man spoke quickly and didn’t sound normal, she said. His questions confused Wakefield, she said, so she kept an eye on him — a good move when he got into a pickup and started driving erratically down Brynwood Drive in Boise.
“The guy almost ran me over,” said Wakefield, an independent contractor.
It also looked like the pickup had been in a crash, she said. So she called Ada County Dispatch to report the man’s behavior.
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Boise police responded around 2:14 a.m. to what they described as reports of a drunken driver. Roughly 30 minutes later, a 16-year law enforcement veteran — five of those years spent with the Boise police — fatally shot 50-year-old Noel Rodriguez after Rodriguez reportedly attacked a Boise police officer, then repeatedly rammed several of the department’s vehicles with his own and nearly hit other officers.
Rodriguez, a Caldwell man released on parole in February after spending nearly three decades in a state prison for a 1987 murder, was pronounced dead at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, said the Ada County Coroner’s Office. He died from a gunshot wound to the chest.
Shooting caught on video
The Boise Police Department announced the early morning shooting on Twitter shortly before 5 a.m. A little more than five hours later, the department posted a news release confirming the death and providing some context:
Police responded to Brynwood near Parkwood Street, in a neighborhood just west of Chinden Boulevard’s intersection with Glenwood Street. During a traffic stop, the man — later identified as Rodriguez — reportedly assaulted an officer with a “sharp tool” and then sped away from the scene, nearly hitting another officer as he left.
Around 2:40 a.m., officers found the pickup again in the same location. An officer approached the vehicle; the driver then started using his pickup to ram BPD vehicles. One of those vehicles was occupied, according to the release.
Several officers were out of their cars and near the moving vehicle, police said.
When Rodriguez further refused to listen to BPD commands, Officer Rob Rainford fired a single shot at the driver.
Officers performed first aid and paramedics arrived to take Rodriguez to a hospital, but he died en route, according to BPD.
Rainford was wearing a body camera and that footage will be reviewed as part of the investigation, police said. Boise police just last week got their first batch of cameras for officers to wear; the initial 30 went to officers and supervisors on the night team.
The Ada County Critical Incident Task Force will handle the investigation into the shooting, with Meridian police leading the task force’s efforts this time.
After Wakefield made her call, she finished her work and went home. She said she was surprised when she woke up in the afternoon to hear reports of what happened.
She said she wasn’t sure why Rodriguez was in the neighborhood, but “being that early, I figured he was dropping someone off after they were partying,” she said.
And his behavior greatly concerned her. “I don’t want somebody like that in the neighborhood,” she said.
Neighbors in the area were similarly concerned as they waited Tuesday for details.
“I’ve loved this neighborhood,” said Raquel Scott, who’s lived there on and off for 42 years. “It’s disheartening having children and knowing something like this can happen.”
Convicted in 1987 killing
Rodriguez was 21 when he was arrested in the beating death of Rosalinda Salinas Sanchez, 29, at her home at a labor camp near Wilder.
He was convicted and sentenced to 10 years to life.
In 1992, the Idaho Court of Appeals ruled that Rodriguez was entitled to a court-appointed attorney to press his case for post-conviction relief.
Then-District Judge Jim Doolittle dismissed two applications filed by Rodriguez himself, asking for a reduction in his sentence and seeking an attorney to help him.
Rodriguez claimed that in accepting a deal to plead guilty to second-degree murder and use of a deadly weapon in the death of Salinas, he was not told he would have to serve a minimum of 10 years.
The appeals court said he should have been told of the minimum sentence he faced. In later proceedings, he was not allowed to withdraw his guilty plea, and his sentence was upheld.
The Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole approved Rodriguez’s parole petition on Dec. 18 and he was released Feb. 12.