Caldwell officer shoots man while responding to domestic disturbance

A 40-year-old man in a vehicle outside the site of a domestic disturbance was shot and injured late Sunday by a responding Caldwell police officer who believed the man was trying to run him down.

The Nampa Police Department is now leading an investigation into the shooting, which left the man involved recovering in a Boise hospital and an unspecified number of Caldwell officers on paid administrative leave while they are interviewed as part of the investigation, authorities said Monday. The man’s injuries were described as not life-threatening.

“The investigation into this incident, as I’m sure you are aware, will take a long time,” Nampa Police Chief Craig Kingsbury said during a short Monday morning press conference.

Kingsbury told reporters he either didn’t know the answer to a number of questions yet or couldn’t answer them because of the ongoing investigation. Those included the names of officers and the injured man, how many times the man was shot, any additional details of his injuries and condition at the hospital, how many rounds were fired and who called in the domestic disturbance.

Combining statements at the press conference, other interviews and an early press release from the Caldwell Police Department, here’s what is known so far:

Officers were called to a home in the 700 block of North Indiana Avenue at 11:37 p.m. Sunday, told that some sort of violence was in progress.

The first officer to arrive, upon leaving his car, “was immediately met by a vehicle coming at him at high speed” down the home’s driveway, Caldwell Police Chief Chris Allgood said at the press conference. That officer believed the man behind the wheel, a resident of the house, was trying to hit him and fired at the vehicle in reaction. It’s not yet known if the officer was able to communicate with the man before he fired.

The vehicle continued down the driveway, entered the road and hit another police car arriving at the scene. “At that point, the driver got out of the vehicle and fell to the ground,” Allgood said.

Officers on scene gave the man first aid before he was taken to a Boise hospital; authorities didn’t specify which one. Caldwell police quickly brought in the county’s Critical Incident Task Force, and investigators from the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office, Idaho State Police and the Nampa, Homedale and Wilder police departments are now examining both the shooting and the reported domestic violence that preceded it.

"Officers, when they respond to cases of in-progress family fights, those kind of things, they know that it's a dangerous situation," Allgood said, citing factors such as drugs, alcohol and even just high emotions that can accompany such incidents.

That leads law enforcement to be very cautious, he said: “In this case, it very possibly saved an officer's life."

Evidence available to the task force will include interviews with all of the police who ended up at the scene late Sunday. Allgood wouldn’t say how many of his officers that comprised, but when asked how many of them were on temporary leave, he answered, “All of them.”

At the Caldwell department, leave following such incidents typically lasts for three days, though it can be longer, said Caldwell Capt. Frank Wyant, who if confirmed by the Caldwell City Council next week will succeed Allgood as chief. Allgood was elected to the City Council and is retiring from the police force.

Investigators also will review video from cameras mounted in the dashes of police cars at the scene. Caldwell police also wear audio recorders; Kingsbury implied that audio recordings of the incident are available and will be examined.

The shooting comes nearly one month after the high-profile, fatal shooting of a rancher by Adams County sheriff’s deputies, and after many months of increased national scrutiny of officer-involved shootings.

Boise police recently shot a 37-year-old man who allegedly fled a traffic stop one night in October and fired at an officer. And, in a situation with similarities to Sunday’s, Idaho State Police last month cleared a Canyon County deputy who shot and killed a Middleton man in March while responding to a report of domestic violence.

The modern debate over police shootings and conduct hasn’t necessarily changed training for Caldwell officers, Wyant said Monday. But it has led to a “heightened awareness” by officers.

“You just never know who you’re stopping or what just happened,” he said.