Boise & Garden City

Boise police trainees said a supervisor assaulted a co-worker. Then they lost their jobs

Two Boise Police Academy trainees say that they had their evaluations changed and were given the option of resigning or being fired after they reported witnessing a supervisor put a fellow trainee into a chokehold.

The trainees — Joshua Keyser, 33, and Jeffrey Triplett, 34 — began training in January 2019. In a tort claim filed on Monday, they allege that on March 7, the academy class stopped at Nutrishop, 1265 S. Capitol Blvd., to use a machine that measures body composition. Officer Josh Kincaid asked trainee Nate Gifford for his results, and Gifford refused to comply, the claim says.

Kincaid then put Gifford in a chokehold and attempted “to take him to the ground,” the tort claim alleges.

A tort claim must be filed to preface a lawsuit against a government agency and contains allegations of wrongdoing, with the claims not yet being substantiated.

Keyser asked Triplett and their academy class president, Sierrna Berg, who also allegedly witnessed the chokehold, to report the matter to police academy instructor Nate Davis — which they all did.

The tort claim alleges that Davis “attempted to keep it at the lowest level” and avoided “contacting internal affairs about the choke hold incident.”

The claim alleges that following their report, Berg, Triplett and Keyser found that many of the training records supervisors had written about them had been retroactively modified.

These daily training records scored the trainees on their performance.

“There are things that were turned from being 1’s or 2’s — which is passable — to ‘not responding to training,’” said Joe Filicetti, the attorney for Keyser and Triplett, in a phone interview with the Statesman. “They were modified after the fact to justify getting rid of people.”

Matt Jones, a Boise Police Department captain, first brought Triplett into his office and told him that he was being investigated, the tort claim alleges. Later, Jones and acting Police Chief Ron Winegar met with Triplett and said he was “not a good fit for Boise Police Department and that reviewing his training records and performance,” they had decided to end his employment. They offered him the ability to resign rather than be fired, according to the tort claim. Triplett’s last day was Sept. 1.

Triplett says that he originally had good reviews and had only one record of being disciplined — “a minor traffic accident,” according to the tort claim. “Many false entries were made after the fact by members of the Boise Police staff,” the tort claim alleges.

After leaving BPD, Triplett applied to an agency in Auburn, Washington. During a background check, BPD reported “multiple abnormal entries” that the tort claim alleges “had to have been entered after the original passing entries.”

On Oct. 25, the tort claim states, Jones brought Keyser into his office and told him that he had “not shown consistent performance.” Keyser was also told that he could resign rather than be fired, and the complaint alleges that Keyser “had good reviews” and that his supervisors had logged only one complaint: that he improve radio coordination. He, too, alleges that his record was changed by BPD.

Berg is still employed with the Boise Police Department, Filicetti said.

Kincaid and Keyser are claiming $500,000 in damages for medical expenses, lost wages, future medical expenses, future wage loss and emotional distress.

“As I said before, as of this hour, we haven’t been made aware of this yet, but as in any case like this, we cannot comment on pending litigation,” said Boise PD spokeswoman Haley Williams.

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Kate reports on West Ada and Canyon County for the Idaho Statesman. She previously wrote for the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Providence Business News. She has been published in The Atlantic and BuzzFeed News. Kate graduated from Brown University with a degree in urban studies.