Boise & Garden City

Boise man accuses six Boise police officers of brutality

Blake Cody doesn’t have a lawyer yet for the 13 cases he has pending before three separate judicial bodies.

Cody, an inmate at the state prison south of Boise, said he hopes judges assign him attorneys for each set of cases. On Aug. 17, he filed complaints in federal court against Boise police officers Tad Miller, Jason Green, Dan Muguira, Jordan McCarthy, Jim Cromwell and Joe Del Rio. Two weeks later, he opened cases against the same six officers in District Court in Ada County.

Cody, 36, is also appealing a district judge’s order from last year that enforced a prison sentence of five to 10 years.

Cody accuses the officers of using excessive force against him in a May 11, 2014, arrest for possession of methamphetamine and paraphernalia. He said they made his nose bleed and caused scrapes, swelling and bruising to his ankle, back, elbow, shoulder and face. He’s seeking a settlement of $2.4 million.

“I mean, six cops at one time? Come on, that’s outrageous,” Cody told the Idaho Statesman.

WHAT HAPPENED?

The Statesman obtained police reports from the incident that led to Cody’s arrest. Police photos appear to show a smattering of blood on the sidewalk where officers took Cody down. What’s unclear is how much of the violence Cody himself instigated.

McCarthy reported that after he told Cody not to run, Cody “began swinging his elbows wildly, striking me in the forehead.”

In his description of the incident, Del Rio wrote that Cody refused commands to lie flat on the ground with his legs straight.

“I attempted to force his legs out and to the back but every time I took my weight off his back, he would try to stand up or pull his legs into his chest,” Del Rio wrote. “I delivered multiple hammer fist strikes to the lower left side of Blake’s back and I continued to give him commands to straighten out his legs and to lay down flat. In total I delivered about four or five hammer (fist) strikes to the same spot attempting to (break) and release Blake’s core strength.”

A hammer fist strike is a swinging blow with the bottom of a closed fist. It’s unclear whether this technique is common practice for Boise police officers. The police department did not respond to an email request for comments on the incident and cases involving Cody.

Del Rio wrote that, during the struggle with Cody, he caught sight of Cody’s right hand “firmly grabbing the handle of my holstered gun.”

“I shouted out that Blake had my gun and I began moving away from his hand while Green manually assisted me by pulling on and striking Blake’s right arm until he was no longer holding it,” Del Rio wrote.

Officers Miller, McCarthy, Green and Cromwell confirmed in their own reports that Del Rio warned them that Cody had ahold of his gun or was trying to grab it.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Cody denies any wrongdoing. He said he pleaded guilty to assault or battery on a law enforcement officer and trying to take a weapon from an officer because prosecutors were threatening a much longer prison sentence than the one he received.

“I had no choice,” he said. “They used my criminal history against me.”

Cody’s record includes at least two convictions in Idaho for driving under the influence, according to state court records. He was also convicted in Colorado of writing bad checks, attempted grand theft and malicious injury to property, Idaho Department of Correction spokesman Jeff Ray said in an email.

The same day Cody pleaded guilty to the May 2014 incident, prosecutors dropped drug charges in the case, according to court records.

In his state court filings, Cody claims he has no income other than a few dollars his mother and stepfather periodically deposit in his prisoner trust account.

“I pretty much lost everything because of this case, and my family, too,” he said. “I want my life back on track.”

No hearings are scheduled in the district or federal court cases.

Over the next several months, Cody and the state are scheduled to file briefs explaining their sides in the sentencing appeals case, said Steve Kenyon, clerk of the courts for the Idaho Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. After that, Kenyon said, a justice will decide whether the Supreme Court will hear the appeal or send it to the appeals division.

The Boise Police Department would not comment directly about Cody’s allegations.

“The department tracks and thoroughly reviews every use of force for compliance with training and department policy. Officers receive regular training on use of force to ensure officer and public safety,” said spokesperson Lynn Hightower, noting that Cody has not filed any complaints in state court, only requests to allow him to proceed in forma pauperis with his case, which involves waiving costs and fees.

Hightower said the federal court is required to review all complaints filed by prisoners to determine whether or not there is a case.

“The city would not be formally served with the complaints, nor answer the complaints, until after the court issues their review order,” she said.

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