Boise & Garden City

Man killed by Boise police struggled outside prison

Noel Rodriguez, in a screen grab from his Facebook page
Noel Rodriguez, in a screen grab from his Facebook page

Noel Rodriguez dreamed of running the landscaping business where he worked, but his struggles with methamphetamine got in the way, and he was arrested in November for a parole violation.

Rodriguez, originally from Wilder, had already spent nearly three decades in prison for the 1987 beating death of 29-year-old Rosalinda Salinas Sanchez at a labor camp outside Wilder. He abused alcohol and cocaine back then, and during several hearings over the years, he told members of the Idaho Commission of Pardons and Parole that he was high the night he beat Salinas to death with an iron bar and injured one of her children.

Early Tuesday, Rodriguez acted erratically when he spoke to an Idaho Statesman contractor who was delivering newspapers in a neighborhood near Capital High School. Carrier Camilla Wakefield worried about the man’s behavior as he drove away, and she called Ada County Dispatch after 2 a.m. to report it.

Rodriguez, 50, was shot to death by a Boise police officer after Rodriguez allegedly assaulted an officer with a sharp tool and then sped away, nearly striking another officer as he left. Officers found his pickup in the same location a few minutes later. As an officer approached the pickup he was driving, Rodriguez began ramming several police cars parked nearby.

When Rodriguez, whose vehicle was still moving, refused to obey police commands, Officer Rob Rainford filed a single shot at the driver. Rodriguez died as he was being taken to a local hospital.

It’s unclear what led Rodriguez to that Boise neighborhood and why he rammed the police cars. Boise police did not release any further details on the incident Wednesday.

HARD TIME

Details about Rodriguez’s appearances before the parole commission were gleaned from a series of documents released Wednesday by the agency following a public records request by the Statesman.

When he first arrived in prison, sentenced to 10 years to life, Rodriguez could not read or write. He earned a High School Equivalency certificate, and at the time of a 1997 hearing, he was reading at an 11th-grade level. At the time of his death, he was working with the state Vocational Rehabilitation Department to improve his job skills, said Terry Kirkham, who heads the Division of Probation and Parole for the Idaho Department of Correction.

At a parole commission hearing in November, Rodriguez said he had been clean while he was in prison because it was too easy to get caught. On the outside, he said he started using methamphetamine while helping out at a homeless shelter. People grateful for the assistance he provided them gave him meth, he said, and he used it.

Commission members said they were concerned about his drug use, given that he admitted using cocaine and alcohol when he killed Salinas. They said they were afraid he might commit another violent crime.

The commission voted then to revoke Rodriguez’s parole, but agreed a month later to release him on Feb. 12. A story in Wednesday’s paper indicated that was Rodriguez’s only release. In checking state records further, Jeff Ray, spokesman for the Idaho Department of Correction, said Rodriguez was first paroled in November 2013.

He was arrested in August 2014 for a violation. He spent 14 months in prison for that violation and a subsequent one before he was released in February.

Parole commission records show he failed random drug tests both times.

STRUGGLES ON THE OUTSIDE

Rodriguez faced the same problems most people do when they leave prison, Kirkham said. It’s always a challenge for them to find and keep a job, find a place to live and maintain a stable home life. Rodriguez, who was living with a family member in Caldwell at the time of his death, told the parole commission that he had lived on the streets for some time after first leaving prison.

Rodriguez had a face-to-face meeting with his parole officer at least once a month, said Kirkham, who reviewed reports. Most parole officers generally work with about 70 to 90 clients at a time, he said.

“One of the concerns we had was his ability to keep a job and still engage in substance abuse treatment. We were struggling to get him involved in that. We were struggling to keep him involved with some mental health treatment providers to help him in that arena,” Kirkham said.

GREAT FRIEND

Nampa resident Cesar Perez said Rodriguez, who friends called “Noe,” had a big heart.

“He was always trying to help others, even if it meant that he would be out of gas somewhere getting stranded. He always put others before himself,” Perez said.

Perez said he would be surprised if toxicology reports come back showing that Rodriguez was drunk when he was shot.

“He used to drink when he was younger. But he didn’t like the feeling of it no more,” Perez said.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @IDS_Sowell

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