Officer Rob Rainford acted in the defense of fellow officers when he shot Noel Rodriguez in the chest before dawn on June 14, Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs said.
Boise police announced the finding Friday and released body-camera video of the incident taken by Boise and Garden City officers. Loebs reviewed Rainford’s actions after the conclusion of a Critical Incident Task Force investigation of the fatal shooting.
Officers responding to a report of a drunk driver encountered Rodriguez, who appeared delusional and claimed Drug Enforcement Administration officers and various gang members were after him, according to the investigators’ summary of the incident. Rodriguez armed himself with a screwdriver and a wrench and said officers would have to shoot him to get him out of his pickup truck.
Rodriguez, 50, reportedly attempted to stab a Boise officer with the screwdriver and sped off in his vehicle, nearly hitting another officer. When officers located the truck, they boxed it in with their vehicles, and Rodriguez reportedly rammed patrol cars in front of him and behind him.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
When Rodriguez refused to obey police commands and kept revving his engine in attempts to leave, Officer Rainford fired a single shot at the driver, police said. Rodriguez was pronounced dead on arrival at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.
Rodriguez, originally from Wilder, had already spent nearly three decades in prison for beating 29-year-old Rosalinda Salinas Sanchez to death at a labor camp outside Wilder in 1987. According to police and court records, he struggled with mental health issues and alcohol and drug abuse.
Friends of Rodriguez told investigators that he made statements that night and the previous day “about not going back to jail and making the police shoot him,” Boise police said in a news release Friday. Text messages to that effect were found in Rodriguez’ cell phone, investigators said.
“The facts in this case reveal that Mr. Rodriguez, through his unlawful acts, made himself a clear and immediate danger to law enforcement officers who were engaged in the lawful performance of their duties, and a serious potential danger to the public at large,” prosecutor Loebs said in the news release. “Officer Rainford's actions, therefore, were justified and not illegal.”
Kristin Rodine: 208-377-6447