A 37-year-old Boise man was hospitalized after he fled a traffic stop and was shot by a police officer just before midnight Monday. His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening, and he was stable Tuesday, Boise Police Deputy Chief Eugene Smith said.
The suspect fired a gun during the incident — a chase that ended in the backyard of a house on Peasley Street in the Depot Bench neighborhood — but the lone officer who pursued the man into the yard was not injured, Smith said. That officer was identified as Adam Crist, an eight-year veteran of the department.
The man’s injuries were to his thigh and hand. Police believe he shot himself in the hand. His name has not been released, but it will be if charges are filed, police said.
No one else was injured in the shooting, which happened a couple houses down from the intersection of Rose Hill and Peasley.
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A woman who lives in a house at the intersection said she heard a car accelerate, saw police lights illuminate her bedroom and heard yelling before the sound of gunfire in a neighbor’s yard. It all happened very fast, she said.
“I heard pop, pop, pop,” she said, asking that her name not be used.
A man who lives across the street from where the shooting occurred slept through the whole thing. He said he was surprised to see his neighborhood full of police cars when he awoke at 3 a.m.
“I heard nothing. My wife didn’t either,” Beach Hastings said Tuesday afternoon as he watched investigators pack up their equipment and leave.
Officer Crist was put on three-day administrative leave as part of department protocol for officer-involved shootings. Smith said Crist has not been involved in any previous shootings.
In 2011, Crist and Officers Casey Hancuff and Jason Rose were presented the Idaho Medal of Honor for their actions in tending to a woman who was shot in her home in August 2010. The woman had been shot in both legs, suffered massive bleeding and had no pulse when officers arrived. Crist and the other officers stemmed the blood loss through use of tourniquets and the woman regained consciousness.
The three officers, who took action to help the woman despite not knowing where the shooter was, were later honored at the White House by President Barack Obama.
On Tuesday afternoon, Smith, who is Boise Police’s deputy chief of operations, provided general information about the Bench shooting. Investigators with the multi-agency Ada County Critical Incident Task Force will pore over all the evidence from the scene and release many more details about what occurred, including how many bullets were fired by the two men. The task force has investigators from Boise, Garden City, Meridian, Idaho State Police and Ada County Sheriff’s Office.
On Monday night, Crist was one of four uniformed Boise police officers working an ongoing investigation into reports of suspicious activity, possibly involving drugs and weapons. Some of the officers had trainees in their vehicles, Smith said.
At 11:54 p.m., one of the officers — Smith did not know if it was Crist — pulled over a car at the intersection of Rose Hill and Peasley because its headlights were off. A passenger in the vehicle immediately jumped out and ran north on Peasley.
Officers pursued the man on foot. They recognized him as the same person who jumped out of the car and fled during a stop the night before in another part of town, Smith said.
“They did recognize that he had a gun, pretty quickly,” Smith said. “They gave commands for him to put the gun down.”
Smith said Crist followed the man into a backyard. He did not have information on how close the men were when shots were fired, or who fired first. He said he was not aware of any sort of physical struggle before the guns were fired.
“A lot of information is being gathered,” Smith said. “It’s still less than 24 hours [after the shooting].”
The officers rendered medical aid, including applying a tourniquet to the suspect’s leg, which was bleeding heavily.
The woman who was driving the car that the suspect jumped out of cooperated with police and was not charged, Smith said. He said there was also a dog in the vehicle with them.
While investigating Tuesday, police closed Peasley Street between Rose Hill and Alpine. Police documented the names of all those coming and going.
Boise police and the Office of Police Oversight are investigating Crist’s actions with regard to department policy and training. Natalie Camacho Mendoza, an attorney who has been on the job as director of the Office of Police Oversight since August, said she was notified about the shooting just after midnight but did not go to the scene.
“In the past, the previous ombudsman or an investigator may have gone out. It’s at the discretion of the director,” she said. “We investigate the actions of law enforcement. We don’t necessarily participate in their police investigation ... I am kept apprised of what’s happening.”
She said she has three investigators who work on a contract, as-needed basis to assist her.