Watchdog

No officers convicted in Idaho fatal shootings since 2000

A Meridian police officer shot and killed Ricardo Benitez inside his Meridian home on May 13, 2007, after Benitez lunged at the officer with a knife.
A Meridian police officer shot and killed Ricardo Benitez inside his Meridian home on May 13, 2007, after Benitez lunged at the officer with a knife. Statesman file

Editor’s note: The original story published Dec. 6, 2015, said no Idaho law-enforcement officers were known to have been charged with crimes in connection with fatally shooting people in the line of duty since at least 2000. On Dec. 7, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boise told the Statesman of a case in which two Nez Perce tribal officers were charged but not convicted. This story has been revised to include that information; to add a 48th fatal shooting the newspaper learned about after the story first ran; and to add a description of a mass shooting in Moscow in 2007. Readers with knowledge of any police-involved shootings not listed in the chart below this story are invited to contact reporter Cynthia Sewell.

With concern rising about officer-involved shootings nationwide – and in Idaho, especially since an Adams County rancher died in an encounter with two deputies – the Idaho Statesman reviewed shootings so far this century. The newspaper’s tally found that the number of annual fatal shootings was zero or just one from 2000 to 2003; it has risen to about five annually over the past five years.

In 45 of the 48 shootings we found, authorities ruled that officers’ actions did not warrant prosecution. Two cases are still being investigated.

The Statesman has compiled Idaho’s first known database of officer-involved shootings. It follows in the tracks of national databases established this year by The Washington Post and The Guardian of London, though theirs cover only shootings since the start of this year.

The Idaho Attorney General’s Office, the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boise and others queried could recall only one incident in which a police officer or sheriff’s deputy in Idaho has been charged in connection with a fatal shooting.

Charges were filed in 2013 against two Nez Perce tribal police officers; neither was convicted.

In February 2013, Lewis County Prosecuting Attorney Zachary Pall filed voluntary manslaughter charges against tribal officer Robert C. Hall in connection with the Nov. 12, 2011, fatal shooting of Jeff Flinn after a car chase. A judge dismissed the case during the preliminary hearing, concluding that a reasonable person would react the same way Hall did, according to a May 2013 news report on the dismissal.

A federal grand jury indicted another tribal officer, Trevor Michael Garrett, for making false statements. According to the indictment, while the FBI was investigating the shooting, Garrett said he could not remember it. A jury acquitted him in October 2013.

Former Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney, now a consultant for the U.S. Department of Justice, said shootings by officers in the line of duty have come under increasing scrutiny since the 1980s — a trend he endorses. There are more independent shooting investigations and laws, and better investigation techniques and evidence analysis, than ever before, he said.

“It was not that long ago that law enforcement investigated its own shootings, and that is a bad way to do business,” Raney said.

With new laws come policy and training changes meant to prevent police shootings. With improved investigation techniques come better investigations into police shootings to determine whether the use of deadly force was justified.

“Laws have become more clear to say that cops cannot just shoot people because they are running away,” he said.

COMMON CIRCUMSTANCES AND TRAITS

Idaho’s officer-involved fatal shootings typically came in officers’ response to crimes ranging from kidnapping to murder, or while serving a warrant or during a traffic stop. Victims ranged in age from 16 to 62. Most were white men in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Three were women.

At least five of the people shot were reportedly suicidal, including Brian Allen Poppleton, the first of the 48 who were killed. He was killed in 2000 by Boise police gunfire after an hourlong standoff with officers at Franklin and Cole roads. Poppleton spent most of the hour sitting in a truck in the the road and pointing a gun at his head. Officers shot him after he turned his gun in their direction.

Three-fourths of the victims had guns. A Nampa police officer shot and killed Anthony Joseph Bosworth II, 30, of Star, in 2007 during an exchange of gunfire as he ran from officers into a farm field north of Nampa. Police were looking for Bosworth in connection with the disappearance of Meridian bail bondsman Joshua Schmidt, who was later found dead.

Some cases involved innocent third parties. In 2013, after a high-speed chase, Bradley Wilson took a man hostage inside a Petco store in Chubbuck and threatened to kill himself and the hostage. An officer fired one shot, killing Wilson. The hostage was not harmed.

BOISE’S TROUBLED 16 MONTHS

Police shootings in Boise came under scrutiny in the late 1990s. Eight people, including an officer, died in six police-involved shootings over a 16-month period. The victims included Boise Police Officer Mark Stall and two other men involved in a Downtown shootout in September 1997.

Former Boise Mayor Brent Coles and the City Council created an ombudsman’s office in 1997, putting the independent investigator in the mayor’s office but giving him access to all Boise police records. Around that time, all police agencies in Ada County formed a task force and decided that a member agency would conduct criminal investigations of another agency’s officer-involved shootings.

In the past 15 years, Boise has had eight police-involved fatal shootings, the same number that occurred during that troublesome 16-month period in 1996 and 1997.

Now Idaho State Police and the FBI are investigating the Nov. 1 deadly encounter in Adams County between two deputies, Brian Wood and Cody Roland, and 62-year-old rancher Jack Yantis, who died.

A dispatcher called Yantis to a crash scene involving his bull on U.S. 95 north of Council. The bull was alive but mortally wounded.

Yantis’s wife and nephew, who witnessed the incident, said he was aiming his rifle at the back of the bull’s head to kill it when one of the deputies grabbed Yantis from behind and swung him around, and then the other deputy opened fire. Nothing from the deputies’ account of the incident has been released. In its initial report, the Idaho State Police said Yantis and both deputies fired their weapons.

IDAHO IS ‘FORTUNATE’ SO FAR

While Idaho has experienced crimes of passion and targeted assassinations, it has little experience with random or mass shootings. One mass shooting took place in Moscow on May 19, 2007, when Jason Hamilton went on a shooting rampage, killing his wife, Crystal; Moscow police officer Lee Newbill; and Paul Bauer. Hamilton also injured two other officers and a University of Idaho student before killing himself.

Raney said Idaho has been lucky despite its rural character and shortage of mental health services. “Statistically a lot of shootings occur in rural areas, in part because of the culture in rural areas … and so many of the shootings are related to mental-health issues,” he said.

“We also do not have the sort of things we see in other states, where bad cops are protected and get to keep their job. …. We really do have good cops who are out there to do the right thing,” Raney said.

“We are fortunate in the events that do not happen. What the public never hears about is the all the instances when a cop could have killed someone and did not. Those happen so often.”

But to think Idaho is immune to an officer being involved in a wrongful death is misguided, he said: “At some point it is going to happen.”

AFTER 9/11, TRAINING AND EQUIPMENT

The rising focus on officer-involved shootings parallels rising concern about the threats to officers from terrorism in a post-9/11 world.

“The pendulum has swung to a very tactical level,” Raney said. The Department of Homeland Security has sponsored tactical training, and the federal government has provided surplus military equipment to local law enforcement agencies.

“The shooting scenarios where we train are, ‘There is a threat. You have to shoot fast or you are going to die,’ ” said Raney.

Raney’s formula for good policing is: Use common sense and follow best practices.

Common sense can be maintained by hiring the right people and ensuring they are well trained. Following best practices requires having policies and ensuring officers know and use them.

“I see over and over again across the nation where there was a policy in place and nobody has paid attention to it for the last five or six years,” he said. “When you have this tacit ignoring of a policy, it does not help us.”

RURAL AREAS

Small-city and rural law enforcement agencies often face challenges, including getting resources, that larger, urban agencies do not.

“They cannot dedicate someone to create a policy manual,” Raney said. “They do not have the resources to create a training program.”

The money a small department needs to send officers to several weeks of training a year could instead buy the department a much-needed vehicle — likely a used one because the agency cannot afford a new one.

Raney is completing a project with the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program, which insures local governments, and Idaho’s sheriffs and police chiefs associations to create a standardized policy manual for policing in the state.

The Statesman interviewed Raney by phone on Wednesday while he was in Chicago, where the police chief was just fired amid scrutiny over a white police officer’s shooting of a black teenager 16 times in October 2014. As he spoke, the San Bernardino shooting that killed 14 people had begun.

“As I stand here, this a great example, this is what police have to be trained to respond to,” he said. “To go in when you have an active shooter and be able to react. That is what police face every day. This heightened level of awareness, this hyper-vigilance.”

‘THERE ARE ALWAYS LESSONS’

Raney, who joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1983 and was elected sheriff in 2005, retired this year. He never had to shoot someone while in the line of duty. He said numerous times he found himself in a situation where he “would absolutely have been cleared” in using deadly force, but he did not use it.

In one case, Raney walked into a home and a man was lying on the floor aiming a rifle at Raney’s head.

“I could have shot and killed him. He knew who I was. He knew why I was there,” Raney said. In this case, the man was having a bad drug reaction. Raney said he knew that and was able to de-escalate the situation and avoid having to shoot the man. The next day he visited the man in jail.

“Good or bad there are always lessons to be learned,” he said. “I wish we would do a better job statewide of lessons learned. What can we learn about these situations to make sure it does not happen again? … There needs to be an emphasis on how to keep officers safe, how to avoid these shootings and how to de-escalate these situations.”

Cynthia Sewell has been a Statesman watchdog reporter for 10 years. 208-377-6428, @CynthiaSewell

THE 48 WHO DIED

Who died

Age

Gender

When

County

Where

Agency

What happened

Jack Yantis

62

Male

11/1/2015

Adams

U.S. 95, Council

Adams County Sheriff’s Office

Two deputies and Yantis were on the scene of a traffic crash involving one of the rancher’s bulls. Yantis had a rifle and was going to put down the bull. All three weapons discharged. Investigation pending.

Casey George Alarcon

34

Male

8/11/2015

Bonner

Sandpoint

Bonner County Sheriff’s Office

Officers were serving Alarcon with an arrest warrant when a struggle ensued. Alarcon pulled a gun and fired two shots at the officers. One deputy returned fire, shooting Alarcon once. Investigation pending.

Tyrell J. Larsen

31

Male

4/6/2015

Bonneville

Rigby

Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office

During a two-county vehicle pursuit that started with a traffic stop, Larsen crashed his truck and left it with a rifle in hand. Video and audio footage showed the deputy ordered Larsen to drop the weapon at least five times. The deputy fired six shots, striking Larsen four times.

Brandon Rapp

31

Male

3/18/2015

Canyon

9421 Charles Way, Middleton

Canyon County Sheriff’s Office

A deputy was responding to a domestic disturbance call when Rapp came out of the home with a gun. The deputy told Rapp three times to lower his weapon. Rapp did not, and the deputy shot four rounds. Rapp was struck by three bullets.

Michael Kenneth Casper

26

Male

2/16/2015

Ada

Malad Street and Gourley Street, Boise

Boise Police Department

An officer, responding to a call reporting breaking glass and gunshots, approached Casper’s house and heard more shots. Casper was inside, near a window and holding a gun. The officer shot him when he pointed his gun toward another police officer who was approaching the scene.

Darryl Kurt Myler

41

Male

1/24/2015

Madison

Rexburg

Rexburg Police Department

After an armed robbery at a drug store, officers located Myler, ordered him to stop and show his hands, and told him he was under arrest. Myler pulled a gun from his jacket pocket and fired four times at officers. The officers fired 28 times at Myler.

Daniel Young

26

Male

11/6/2014

Jerome

100 East 400 South, Jerome

Jerome County Sheriff’s Department

A suspect in a kidnapping and stabbing case, Young was armed with a gun and walking along a street with two other men when deputies approached him.

Jeanetta Marie Riley

35

Female

7/8/2014

Bonner

Bonner General Hospital, Sandpoint

Sandpoint Police Department

Riley’s husband had driven her to the hospital because she was threatening to harm herself and others. When she moved toward officers while holding a 3-inch knife, they opened fire, hitting her in the torso three times.

Thomas L. White

28

Male

6/6/2014

Kootenai

400-block E. Dragonfly Drive, Coeur d’Alene

Coeur d’Alene Police Department

Officers, called to a domestic disturbance complaint, found White in a next-door neighbor’s backyard. He was armed and ignored repeated demands to drop his weapon. White then pointed a gun at the officers and exchanged gunfire with three of them.

Jose Rodriguez-Moncada

24

Male

5/8/2014

Payette

275 N. 16th St., Payette

Payette County Sheriff’s Office

A deputy spotted a car at a Maverik gas staton that matched the description of one involved in an incident where shots had been fired near an elementary school in Ontario. Before backup could arrive, Rodriguez-Moncada pulled out a handgun from inside the vehicle and began shooting at the deputy.

Eric B. Johnston

35

Male

8/25/2013

Kootenai

1422 E. Young Ave., Coeur d’Alene

Coeur d’Alene Police Department

An officer shot Johnston, who was armed with two knives, in a confrontation after Johnston crashed his truck into a utility pole and then fled to a friend’s apartment.

James DiMaggio

40

Male

8/10/2013

Valley

Morehead Lake, Cascade

FBI

DiMaggio was killed when he fired two shots after FBI agents descended on his backcountry campsite. His kidnapping victim, Hannah Anderson, was rescued. DiMaggio had killed her brother and mother in California.

Alexander Mandarino

26

Male

6/12/2013

Shoshone

Lookout Pass Interstate 90

Idaho State Police

During a welfare check of a parked vehicle, a trooper shot Mandarino while he and a Shoshone County deputy struggled over Mandarino’s handgun.

Bradley Allen Wilson

30

Male

3/14/2013

Bannock

4335 Yellowstone Ave., Chubbuck

Bannock County Sheriff’s Office

After a high-speed chase, Wilson took a man hostage inside a Petco store and threatened to kill himself and the hostage. An officer fired one shot, killing Wilson. The hostage was not harmed.

Eric Dilworth

38

Male

12/3/2012

Ada

1983 E. Wilson Lane, Meridian

Meridian Police Department

A family member called police saying Dilworth appeared suicidal. When officers arrived, Dilworth ran out the back door with a knife. Four officers fired multiple shots at him after he refused to drop the knife and continued toward them.

Christian Nichols Buquet

19

Male

9/29/2012

Kootenai

10000 E Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive, Coeur d’Alene

Kootenai Police Department

Police shot Buquet after he shot another man and then fired a gun at officers and civilians.

Troy Epperley

37

Male

5/31/2012

Ada

6168 N. Sparkford Way, Boise

Boise Police Department

Officers responded to call about a suicidal man armed with a gun. An officer shot Epperley when he moved toward him.

Robert R. Luccari

61

Male

5/16/2012

Canyon

2nd Street South and 16th Avenue, Nampa

Nampa Police Department

Police were called to an apartment building for a noise complaint. Three officers were at the door of the apartment trying to talk to Luccari when he came out armed with a handgun pointed at police.

Dennis Allen Buzzell

51

Male

4/14/2012

Bannock

900-block 3rd St., McCammon

Bannock County Sheriff’s Office

After a several-hour standoff, Buzzell emerged from his house with a gun and began firing. He died three weeks later.

Justin Earl Nicholas Todd

33

Male

3/12/2012

Kootenai

Saint Estephe Court, Hayden

Idaho State Police, Post Falls Police Department

During an attempt to stop Todd’s vehicle during a pursuit, officers approached the vehicle on foot. Todd accelerated toward an ISP trooper, so three officers shot him.

Jeff A. Flinn

46

Male

11/12/2011

Lewis

Reuben Road and U.S. 95, Winchester

Nez Perce Tribal Police

An officer shot Flinn, who had a rifle, after he stole a truck and led police on a chase.

Charles Mefford

29

Male

8/23/2011

Canyon

700-block 19th Ave. N., Nampa

Nampa Police Department

A suspect in a robbery, Mefford ran into a nearby home. He was shot during a six-hour standoff in which Mefford fired shots.

Douglas J. Walters

50

Male

6/17/2011

Bonneville

Higbee Avenue and 17th Street, Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls Police Department

Walters fled during an ISP traffic stop. Police followed him to his home where he shot an officer point blank in the chest. The officer survived.

Christie O’Leary Little

40

Female

2/7/2011

Kootenai

Old U.S. 95 and E. Ohio Match Road, Hayden

Idaho State Police

Little was a passenger in a car driven by Mark M. Maykopet. During a chase after a traffic stop for speeding, Maykopet rammed an ISP patrol car. The trooper fired multiple shots at the car, killing Little and wounding Maykopet.

Curtis Scrivener

47

Male

11/18/2010

Idaho

East of Riggins

Idaho County Sheriff’s Office

A deputy was shot and injured during a shootout. Scrivener was killed.

Mario Armando Vasquez

30

Male

8/30/2009

Canyon

4100-block Garrity Blvd., Nampa

Caldwell Police Department

After a police chase from Caldwell to Nampa, the suspect pointed a gun at officers.

Randall Vernon Ellenwood

50

Male

5/18/2009

Nez Perce

22021 Cottonwood Creek Road, Culdesac

Idaho State Police

Ellenwood and a passenger, Daniel Ricardo Rodriguez, overpowered a trooper attempting to arrest Ellenwood during a traffic stop and began battering him. The trooper shot Ellenwood and injured Rodriguez.

Randy J. Holler Jr.

20

Male

3/17/2009

Twin Falls

447 Addison Ave. W., Twin Falls

Twin Falls Police Department

Officers saw Holler emerge from a hotel bathroom with a gun. One officer struggled with him, shooting Holler in the chest. Holler fled into the motel parking lot, and four officers shot him.

Cody Hanks

29

Male

8/16/2008

Twin Falls

2 East 3800 North, Kimberly

Idaho State Police

An ISP trooper attempted to arrest Hanks during a traffic stop. Hanks drove off, dragging the trooper, who was caught in the door. The trooper shot Hanks.

Mark Eric Betts

49

Male

7/7/2008

Bonner

119 Colburn Culver Road, Sandpoint

Bonner County Sheriff’s Office

Police chased Betts after two robberies. Betts rammed his car into a police car, got out of his car and fired at an officer.

Rudolph Andrade Jr.

19

Male

2/22/2008

Canyon

3000 Sugar Cane Dr., Nampa

Nampa Police Department

Andrade was shot three times by police outside his girlfriend’s home while holding a large piece of glass. He ignored officers’ commands to stop moving toward them. Two officers said they thought the glass was a knife; both officers shot him.

Sarah Stanfield

30

Female

10/26/2007

Payette

Fruitland

Ada County Sheriff’s Office, Payette County Sheriff’s Office

Stanfield crashed her car after a chase that began in Boise and went through three counties at speeds reaching 100 mph. She got out of her car armed with a handgun, tried to wave down passing cars to get away, and then tried to get inside a truck before turning and pointing her gun at a deputy and firing at least one round. Two deputies shot her eight times.

Donald George Hayes

48

Male

10/25/2007

Jefferson

Rigby

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office

Deputies responded to a family domestic disturbance call. Hayes aimed a handgun and rifle at them from his pickup. Officers then fired, killing Hayes.

Jimmy J. Duncan

23

Male

7/20/2007

Canyon

720 N. Illinois Ave., Caldwell

Caldwell Police Department

An officer shot Duncan, a murder suspect, after he displayed a gun. Police say Duncan shot Jose Antonio Ramirez-Salas several times earlier that night.

Logan Brizzee

19

Male

6/30/2007

Twin Falls

1569 Blue Lakes Drive, Twin Falls

Twin Falls Police Department

Brizzee was being held by private security for allegedly shoplifting groceries. When police came to arrest him, he pulled a gun, and they shot.

Ricardo Benitez

47

Male

5/13/2007

Ada

2872 N. Valley Green Way, Meridian

Meridian Police Department

Police were called after Benitez threatened his family. An officer shot Benitez after he lunged at him with a knife.

Theodore A. Hansen

31

Male

4/2/2007

Ada

Fred Meyer, 3527 S. Federal Way, Boise

Boise Police Department

Police were called to the Fred Meyer store on a report of a man trying to pass a bad check. Two officers shot Hansen inside the store after he lunged at them with a knife.

Anthony Joseph Bosworth II

30

Male

3/21/2007

Canyon

1700 Monarch Way, Nampa

Nampa Police Department

An officer shot and killed Bosworth during an exchange of gunfire as he ran from officers and into a farm field. Police were looking for Bosworth in connection with the disappearance of Meridian bail bondsman Joshua Schmidt, who was later found dead.

Tyler Lowery

40

Male

11/6/2006

Ada

Fred Meyer, 10751 W. Overland Road, Boise

Boise Police Department, Ada County Sheriff’s Office

Officers negotiated with Lowery in a parking for about 25 minutes before he pointed his handgun at them. Six officers – three from Boise and three from the Ada County Sheriff’s Office – shot him eight times.

Jonathan DiPaola

35

Male

10/11/2006

Ada

416 E. State St., Meridian

Ada County Sheriff’s Office

A deputy shot DiPaola four times as he walked toward officers with his hands moving near a handgun in his waistband. The standoff began after officers responded to a domestic violence call at the home of DiPaola’s ex-wife.

Nicholas Verl McKenna

21

Male

8/31/2006

Bannock

870 N. Buchanan Ave., Pocatello

Pocatello Police Department and Idaho Department of Correction

Officers attempting to serve a parole-violations warrant shot McKenna after he came out of a back bedroom with a handgun.

Michael Madonna

38

Male

12/28/2004

Kootenai

Coeur d’Alene

Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office

After police had handcuffed Madonna and left him alone in a garage, he ran into the house, grabbed a gun and fired two shots at an officer, hitting him once in the face. Two deputies then shot and killed Madonna.

Matthew Jones

16

Male

12/18/2004

Ada

1360 Parkhill Drive, Boise

Boise Police Department

An officer killed Jones after he approached the officer with a bayonet rifle in the teen’s driveway. The boy’s father had called police to report his son was out of control, jabbing holes in a wall with the bayonet.

Frank Saucedo Jr.

33

Male

6/18/2004

Kootenai

Rathdrum

Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office

Armed with a knife, Saucedo rushed at four officers. An officer fired beanbag rounds, but Saucedo kept running toward them. An officer shot Saucedo twice.

Robert Keith Underwood

34

Male

1/30/2004

Ada

Winco, 8200 W. Fairview Ave., Boise

Boise Police Department

Underwood brandished a handgun at an officer in a parking lot and refused repeated commands to drop his weapon. The officer fired three shots; one hit Underwood in the chest.

Ross McAbee

19

Male

11/14/2002

Ada

Broadway Avenue and Park Boulevard, Boise

Ada County Sheriff’s Office, Boise Police Department, Garden City Police Department

McAbee was killed during a shootout in a busy Downtown intersection after a 30-mile chase through two counties.

George Timothy Williams

47

Male

1/3/2001

Jerome

Eden

Jerome County Sheriff’s Office

Williams was killed in a shootout with deputies serving a search warrant. Two deputies were killed.

Brian Allen Poppleton

27

Male

6/12/2000

Ada

Franklin Road and Cole Road, Boise

Boise Police Department

Poppleton, suicidal, was killed after an hourlong standoff with police in an intersection. Officers shot him after he turned his gun from himself and pointed it at officers.

Sources: Idaho Statesman archives, Idaho newspaper archives, FatalEncounters.org, The Guardian’s The Counted project.

  Comments