A judge has dismissed one of three lawsuits filed against Idaho State Police alleging retaliation against two ISP employees who say they refused to take part in a cover-up.
The two employees, Fred Rice and Brandon Eller, worked on an investigation into a fatal car crash involving a Payette County sheriff’s deputy. Rice and Eller filed whistleblower lawsuits alleging they were ordered to shade the investigative report to protect the deputy and suffered retaliation when they did not go along.
Jackie Raymond, the daughter of the man killed in the crash, also sued. Raymond alleged that ISP’s manipulation of the investigation prevented a felony manslaughter case against the deputy from going to trial and made it harder for the family to prove liability in a civil case.
The crash occurred Oct. 18, 2011, when Deputy Scott Sloan was responding to a 911 call. Sloan was traveling more than 80 mph on U.S. 30 near New Plymouth when he crashed into Barry Johnson’s Jeep as Johnson was turning left into his driveway. Johnson died at the scene.
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Gem County Prosecutor Richard Linville charged Sloan with felony vehicular manslaughter. Linville later dropped the case, saying conflicting crash-investigation reports and the untrustworthy conduct of the ISP trooper who led the investigation undermined his ability to prosecute the case. ISP told the Statesman it reviewed the trooper’s actions and “there was nothing improper.”
Rice filed his lawsuit in 2014; Eller and Raymond each filed their suits in early 2015. All were filed in Fourth District Court in Boise.
Judge Cheri Copsey in October granted ISP’s request for summary judgment in Rice’s case and dismissed the case, writing that “the evidence presented establishes that there is no genuine issue of material fact.”
ISP’s attorneys argued that Rice retired and was not fired, he did not receive disciplinary action and his superiors did not order him to do anything illegal. As a result, they said Rice’s lawsuit did not meet the legal threshhold for a whistleblower case. Rice did not appeal the judge’s decision, according to his attorney.
Copsey ordered that Raymond’s case be moved from Ada County to Payette County, where the crash occurred. Her case is now pending before Third District Judge Christopher Nye.
Fourth District Judge Timothy Hansen on Dec. 18 denied ISP’s motion to dismiss Eller’s lawsuit.
Trials dates have not been set in either case.
The allegations against ISP and the agency’s response were the subject of a Statesman investigative story last May.