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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Idaho State Police

Video shows North Idaho police shooting

Two Post Falls police officers were justified when they shot a fugitive to death in March during a chase that ended in a cul-de-sac in Hayden, authorities concluded last week.

Video from a police cruiser’s dashboard camera released Friday shows Justin Earl Nicholas Todd, 33, strike Idaho State Police Cpl. Michael Thomas Keys with a car before Keys and Post Falls police Officers Aaron Ogle and Bradley Johnson opened fire.

Todd, who died at the scene, was shot 10 times. Johnson fired 16 shots, Ogle fired one and Keys three.

Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall concluded this week that no criminal charges will be filed because the officers’ use of force was lawful.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

April 4: Video questions account of shooting

March 12: Man killed by Post Fall police identified

Video questions account of shooting

Watch me talk about the story in the video above with KHQ's Dave Cotton.

A homeowner says his surveillance video brings into question the official account of why law enforcement shot and killed a North Idaho fugitive three weeks ago, though police warn against drawing too many conclusions from the footage because it captures just a portion of the chaotic 20-minute chase and final encounter.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

March 12: Man killed by Post Fall police identified

1 officer cleared, 1 charged in shooting

(AP and staff reports) — A Nez Perce Tribal Police officer has been cleared in the fatal shooting of a Lewiston man, but one of his colleagues could be in trouble.

U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson announced Thursday that the officer who shot 46-year-old Jeffery Allen Flinn would not be prosecuted.

But another officer, Trevor Michael Garrett, had been charged with making false statements to FBI agents investigating Flinn's death.

Flinn died following a 50-mile car chase that ended in gunfire Nov. 12.

Police say earlier that day, Flinn had been released from jail following a drunken driving arrest and then got involved in a one-vehicle crash outside Lewiston. Police say he then stole a truck from another motorist and fled before officers arrived.

Tribal police say they tried to pull Flinn over, but he refused.

The indictment, returned Wednesday by a grand jury in Coeur d'Alene, alleges Garrett lied to FBI agents when he told them he didn't remember the details of what happened between the time he fired at Flinn and the time another officer secured Flinn's rifle.

The indictment alleges those statement were false “because Garrett knew that he remembered that Flinn exited a truck, and that Flinn stood facing law enforcement officers with his hands in the air for three to five seconds before he was shot and killed,” according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. “The indictment further alleges that Garrett's statements were false because he did know the name and identity of the police officer who shot Flinn.”

The incident was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Idaho State Police. 

In a prepared statement Thursday, Olson called the investigation “detailed and thorough.”  “We pursued and obtained all the information necessary to make a prosecutive decision,” she said.  

To prove a violation of the federal criminal civil rights statute prohibiting law enforcement officer misconduct, prosecutors must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer intentionally used more force than he or she could reasonably have thought necessary under the circumstances, according to a news release. 

“That issue was the focus of the investigation,” said Olson.

A decision not to prosecute may be made for a variety of reasons, Olson said, including insufficiency of evidence to prove the police officer intentionally used more force than was necessary.  

“The statute sets out a tough standard in cases involving allegations of unreasonable force by a police officer,” she said.  “It requires that we be cautious, thorough and deliberative, and that's what we've been in this case.  We determined that under the circumstances, including the weather conditions, lighting and officer's knowledge and state of mind leading up to the shooting, we could not prove all of the elements of this offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  In such situations, we are obligated to decline prosecution.  We do so here.”

Shot fugitive had wig, weapons, paint

A fugitive shot to death by police in North Idaho had material for changing his identity in his vehicle, as well as weapons, drug paraphernalia and an active police scanner.

 The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department announced the discovery Wednesday as part of its ongoing investigation into the death of Justin Earl Nicholas Todd, 33.

Todd died early Monday after he was shot by multiple Post Falls police officers following a 20-minute chase that ended in a residential area in west Hayden, Idaho.

Todd was shot after he struck an Idaho State Police trooper with his car and knocked him to the ground. The trooper suffered minor injuries.

Todd, a longtime felon, was wanted on a warrant for eluding police when his car triggered an alert system on Interstate 90 that detects stolen vehicles and fugitives.

Investigators said Wednesday that Todd's car had recently been painted from blue to white. They found six cans of black spray paint in the car that indicated Todd may have planned to paint it again. They also found a brass knuckles/stun gun combination weapons, a knife, three cell phones along with the paraphernalia and scanner.

Investigators interviewed all officers involved in the incident Wednesday. The Kootenai County Prosecutor's Office will decide on charges once a report is submitted.

Fugitive shot, killed by Post Falls police

A North Idaho man with an extensive criminal history was shot and killed by a Post Falls police officer early Monday after striking a state trooper with his car, police say.

Justin Earl Nicholas Todd, 33, died at Kootenai Medical Center after a nearly 20-minue police chase ended with shots fired in a residential area near St. Estephe Court and Bordeaux Drive, just west of Ramsey Road and south of Honeysuckle Drive in Hayden.

Read the rest of my story here.

ISP gun found in Del Taco drive thru

(AP) — The Idaho State Police is investigating after an off-duty officer's loaded service weapon was found in the parking lot of a North Idaho taco restaurant.

Officials say the officer took off his holster to change his license plates, placed the .45-caliber gun on the top of his truck and drove off without retrieving the weapon. It eventually fell off in the parking lot of Del Taco in Post Falls.

Customer Greg Wiltse spotted the gun as he was pulling into the drive-thru at about 9 p.m. Tuesday. He says he put the holstered gun on the floorboard of his truck and called police.

ISP Capt. Curtis Karstens says the case is being treated as a personnel matter and declined further comment. He says it's possible the employee could face disciplinary action.

New details on chase that led to suicide

A North Idaho man who killed himself during a police chase was allegedly trying to persuade his wife to drop charges against him.

Daniel Joe Zehm, 52, contacted his wife Sondra Zehm on Saturday at their Dalton Gardens home, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.

Police were alerted at 10:15 p.m. that Zehm had called a relative and reported that he was taking his wife to Kellogg, Idaho.

Zehm sprayed his wife with pepper spray and forced her into his vehicle., officials say. He had been driving with her since about 9 p.m, telling Sondra to drop the charges against him, officials say.

Zehm saw the deputies trying to stop him on Fernan Lake Road about 11:15 p.m. He fled toward Coeur d’Alene, running over a spike strip as he reached Fernan Village. He attempted to continue but came to a stop on Sherman Avenue, where he shot himself, police say.

Zehm was arrested in November after pouring gasoline on his wife and trying to light her on fire. He had been released from jail on $200,000 bond for felony charges of burglary and aggravated battery and was prohibited from contacting his wife.

Cop arraigned in road rage gun case

A Portland police captain accused of brandishing a gun during a road rage incident on Interstate 90 in Post Falls acted arrogantly to state troopers as if he thought “I'm a cop and it's no big deal,” according to a police report recently unsealed in Kootenai County.

Todd Loren Wyatt, 43, pleaded not guilty Friday through his attorney in Kootenai County District Court to exhibition of a deadly weapon, a misdemeanor, for the alleged incident on Aug. 13. Trial is scheduled for Feb. 6.

A 20-year police veteran, Wyatt was off duty when he was stopped on I-90 at the Freya Street exit in Spokane by Washington State Patrol troopers after his alleged victim called from the Post Falls area stayed on the phone with dispatchers describing Wyatt's blue Ford F-150.

WSP Trooper Greg Birkeland said Wyatt asked to speak to him away from his wife and children, and Birkeland asked “what difference it would make talking in front of them compared to his prior actions in front of them,” according to the report.

“Mr. Wyatt's response to him was, 'All right, I hear your attitude,'” according to the report. “Trooper Birkeland said he thought Mr. Wyatt showed lack of common sense and good judgment. He was arrogant and cocky and played the situation down, not realizing the severity of what he had done.”

Another trooper told investigators he thought Watt's attitude was that of “I'm a cop and it's no big deal,” according to the report.

Wyatt's lawyer, Gary Amendola, said Wyatt disputes the charge..

“I'll tell you right now, Capt. Wyatt did not point his gun at anyone,” Amendola said. Amendola said Wyatt was “concerned for the safety of his family” because the alleged victim appeared to be trying to cause a crash.

Wyatt, who was with his wife, 16-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son, when he was stopped in August told troopers there was a road rage incident “and he did in fact display his weapon in a holster along with his service badge,” according to an Idaho State Police report. “It was reported the gun was never pointed at the reporting party.”

Wyatt's wife told troopers she thought “those people were going to kill us.”

Wyatt was not arrested. He was removed from his position as head of the Portland Police Bureau traffic division when the investigation opened and was placed on paid administrative leave after he was formally charged last month, The Oregonian reports.

The alleged victim, Nicholas James Cox, 28, told police he was driving westbound on Interstate 90 behind Wyatt's Oregon-plated pickup when he passed the pickup because it was driving slowly.

Cox said the pickup started tailgating and trying to pull up beside him before the driver pointed a gun at Cox and his wife.

“Mr. Cox said he did not wish to pursue charges but wanted the driver to be aware of the seriousness of the offense,” according to the report. But Cox later changed his mind. He told police he'd spoken with his father-in-law, who is retired from the Seattle Police Department, and realized the severity of the incident.

“Mr. Cox told me he could not drive past where the incident happened without getting a sick feeling in his stomach,” according to the report, prepared by Idaho State Police Trooper Kevin White. “He also said when he sees a pickup that looks like the one the suspect was driving, he gets nervous until he sees the state of the plate.”

“Mr. Cox said when he first saw the pickup tailgating, he thought it was just some crazy guy,”  the report continues. “When he saw the pistol, he knew it was more than some crazy guy.”

Wyatt was on vacation from the Portland Police Bureau when the incident occurred.

Wyatt told police Cox was driving his Honda dangerously and appeared to be trying to cause a crash after passing him.

Wyatt said the driver and passenger “were young and possibly gang members” and he showed them his police badge in hopes they would leave him alone. When they didn't, he held up his holstered gun behind his badge, according to a report.

“He indicated once the problem was solved and the Honda quit trying to cause a crash, he put his badge and gun away,” according to the report.

Tasered man, 56, died of heart attack

A man who died after being shocked with a Taser by a sheriff’s deputy in North Idaho in May suffered a heart attack, officials said Friday.

Daniel L. Mittelstadt, 56, of Mount Shasta, Calif., had a pre-existing heart condition and a long history of mental health issues when Boundary County sheriff’s Cpl. Clint Randall responded to a report of a naked man blocking a road with his car about 1 a.m. on May 16.

Read the rest of my story here.

Ellington road-rage trial set for Aug. 29

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) — A North Idaho man whose conviction of second-degree murder was overturned will stand trial again on the charge this month.

The Coeur d’Alene Press reports that 50-year-old Jonathan W. Ellington’s three-week jury trial is expected to start Aug. 29 in front of 1st District Judge John Luster.

Ellington, of Hayden, was convicted in August 2006 after prosecutors said he was involved in a road-rage incident that turned deadly when 41-year-old Vonette Lee Larsen was run over.

But earlier this year, a unanimous Idaho Supreme Court threw out his convictions and granted him a new trial. The high court cited prosecutorial misconduct and the likelihood that an Idaho State Police officer committed perjury in its ruling.

Past coverage:

June 23: Ellington briefly leaves jail while awaiting new trial

Dec. 5, 2006: Ellington sentenced to 25 years in prison

Sept. 8, 2006: Ellington found guilty

Aug. 25, 2006: Daughter describes mother's death

Man, 30, dies in CdA police custody

A 30-year-old man who lost consciousness while in Coeur d’Alene police custody died early Thursday at Kootenai Medical Center.

Nicholas Andrew Clason was pronounced dead at the hospital , where he was admitted late Sunday for a possible drug overdose.

Police first contacted him about 10:40 p.m. Sunday at the Fourth Street on-ramp of westbound Interstate 90 after officers received reports of a suicidal man. Police reports say Clason was diabetic.

Read the rest of my story here.

Fatal Idaho police shooting ruled justified

An Idaho State Police trooper who shot a fugitive to death during a pursuit north of Coeur d’Alene in February will not face charges.

Trooper Dan Howard was justified when he used deadly force to stop a Jeep that was approaching him after he exited his police car following a collision, the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office said Thursday.

Howard fired several shots, six of which hit the Jeep. Investigators believe he was aiming at the driver of the Jeep, Mark M. Maykopet, a fugitive from Butte, but one of the shots hit Maykopet’s wife, 40-year-old Christie Ann Little, alias O’Leary, who also was a fugitive.

Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Shawna Dunn said Little’s seat was slightly reclined, which led to her being shot even though bullet holes on the Jeep showed Howard was aiming at Maykopet in the driver’s seat.

“Her seat was basically in the line of fire between the trooper and the driver,” Dunn said.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

March 19: Idaho trooper interviewed about fatal shooting

Feb. 24: Couple shot by ISP trooper were married

Feb. 18: ISP corporal fired fatal shots

Feb 9: Fugitive shot dead by Idaho State Police trooper

Idaho road rage suspect freed for 6 days

A man who was released from prison last week after his second-degree murder conviction was overturned turned himself in Wednesday to the Kootenai County Jail to await a new trial.

Jonathan Wade Ellington, 50, was sentenced to 25 years in prison and 15 years each on two counts of aggravated battery charges for running over a woman in what prosecutors called a road-rage incident Jan. 1, 2006.

The state Supreme Court ruled unanimously May 27 that Ellington, of Hayden, should get a new trial. Ellington's attorney, Anne Taylor, said she will seek a reduction of her client's $1 million bond

. Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh, however, said he will request that the bond remain where it was set.

A status hearing has been scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Monday in 1st District Judge John Luster's courtroom.

Read the rest of Alison Boggs' story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 8, 2006: Ellington found guilty

Aug. 25, 2006: Daughter describes mother's death

Pot supplier in Carlson case sentenced

A marijuana supplier connected to the man who helped arrest former school booster and Coeur d'Alene insurance giant Jerry Carlson was sentenced this week to four years in prison.

 Jesus N. Ortega, 57, of Tucson, Ariz., admitted to supplying former Bayview, Idaho, contractor Theodore Bruck with at least 400 kilograms (but not more than 700 kilograms) between 2002 and 2004.

 Idaho State Police began investigating Bruck after a drug runner was arrested with 100 pounds of marijuana in Arizona in 2005.

Bruck told investigators about Ortega after he was arrested while delivering 46 pounds of marijuana to an undercover officer. He said he met Oretga while in prison on a previous drug conviction.

Also pleading guilty in the case were Otto Cantrell, Cosme Flores and Oretga's girlfriend, Bonnie Duarte. Codefendnats Steve Chilcott and David Lamont also are serving time for the case.

Bruck helped investigators arrest Carlson in February 2008 by twice selling him a kilogram of cocaine. He was sentenced to seven years in federal prison shortly after Carlson's arrest.

Carlson, a former Coeur d'Alene High School booster of the year, is serving a 27-month federal prison sentence. Investigators used Carlson's phone records to help arrest James “Slim” O'Neill of Coeur d'Alene, a longtime cocaine dealer now serving 15 years in federal prison.

In addition to 48 months in prison, Oretga is to perform 100 hours of community service and pay $25,000 in restitution.

Oretga, a father or four grown children, was given an exceptionally low sentence because of his “substantial assistance to the government,” according to the court documents prepared by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Trooper on leave amid perjury allegation

A veteran state trooper accused of perjury in an Idaho Supreme Court decision that vacated a murder conviction has been placed on paid leave.

Cpl. Fred Rice is accused of  lying on the stand during the road rage trial of Jonathan Wade Ellington of Athol, who was convicted of second-degree murder for running over a woman on New Years Day 2006. Ellington is serving a 25-year prison sentence.

Read the full statement from Idaho State Police at the Eye on Boise blog.

Murder conviction tossed in ‘06 road rage

BOISE – State Supreme Court justices have thrown out the second-degree murder conviction of a North Idaho man, citing prosecutorial misconduct and the likelihood that an Idaho State Police officer committed perjury during the 2006 trial.

Jonathan Wade Ellington, of Hayden, was sentenced to 25 years for second-degree murder and 15 years each on two counts of aggravated battery charges for running over a woman during what was described as a road-rage encounter on New Year’s Day 2006.

But Friday, Idaho’s high court unanimously ruled Ellington should get a new trial. In the 32-page ruling, the justices wrote the Kootenai County prosecutor engaged in misconduct during the trial, in part by engaging in improper questioning meant to turn the jury against Ellington.

Read the rest of the Associated Press story here.

When Ellington was sentenced in December 2006, his girlfriend, Ann Thomas, vowed to appeal. “Eventually, it’ll get to a real court,” Thomas said.  Ellington called the case against him “mind-boggling.” “I don’t understand this – I never will,” he said. Read that story here.

Other past coverage:

Sept. 8, 2006: Ellington found guilty

Aug. 25, 2006: Daughter describes mother's death

Cops: Missing woman may have drowned

Investigators believe a Kamiah, Idaho, woman missing since April 1 may have drowned in the Clearwater River.

They're not sure if Lavina Hietala's disappearance was the result of foul play and are asking for information on the activities of her grandson, Justin M. Hietala, from March 28 to April 1.

The man has not been named a suspect. He remains in the Lewis County Jail on burglary charges.  

Detectives say Justin Hietala, 27, did not provide “any information concerning his grandmother's whereabouts.

Detectives developed information indicating the 72-year-old woman likely ended up in the river, but police declined to elaborate.

“Due to the potential of her being in the Clearwater River, search efforts have been scaled down,” accoridng to a news release from the Idaho State Police. “Because of the low water temperature and high water flows it is unlikely Lavina could survive being in the river since April 1. ”

Anyone with information on Justin Hietala's activities is asked to call ISP Lt. Charlie Spencer at (208) 799-5020.

Missing woman’s jailed grandson probed

The grandson of a woman missing in the Kamiah, Idaho, area has been named a person of interest in her disappearance.

Justin M. Hietala, 27, was arrested on suspicion of burglary on April 1 and is in the Lewis County Jail in Nez Perce, Idaho.

Police learned his grandmother, Lavina I. Hietala, 72, was missing then.

The two lived at her home in Kamiah.

Anyone who may have seen Justin M. Hietala, 27, in or around Kamiah, east of Lewiston, between March 28 and April 1 is asked to contact Idaho State Police Lt. Charlie Spencer at (208) 799-5020 or by email at charlie.spencer@isp.idaho.gov.

“We're just trying to follow up on a bunch of leads,” Spencer said today.

Idaho sgt. in fatal shooting interviewed

An Idaho State Patrol officer recently was interviewed about an officer-involved shooting that took place a month before.

ISP Cpl. Dan Howard shot and killed Christie O’Leary Little on Feb. 7, but for weeks declined to be interviewed by investigators.

Recently, however, Howard “agreed to (the interview) and contacted us,” Lt. Lee Richardson of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department said Friday.

The interview on March 8 lasted “a couple of hours,” he said.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Brad Maskell is investigating the shooting, during which Little’s husband, Mark Marion Maykopet, was wounded.

Read the rest of Alison Boggs' story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 24: Couple shot by ISP trooper were married

Feb. 18: ISP corporal fired fatal shots

Feb 9: Fugitive shot dead by Idaho State Police trooper

Suspect says ISP fired at fleeing vehicle

A fugitive shot by an Idaho State Police corporal claims he was driving away from the man when shots were fired. 

“Why did you shoot us in the heads while we were driving away from you. (sic) That’s not protocol,” Mark Marion Maykopet, 24, wrote of Cpl Dan Howard in a letter sent to The Spokesman-Review from the Kootenai County Jail. Maykopet also claims he was unarmed, but investigators say they found two firearms in his vehicle.

Maykopet was married to Christie O’Leary Little, 40, who was killed when Howard fired on the Jeep Cherokee following a high-speed chase initiated after Howard pulled the car over for speeding.

Howard has refused to talk with investigators from the Kootenai County Sheriff's Department.

A Kootenai County marriage license shows Little was divorced and refers to her as Christie Ann O’Leary of Butte.

“I love her more than you can imagine,” Maykopet wrote. He said he met her in April when she was released from prison in Butte. “We fell in love. No one wanted to see us happy but we didn’t care.”

Read Alison Boggs' story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 18: ISP corporal fired fatal shots

Feb 9: Fugitive shot dead by Idaho State Police trooper

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