October 24, 2013 in Idaho

Idaho tribal officer acquitted of lying to FBI

Associated Press
 

LEWISTON, Idaho — A federal jury acquitted a Nez Perce Tribal police officer of lying to the FBI in a case linked to the 2011 fatal shooting of a motorist.

The Lewiston Tribune reported Wednesday that Officer Trevor M. Garrett was found innocent in U.S. District Court in Coeur d’Alene of making false statements during the investigation into Jeffrey A. Flinn’s death.

Following a low-speed chase on Nov. 12, 2011, Flinn exited his truck and stood with his hands in the air for three to five seconds before he was killed by tribal Officer Robert Wall. The Federal Bureau of Investigation contended that Garrett misled the agency during its probe of the incident.

Defense attorney James Siebe of Moscow, who represented Garrett, said his client failed to recall details, but never lied about the shooting.

“He didn’t send anybody on a wild goose chase,” Siebe said.

FBI agents interviewed Garrett on three separate occasions.

Aaron Lucoff, chief of the criminal division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boise, said agents testified that Garrett told them he didn’t remember who fired the shot that killed Flinn during the first two interviews.

In the third interview, however, Lucoff contends that Garrett gave investigators details of the shooting — and then allegedly apologized to them for lying.

Siebe said Garrett never apologized for lying, only for not remembering details of the incident.

One obstacle federal prosecutors faced: No one taped the FBI’s interviews with Garrett, so Siebe said the crux of the case amounted to their word against his.

“The whole thing is a colossal waste of taxpayer money,” Siebe said.

Lucoff said it wasn’t unusual for the FBI not to document such questioning on video.

Earlier this year, a state judge dismissed a voluntary manslaughter with a deadly weapon charge against Wall.

Prosecutors opted not to refile the case.

Wall was placed on administrative leave following the shooting, but has since returned to work with the tribal law enforcement agency.

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