Latest from The Spokesman-Review
A discrimination case against the Idaho State Police for targeting a driver for a marijuana search because his license plates were from a state that has legalized the drug has been dismissed at the request of both sides, after it ran into numerous legal hurdles. That means the court won’t weigh in on license-plate profiling in this case. But a legal expert says Darien Roseen’s lawsuit, the release of the state trooper’s dash-cam video under the Idaho Public Records Law, and the subsequent national attention it drew helped shine a light on the practice that may cause law enforcement agencies to take more care, and stick to “more traditional probable cause or observed infraction findings.”
David Leroy, former Idaho attorney general and now a Boise defense attorney, said, “The lawsuit may have served its purpose without going to conclusion.”
Roseen, then a 69-year-old retired Weyerhaeuser executive who was driving from his daughter’s baby shower in Washington to his second home in Colorado, was followed by an ISP trooper within a mile after he crossed the Idaho border on I-84 from Oregon on a snowy day in January of 2013; he had Colorado license plates. When Roseen pulled into the “Welcome to Idaho” rest area, Trooper Justin Klitch followed him and insisted he must have marijuana in his vehicle. Roseen was detained and his vehicle searched for hours before he was allowed to go; nothing illegal was found.
You can read my full story here at spokesman.com, and also find links to a clip from the video. Unlike Idaho, Washington, Colorado and Oregon all have legalized marijuana. Plus, numerous states surrounding Idaho permit the use of medical marijuana, which Idaho strictly forbids.
After the lawsuit was filed, a Spokane man told the Spokesman-Review he endured a similar detention at the same rest stop when he was driving with Washington license plates, with an ISP trooper demanding to search his car for marijuana. He refused, and eventually was allowed to leave. Roseen’s Boise lawyer, Eric Swartz, said he received numerous calls and emails from others with similar stories. But he was unavailable for comment Wednesday, after his client and the state both agreed to drop the case, with each side bearing its own costs and attorney fees.
The state hired a private law firm to handle the case and had paid it more than $50,000 as of May 15, according to records obtained under the Idaho Public Records Law. If Roseen continued his case but lost, he could have been ordered to pay the state's legal fees and costs as well as his own.
“It does point out that both civil and criminal litigation against the state or other police departments is typically conducted at considerable expense to the private parties who are bringing or defending that litigation,” Leroy said. “And the price of justice or defending oneself from injustice can be so high that sometimes the best interests of society are not vigorously prosecuted.”
The Idaho State Police is facing three whistleblower complaints from state police officers who say they were retaliated against after they refused to help cover up a Payette County sheriff’s deputy’s illegal conduct in a fatal car crash in 2011, a cover-up that another lawsuit alleges led to criminal charges against the deputy being dismissed. Idaho Statesman reporter Cynthia Sewell detailed the case and related lawsuits in an article published in Sunday’s Idaho Statesman; it’s online here. In the crash, the deputy was driving 115 mph on a two-lane, 55-mph highway when he struck and killed the driver of a Jeep who was turning left and going 24 mph.
Among the article’s revelations: After two troopers testified accurately about their investigation of the fatal crash in court, the top brass at ISP called an ISP sergeant who was involved in the investigation – and who now has resigned and filed a whistleblower lawsuit – into a meeting at ISP headquarters in Meridian. There, one top officer said he couldn’t believe ISP was going to send a deputy to prison, and another officer said of the two troopers who testified, “If these two boys have a job, they will be lucky to work nights and weekends.” Both are now working night and weekend patrol shifts after reassignments.
The article also reports that the chief investigator in the crash, Trooper Justin Klitch, gave inaccurate and conflicting testimony in court, secretly recorded a meeting with the prosecuting attorney while cooperating with the defense attorney, and prompted the prosecutor to dismiss the charges against the deputy due to problems with the investigation. Klitch is currently the target of three other lawsuits, all alleging illegal search or seizure; they include the 2014 lawsuit filed by Darien Roseen, who charged that Klitch pulled him over on I-84 because he had Colorado license plates and that state had recently legalized marijuana, claimed he could smell marijuana, and held and searched Roseen and his vehicle for hours, finding nothing.
The daughter of the Jeep’s deceased driver also has filed a lawsuit against ISP and its director, Col. Ralph Powell, charging that ISP engaged in a “cover-up” and “evidence tampering” that prevented the criminal charges against the deputy from going to trial, making it more difficult for the family to prove its case in a civil wrongful-death lawsuit.
Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: JEROME, Idaho (AP) — A south-central Idaho judge has dropped all charges against three Georgia residents accused of kidnapping a young woman and stealing credit cards after ruling police conducted an illegal vehicle search. The Times-News (http://bit.ly/1qEt771 ) reports that police had arrested 22-year-old Derricka McCloud, 21-year-old Demeiris Fields and 25-year-old Bradley Roberts on Oct. 24 in Jerome after they received a report that an 18-year-old woman was being held against her will by armed individuals. Stoker ruled Wednesday that Idaho State Police troopers searched the defendants' vehicle on Oct. 27 without a warrant, declaring all evidence obtained "clearly suppressible." Troopers conducted an initial inventory search a few days prior, but they decided to search a few days later after receiving a tip from a Boise detective.
You can read the Times-News’ full report here.
Idaho law enforcement agencies have received at least 2,905 pieces of donated military equipment worth more than $9.3 million, mostly during the past three years, the Idaho Statesman reports today, according to data from the Idaho State Police. They range from $1 pliers to MRAPs - mine-resistant ambush protected armored vehicles - worth anywhere from $412,000 to $733,000. Last September, the Idaho State Police requested a cargo plane. The MRAPs went to six police departments: Boise, Caldwell, Nampa, Pocatello, Post Falls and Preston.
The Statesman’s full report is online here. Reporters John Sowell and Audrey Dutton report that the military trappings are in high demand among Idaho agencies, and at least one local police department has received more military firearms than it has officers on its force.
Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A woman who got a speeding ticket while on a recent vacation to Idaho wrote a note to the Idaho State Police thanking the trooper for the kindness he showed her grandchildren during the stop. KBOI-TV reports (http://bit.ly/1xARlC8) the Idaho State Police shared the note on Wednesday. The woman wrote that Officer Mike Nielsen made the stop a good experience for her grandchildren by talking with them calmly and giving them stickers. She says she wasn't left out and got her "very own sticker shock." The letter did not say how much she was fined.
A motorist with Colorado license plates who contends the Idaho State Police profiled him because of his plates and fruitlessly detained and searched his car for marijuana can proceed with his federal lawsuit. Lawyers for Darien Roseen amended the lawsuit complaint after the state of Idaho contended the ISP was protected by the state’s sovereign immunity and couldn’t be sued. All sides have now agreed to proceed under the amended complaint, which drops the ISP as a target but includes ISP Trooper Justin Klitch, along with Payette County, the city of Fruitland, and several of their officers who participated in the traffic stop.
Roseen, 69, was pulled over just as he crossed into Idaho on I-84 in January of 2013, and pressed by Klitch to allow a search of his vehicle for drugs, which he refused. He then was detained and his vehicle searched for hours before he was allowed to go; nothing illegal was found.
His lawsuit charges numerous violations of his constitutional rights, along with discriminatory and selective treatment by profiling. He had Colorado plates and a Washington driver’s license; both states have legalized marijuana, while Idaho has not. A trial in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Boise likely will be set for early 2015, according to court documents.
A 19-year veteran of the Idaho State Police has been suspended without pay after investigators allege he stockpiled more than 15,000 rounds of stolen service ammunition in a pole barn near his Athol home, amid other charges. Daniel Howard, 48, has been on leave from the ISP since December, when Kootenai County investigators told the ISP they were building a case of theft, fraud and forgery; Howard has been charged in both Kootenai and Bonner counties. You can read the full story here from S-R reporter Kip Hill.
The Idaho State Police can’t be sued for detaining and fruitlessly searching a motorist with Colorado plates for marijuana in a case of alleged “license-plate profiling,” the state of Idaho argues, because it’s protected by the state’s sovereign immunity. In the state’s initial response to a lawsuit filed by 69-year-old Darien Roseen, Idaho is asking that the ISP and Trooper Justin Klitch be dismissed as defendants in the lawsuit, at least as far as Klitch is accused of acting in his official capacity as a state trooper.
The 11th Amendment grants states sovereign immunity from being sued for money damages. “It’s a very strange area of law with lots of bizarre rules,” said University of Idaho law professor and associate dean Rich Seamon. “It’s really a restriction on lawsuits that try to tap into the state treasury. It extends to not only the state of Idaho, but to state entities like the ISP.” Nevertheless, lawsuits that charge constitutional violations by police and agencies generally do go forward, Seamon said. “Even with all these immunity laws or rules, the courts for the most part want to be able to identify and remedy constitutional violations. … Those lawsuits ordinarily do get decided.”
Roseen was pulled over just as he crossed into Idaho on I-84 in January of 2013, and pressed by Klitch to allow a search of his vehicle for drugs, which he refused. Roseen was detained and his vehicle searched for hours before he was allowed to go; nothing illegal was found. His lawsuit charges numerous violations of his constitutional rights, along with discriminatory and selective treatment by profiling. He had Colorado plates and a Washington driver’s license; both states have legalized marijuana, while Idaho has not. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
In the past year, the Idaho State Police has seized more than 720 pounds of marijuana during traffic stops, more than 58 pounds of meth, and more than 30 pounds of cocaine. That’s for the calendar year 2013, and it’s only counting major seizures – those that were above reporting thresholds, which are 1 pound for marijuana, 2 ounces for meth or cocaine, and 1 ounce for heroin.
California was the most common state of origin for the seized drugs, accounting for 23 of the 80 seizures in 2013. Oregon was second at 17, Idaho third at 11, and Washington fourth at 10.
“This is just our numbers from our highway interdiction and our highway enforcement,” said Teresa Baker, ISP spokeswoman. “This isn’t the drugs that we seized from our investigations.”
In 2012, ISP reported 78 seizures on the highways, including 645 pounds of marijuana, 5.57 pounds of heroin, and 2 pounds of methamphetamine. “There are a lot of drugs coming into the state from other states,” Baker said. “There’s a lot of interstate drug trafficking.”
A Spokane man says he was pulled over by the Idaho State Police on I-84 just inside the Idaho state line last summer, and accused of having marijuana solely because he had Washington license plates and had his car windows open. “At that point, my jaw just dropped,” said Paul Dungan, 58. “I said ‘No.’ I told him, ‘This is the way I cruise in the summer time … so I don’t fall asleep.’ … He said, ‘I want to search your car,’ and I said, ‘No, you have no right to search my car.’”
Dungan said after nearly an hour of “haranguing me … he finally backed off.” Dungan wasn’t cited for anything; he hadn’t been accused of any traffic offenses. “I was definitely profiled,” he said. “I’m a 58-year-old white guy, and I haven’t ever been profiled, even when I was a young teenager in southern California raising hell-type stuff. What a horrible feeling.”
The Idaho State Police could find no record of Dungan’s stop. “I’m not saying that he’s lying at all – we just can’t find it,” said Teresa Baker, ISP spokeswoman. She said the agency conducts numerous traffic stops that in the past year have yielded big drug seizures – 720 pounds of marijuana, 59 pounds of methamphetamine and 30 pounds of cocaine, just in 2013. “There are a lot of drugs coming into the state from other states, whether it’s Oregon, Washington, Nevada, up through Utah, Montana,” she said. “We are constantly patrolling the highways looking for criminal activity. … If someone breaks a traffic law, no matter how minor someone might think the traffic law is, they can be stopped.”
Dungan’s story follows the release this week of ISP’s video of a traffic stop in January of 2013 in which a Colorado man charges he was targeted because of his Colorado license plates, detained at the same rest area, and his vehicle taken to a nearby jail and searched before he was let go after nothing illegal was found. Both Washington and Colorado have legalized marijuana; Idaho hasn’t. In addition, Idaho is nearly surrounded by states that permit the use of medical marijuana, which Idaho strictly forbids. Darien Roseen of Pagosa Springs, Colo. has filed a federal lawsuit against the Idaho State Police over his stop, saying his constitutional rights were violated and he was profiled on the basis of his license plate.
“I’m sure we’re not the only two guys that are in the states now that have legalized marijuana that those guys are harassing down there,” Dungan said. “I find it really annoying. I’ll never drive through that area again. If I’m going down to the Boise area, I’m going down through McCall and Banks and take the scenic route and through.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Video of an Idaho State Police traffic stop obtained by The Spokesman-Review under the Idaho Public Records Law shows an ISP trooper pulling behind a pickup truck with Colorado plates as soon as he sees it, following it into the “Welcome to Idaho” rest stop, then badgering the 69-year-old driver to allow a search for drugs. The hard-rock radio station that the trooper was listening to provides a soundtrack, interspersed with commercials; when the trooper first sees Darien Roseen’s truck, the radio is blaring the Scorpions’ “No One Like You.”
“Why’d you pull in here so rapidly?” trooper Justin Klitch asks Roseen in the January 25, 2013 dash-cam video. “Uh, I had to go to the bathroom,” Roseen responds. “You didn’t have to go to the bathroom before you saw me,” the officer says, to which Roseen responds, “That’s true - No, I did have to.” “I’m telling you, you pulled in here to avoid me, that’s exactly what you did,” the trooper says. “I mean, you almost hit the curb, you almost ran off the road. You definitely didn’t want me around you for some reason. … Why are your eyes glassy today?”
The traffic stop led to hours of detainment and a fruitless search of the truck that yielded nothing illegal; Roseen has filed a federal lawsuit over it, alleging he was profiled and illegally searched because of his license plate – which was from Colorado. He also has a Washington state driver’s license. Both Washington and Colorado have legalized marijuana; Idaho hasn’t.
The ISP said in a statement last week that it is conducting an internal investigation into the allegations in the lawsuit. “We would like to assure the citizens of Idaho and the visitors to our state that the Idaho State Police holds all of its employees to a high standard which includes following the Constitution of the United States and the laws and constitution of the State of Idaho,” the agency said. You can watch the video and see our full story here.
Here's a news item from today's Spokesman-Review: A girl in the back of a Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office patrol car slipped off her handcuffs, crawled into the front seat and drove away in the car Thursday evening at the Huetter rest area on eastbound I-90 in North Idaho. Kootenai County sheriff’s deputies and Idaho State Police troopers gave chase as the girl drove through Coeur d’Alene and then south on Highway 95. She was stopped on a dead-end road near milepost 421, according to a Sheriff’s Office press release. The girl was one of two juveniles in the car who had been reported as missing/runaways in Chandler, Ariz. The license plate reader on I-90 had identified the 1982 blue Chevrolet El Camino they were riding in as being associated with their disappearance.
The Idaho State Police has issued the following statement on the 'license-plate profiling' lawsuit filed against it by Darien Roseen:
Idaho State Police to Review Allegations in Lawsuit Stemming From Traffic Stop in January 2013
MERIDIAN - The Idaho State Police has learned that the department and one of its Troopers were named in a lawsuit filed by Darien Roseen for an alleged incident that occurred during a traffic stop on January 25, 2013. ISP did not receive a complaint from Mr. Roseen prior to the filing of this lawsuit.
We would like to assure the citizens of Idaho and the visitors to our state that the Idaho State Police holds all of its employees to a high standard which includes following the Constitution of the United States and the laws and constitution of the State of Idaho.
The allegations made by Mr. Roseen are now a pending legal matter, as well as, the subject of an internal investigation. Therefore, ISP will not be able to comment on the allegations or the facts of this specific incident until the matter is resolved.
Here’s a link to the Idaho State Police incident report on the Jan. 25, 2013 traffic stop in which a 69-year-old Washington man, whose vehicle had Colorado plates – he has a second home in Colorado – was pulled over as he entered Idaho on I-84, detained, and his vehicle extensively searched, as officers insisted he must have marijuana. Nothing illegal was found and Darien Roseen eventually was released. ISP released the report today pursuant to a request under the Idaho Public Records Law; the agency has not yet responded to a federal lawsuit over the incident.
In the report, ISP Trooper Justin Klitch wrote that he observed that Roseen’s eyes were glassy and “his hands were shaking uncontrollably as if he were extremely nervous.” He wrote, “I informed Roseen his behavior was consistent with someone who had illegal items in their vehicle.” He told Roseen he planned to call for a drug dog, and “he indicated that was fine and that I wouldn’t find anything.” Then, after Klitch urged Roseen to open a sub-trunk compartment under his pickup truck’s bed – because the officer knew “from prior experience” that the Honda Ridgeline truck had such a compartment – Roseen eventually agreed. Klitch said at that point he smelled the odor of marijuana.
The lawsuit says no one else smelled such an odor, and it was raining, windy and snowy at the time. The incident report says when Klitch told Roseen he smelled an odor of marijuana, Roseen “acted as if he were shocked.” No marijuana was found.
Mark Coonts, the attorney for Darien Roseen, the retired executive with Colorado license plates who was pulled over, detained and fruitlessly searched for drugs just inside the Idaho border as he passed through the state on I-84, said, “This driver was singled out because of the fact that he had a Colorado plate. … But there’s a bigger implication of any state having a particular characteristic or association with that, being used as justification for law enforcement contact.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com,
“For instance, Idaho is known as a pretty gun-friendly state, pro-gun,” Coonts told Eye on Boise. “It would be like me going to Oregon and being pulled over because of my Idaho plates, and law enforcement assuming that I had a gun, as soon as they walked up to the car, ‘Where’s the gun?’ I think that’s the much broader picture of this case.”
Coonts, who is with Jones & Swartz in Boise, said since news came out about Roseen’s case – and his federal lawsuit against the Idaho State Police – his firm has received a number of emails about similar incidents. “Quite a few people have emailed in about similar interactions,” he said. “In Idaho, people being stopped and questioned … the same type of scenario, people being targeted because of the plates of their vehicle.”
He added, “This is, we feel, a civil rights issue. It’s not a political issue about people’s particular ideas about marijuana, we didn’t file it about that at all. And we are not also passing judgment on all law enforcement, because they do have a difficult job. … If somebody’s speeding in our state, law enforcement should be able to issue a citation. It’s when it goes beyond that to start profiling, and people become associated with their state of origin, that’s when it becomes a civil rights violation.” For Idahoans, he said, “the risk is that they could experience the same treatment in other states.”
Federal lawsuit charges ISP targeted innocent traveler with Colo. plates for unwarranted drug search
A federal lawsuit against the Idaho State Police charges that officers profiled, pulled over, harassed, detained and searched a Washington man simply for driving across the Oregon line into Idaho on the freeway – because he had Colorado plates. Officers insisted the man must be carrying marijuana, but extensive searches of his vehicle found nothing illegal. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Darien Roseen, a retired executive who was on the way home from his daughter's baby shower in Washington to his second residence in Colorado, was targeted within the first mile he drove into Idaho by ISP Trooper Justin Klitch, according to the lawsuit, who pursued him as Roseen pulled into the “Welcome to Idaho” rest area, refused to allow him to use the bathroom, and began badgering him to consent to a search of his vehicle – which Roseen refused. This happened just before noon on Jan. 25.
By the time the incident was over, Klitch had called in additional officers, detained Roseen in a patrol car, had an officer drive Roseen’s truck – without his permission – to the Payette County Sheriff’s Department, where it was further searched, and held Roseen up for hours. The lawsuit, which names the ISP, the Fruitland Police Department, the Payette County Sheriff’s Department, and the numerous officers involved, alleges violations of the 4th, 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution regarding illegal search and seizure, along with discriminatory and selective treatment by profiling, violating the equal protection guarantees of the 14th Amendment and Roseen’s right to interstate travel.
“Trooper Klitch profiled, followed, and pulled over the vehicle driven by Mr. Roseen because it had Colorado license plates,” the lawsuit states. “Upon learning that Mr. Roseen came from Washington, Trooper Klitch further profiled Mr. Roseen. Trooper Klitch assumed and alleged that Mr. Roseen was a person who was transporting marijuana based on his states of residence.”
Both Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana; Idaho has not. And the ISP has been reporting numerous big marijuana busts in recent months along I-84, a main route of travel between the states. Click below for a full report from the Denver Post via the Associated Press; you can read the lawsuit complaint here. The Post reported that Idaho State Police would not comment over the weekend, but planned to issue a statement on the litigation later this week.
The Idaho State Police is launching its third “All Hands on Deck” operation of the year tomorrow, sending all its commissioned officers, including the top brass and those who normally work behind a desk, out to patrol the state’s highways. Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, is one of the busiest travel days of the year.
"We want to give families added safety on the roads to start out the holiday season," said Col. Ralph Powell, ISP chief. "Thanksgiving weekend is a busy time for friends and families, but it is also a busy time for crashes and fatalities. ISP wants to do all we can to prevent these tragedies.” The additional patrols will be watching for traffic violations that are known to be factors in crashes and fatalities, including speed, aggressive and distracted driving, driving while impaired, and failing to use seatbelts and child safety seats.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Normal attrition rates in the ranks of Idaho's state police have the agency putting out a "Help Wanted" call. The Idaho State Police said Monday it's taking applications for 20 troopers positions through July 22, with training to begin in January. ISP Colonel Ralph Powell says only those with the highest moral standards need apply. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, have a high school diploma or GED and pass an online examination, before a battery of additional tests including physical fitness. There are also background checks, work history verification and psychological and medical scrutiny. Training takes about nine months to complete, but the starting pay is relatively robust, at $17.67 per hour and possibly higher if the candidate is a current police officer with at least three years of experience.
The Idaho State Police reported 31 DUI arrests statewide over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, from Friday night through early Tuesday morning. ISP also reported 23 crashes, including one fatality and five causing injuries. There were also 35 drug-related arrests, 28 of those misdemeanors and seven felonies. The stats are for ISP only, and don’t include incidents handled by local law enforcement agencies.
So how does that compare to last year? Last year saw 39 DUI arrests, so that’s down, and 22 crashes including one fatality and five causing injuries, so that’s largely unchanged. The number of drug-related arrests, though, was up significantly - more than doubling. During last year’s Memorial Day holiday weekend, ISP reported only 14, including nine misdemeanors and five felonies.
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has appointed Lt. Col. Ralph Powell director of the Idaho State Police, also elevating Powell to the rank of colonel. Powell has been acting director since Col. Jerry Russell retired in January; he’s been deputy director since 2012 and is a 30-year ISP veteran. Click below for Otter’s full announcement.
Col. Jerry Russell, director of the Idaho State Police since January of 2007, plans to retire on Jan. 18, Gov. Butch Otter announced today. “I couldn’t have asked for a better director, a better leader or a better example of a true public servant than I’ve had with Jerry Russell,” Otter said. “I regret losing him, but I know that one of his priorities has been establishing and maintaining a strong bench of leaders at ISP who can continue his great work. … I wish him the best in all his future endeavors.” Click below for Otter's full announcement.
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.
Forty percent of marijuana seizures in Idaho consist of Oregon medical marijuana, according to Idaho State Police records - legal in that state in the right circumstances, but not for anyone across the border in Idaho. On the stretch of I-84 where ISP Trooper Justin Klitch patrols, it's 53 percent, the AP reports. That's led to an odd phenomenon on the Idaho border, in which longtime Idahoans risk arrest to go home from picking up their pot in Oregon, and they often get caught. "It's like crossing the Berlin Wall," an Idaho woman told AP reporter Nigel Duara. "It's like going into another country." Click below for Duara's full report.
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.
(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."
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.
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.
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has reviewed the sexual harassment allegations against former Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, and handed the case over to the Idaho State Police. “He determined it was appropriate to provide to ISP,” said Attorney General's office spokesman Bob Cooper, who said Wasden met with ISP Director Col. Jerry Russell yesterday afternoon to hand over the case. Asked the status of the matter at ISP, Russell said today, “ISP is currently conducting a preliminary investigation to determine if any criminal laws have been violated”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
- Also: Ex-Sen. McGee's employer: No decision made on his marketing job/Statesman
Question: How do you think all this will play out for former senator John McGee?
(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.
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.