By Mark Barnes
The police are still not releasing the name of a Kuna man that was shot by three Ada County deputies and one Boise police officer on Saturday, March 9 near the intersection of Cloverdale and Barker Roads. The 41-year-old man was moved last week to a hospital in Utah from St. Alphonsus Medical Center and is still listed in critical condition and is “hour-to-hour” according to Sherriff Gary Raney.
At a press conference last week, Sherriff Raney said, “There’s a fine line between homicide and suicide,” referring to the incident. Apparently as the events unfolded, Raney said it could have easily turned in to a homicide had the suspect not left the residence where the
According to Sherriff Raney, the man had at least five prior incidents with police based on mental health threats and had been through the Ada County Mental Health Court four to five years ago. Sherriff Raney said that once the tape and radio calls are released, it will be clear that officers did everything they could to avoid a violent outcome to the situation. All four officers involved in the shooting were put on administrative leave but have since returned to duty.
Boise Police Chief Michael Masterson said, “Idaho is 51st in the nation for mental health services.” He added that of the 900 inmates in the county jail, over 80 percent suffer some form of mental illness. Ten percent of those have chronic mental illness.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health’s state estimates of adult mental illness Idaho has the third highest number based on population of adults with any mental illness and is ranked sixth behind Rhode Island, Arkansas, Utah, West Virginia and Indiana on a 2008-2009 survey. In 2010, Idaho ranked 51st on expenditure per capita according to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors Research Institute.
Sherriff Raney said there is a growing mental health crisis in Idaho and that law enforcement is on the front line between mental health violence and the public. He said this incident a few weeks ago is just one example of the growing number of interactions involving police and the mentally ill.
Additional information about the shooting was released at the press conference by the Ada County Sherriff’s department. After following the man south on Cloverdale Road, the officers tried to contain him to the unpopulated areas to avoid the general public. As the man drove towards officers, the deputies avoided contact and the man’s vehicle was disabled from spike strips laid down by a Meridian police officer.
Upon exiting his truck, the man pointed his 44-revolver at police from 30 to 40 feet away and officers were forced to fire to protect their lives. The man did not fire his weapon.
After the four officers shot the suspect, the man dropped his weapon but he did not fall to the ground. A police K9 was used to pull the man away from his weapon and towards the ground but the man continued to refuse to comply with officer’s commands. Deputies then used a Taser to subdue the man.