OpenCDA

May 8, 2016

Yantis Shooting Update

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 12:09 pm

19117510-mmmainOpenCdA’s earlier posts reported the death of Council, Idaho, rancher Jack Yantis after his encounter with two Adams County, Idaho, deputy sheriffs on November 1, 2015.

The Idaho State Police was asked to investigate the incident which resulted in Yantis’s death.

On March 10, 2016, the Idaho State Police delivered the results of its investigation to the Idaho Attorney General’s Office.  The AG’s office is serving as the special prosecutor.

Between March 10, 2016, and today, there have been no news releases about this incident on the AG’s office Media Center webpage.  Presumably the AG’s assessment is to determine if any state criminal charges should be filed in Yantis’s death.

Shortly after the November 1 incident, a group of Council-area citizens started a Facebook page titled “Justice for Jack“.  It has been updated fairly regularly.

February 10, 2016

Former Sheriff Admits Lying to Feds

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 5:01 pm

badge-baca-350Eileen M. Decker, US Attorney for the Central District of California, announced that retired Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca pleaded guilty today in federal court to two counts of lying to federal agents investigating allegations of abusive treatment and corruption by deputy sheriffs in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

Baca acknowledged lying about his office’s efforts to hide an LA County jail inmate from the FBI.  The plan to hide the inmate, an FBI confidential source, was named Operation Pandora’s Box.

Several of Baca’s former command staff are scheduled to be tried in federal court on related charges.

Addendum on 02-13-2016Recordings reveal the lies former LA sheriff told prosecutor

November 12, 2015

It Takes Time …

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 8:23 am

19117510-mmmainOpenCdA’s earlier posts about the death of Council rancher Jack Yantis after his encounter with two Adams County deputy sheriffs on November 1 tried to explain that thorough investigations take time.

Here is a press release issued today by the Idaho State Police concerning an unrelated officer-involved incident in Middleton in March.  It gives readers some insight into just how long officer-involved death investigations can take.

Thoroughness and clarity trumps speed.

Addendum on 11-12-2015 at 12:26 p.m.:  Here is the Idaho Statesman’s reporting on the press conference.  It  includes a segment of the video and audio from the deputy’s body-worn camera/mic.

November 11, 2015

A Commendable Effort

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 11:59 am

19117510-mmmainOpenCdA thinks that Idaho’s Adams County Sheriff Ryan Zollman deserves a sincere thank you from the 300 or so people who attended a town hall meeting in Council on Tuesday night — even if they strongly disagreed with him.

The purpose of the town hall meeting was to let the public directly and personally question Sheriff Zollman about the incident involving two of his deputies and Council rancher Jack Yantis on November 1.  During that incident, Mr. Yantis was killed.

The investigation of the incident is being conducted by the Idaho State Police.  The Idaho Attorney General’s Office has agreed to serve as a special prosecutor at the request of the Adams County Prosecuting Attorney.   (more…)

November 9, 2015

Disturbing News Story from Southern Idaho

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 8:21 am

19117510-mmmainJack Yantis, a rancher who lived near Council, Idaho, was shot and killed on the evening of November 1, 2015, during an incident involving two Adams County Sheriff’s Office deputies.  The initial report was in a November 2 Idaho State Police press release.

Though this story has received comparatively little coverage from our northern Idaho skews media, there have been several stories in the Idaho Statesman.  It includes this one on November 7 headlined Idaho rancher’s wife:  ‘I saw them murder my husband’. (more…)

September 14, 2015

The Ferguson Commission Report

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 7:08 am

Ferguson Report Here is a link to the 198-page digital version of Ferguson Commission Report.   The print version will be released to the public later today.

Even though the report primarily focuses on the greater St. Louis, MO, area, many of the findings and recommendations are applicable and worthy of consideration throughout the country.

January 3, 2015

Where’s the Missing Information?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 9:00 am

InformationNotProvidedIn today’s Coeur d’Alene Press skews paper article headlined Kootenai County looks to 2015, writer David Cole included comments from County Commissioner-elect David Stewart.

Some of Stewart’s comments suggested the pay for newly-hired and relatively inexperienced Kootenai County Deputy Sheriffs needs to be raised to keep the deputies from leaving for departments that pay more.

The article quoted Stewart as saying, “Currently there are nine sheriff patrol deputy openings, due to them leaving Kootenai County for higher pay.”  That line screams for information which should have been included in the article. (more…)

October 15, 2014

The “Split-Second Decision” Defense

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 7:42 am

WrongWayWhen a law enforcement officer is involved in a shooting, some citizens will leap to the officer’s defense even before the incident has been objectively and completely investigated and the relevant facts reported.

In their uninformed zeal to publicly and loudly declare their “support” for law enforcement, those citizens will go on autopilot and invoke the sometimes-valid “split-second decision” defense.  The citizens will magnanimously proclaim, “Well, we have to cut law enforcement officers some slack, because after all, we expect them to make split-second, life-and-death decisions.  Sometimes they will make a mistake.”

Unquestionably there are times when the “split-second decision” to use lethal force is unavoidable, times when it is the only decision reasonably available to law enforcement officers.

However, chief executive law enforcement officers must have both the political courage and the leadership skills to ensure that the “split-second decision” defense is not abused, that it does not become the universal excuse.  It must never become an acceptable rationalization for encouraging or requiring their officers to take actions which may save time but are more likely to place the officers in situations requiring split-second decisions.  (more…)

September 17, 2014

Coeur d’Alene: Most Dangerous City in Idaho?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 11:45 am

violentcrimeIs Coeur d’Alene, Idaho really the most dangerous city in Idaho?  Could be.

Last night on KREM2 news out of Spokane, reporter Shawn Chitnis reported on a recent analysis of  FBI violent crime statistics.  His story was headlined Spokane and Coeur d’Alene rank high on dangerous city list.

We contacted KREM2 reporter Shawn Chitnis this morning, and he responded very promptly to provide the online source for his story.

A group called Law Street Media did a 50-state analysis of the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report information for 2012, the most recent year for which complete data was available.

Here is a link to Law Street Media’s state-by-state slideshow:  America’s Safest and Most Dangerous States 2014.  It is important to read LSM’s introductory material to understand some of the factors that can sometimes skew the figures.

But a review of the LSM’s data for Idaho leaves little doubt that Coeur d’Alene could certainly be considered Idaho’s most dangerous city.

September 16, 2014

Idaho Statesman Op-Ed Missed the Mark

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , — Bill @ 12:04 pm

Missed the MarkThis morning’s Idaho Statesman opinion piece was entitled Our View:  Police, dog owners must share responsibility.  The unnamed writer was commenting, collectively, on three recent shootings of pet dogs by Idaho law enforcement officers.

The op-ed writer mentioned Coeur d’Alene, so we presume he was including the Arfee killing by a Coeur d’Alene police officer.  If so, the writer might want to reread the officer’s account of the shooting.  According to the officer, Arfee appeared suddenly in the partially open van window just inches from the officer’s face.  In what sounds to us to be a “startle” reaction, the officer fired his already-unholstered weapon once and killed Arfee.

The op-ed writer’s first premise was that in most and maybe every instance, there should be enough time for an officer to carefully assess a dog’s various behaviors and then set a non-lethal course of action. His second premise is that an unattended but lawfully and safely contained dog will always obey commands from a police officer or an animal control officer.

We address the op-ed writer’s second premise first.  It’s absurd.

The first premise is very desirable, but it will require the police to do more than just learn dog behaviors.  They will need to adjust their approach to various situations so that “startle” reactions are less likely to result in gunfire.  In the Arfee killing, we wonder:  Why had the officer unholstered his weapon?  If his overall assessment of the situation required (in his mind)  unholstering his weapon, might there have been actions he and his trainee partner and additional officers could have taken first to preclude the perceived necessity of unholstering his weapon and thereby being at risk of a “startle” shooting?

We admit it:  We are second-guessing.  Then again, we have little choice.  The first guesses — the ones that result in training, policy, and procedures — needed to have been taken by the Idaho Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, the Coeur d’Alene Chief of Police, and the Coeur d’Alene Police Department training officer.  Apparently, they weren’t.

OpenCdA wishes that when there are serious incidents like the ones mentioned in today’s op-ed, the Idaho Statesman and the rest of Idaho’s (alleged) news media would focus as much on the failures of command and leadership in Idaho’s law enforcement agencies and the Idaho Peace Officers Standards and Training Council as they focus on the behavior of the individual officer who pulled the trigger.

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