Boise Police Department
News Release

Michael F. Masterson
Chief of Police


Contact: Lynn Hightower
Communications Director
570-6180

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

09-30-09 UPDATE: Charging Decisions Made in two of 3 Fatal Bike Collisions

09-30-09 UPDATE: Charging Decisions Made in two of 3 Fatal Bike Collisions
***Boise PD policy does not allow release of names of individuals (in this case, the driver) who are not cited or charged.
 
UPDATE: Vehicle-Cyclist Collision May 21, 2009 
    Boise, Sept. 30, 2009 - Boise Police have completed their investigation into a fatal collision between a car and a cyclist that occurred May 21st of this year. 

    Boise Police detectives recently received results from toxicology tests from the driver of the car involved in the collision. The test results proved negative for drugs or alcohol, substances that may cause impairment. 

   Several witnesses to the collision reported to investigating officers the cyclist hit was crossing Milwaukee at Emerald against the red light, meaning it appears to investigators the car driver had the green light and did not see the cyclist crossing against the light due to sun. Sadly, the cyclist died of his injuries shortly after the collision.

    Based on the information gathered, detectives have not found any evidence that the driver of the vehicle committed a crime. The police investigation has concluded and no criminal charges will be filed in this case.

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UPDATE: Charges Filed in Fatal Bike Collsion

    Boise, Sept. 23, 2009 - Boise Police have been informed by prosecutors that charges of misdemeanor Vehicular Manslaughter have been filed against the driver of the van that struck a cyclist on S. Orchard St. near the airport May 19th of this year.  The cyclist, Jim Lee Chu, 55, of Eagle later died of injuries sustained in the collision.
  
    Charged: Michael A. Perkins, 35, Boise - Vehicular Manslaughter (m)
  
    The investigation completed by Boise Police has been reviewed by prosecutors from both Ada County and Boise City. After review, both prosecutorial agencies have concluded the facts and circumstances of the death of Mr. Chu are sufficient to support a charge of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. A date for appearance is not yet known.  
  
    What Happened:   On May 19th, at approximately 12:52 p.m. Boise Police were called to a collision near S. Orchard St and W. Aeronca St. The investigation showed the cyclist had been riding northbound on Orchard when he was struck by a van from behind. 
  
   If proven beyond a reasonable doubt,  the maximum penalty under the law for misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, Idaho Code sec. 18-4006(c)(3), is up to one year in jail and/or up to a $2,000 fine.  Additionally, a court may order payment of support for any minor child of the victim of the offense and suspend driving privileges. 
 
NOTE: where this stands right now: charges have been filed by Boise City prosecutor with 4th District Court.  Under Idaho law, where flight risk is not a factor, a summons ordering the suspect to appear in court is preferred over a warrant for arrest.  For media, this means there is no booking photo available to you at the jail.  Under Idaho law, summonsing is the common legal practice in cases like this.  Since the summons for the suspect current resides with the courts, reporters will have to check with the courts for verification that the summons has been served and the dates during which the suspect may be expected to appear in court on the charges.
 
NOTE: The fatal bike/vehicle collisions that occurred in Boise May 21 and June 11 remain under investigation, as does the pedestrian/vehicle fatality that occurred Aug. 19. 
 
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Media Advisory:
Clarification on Fatal Pedestrian, Cyclist Investigations
 
   Boise, Sept. 8, 2009 - Boise Police feel the need to correct some critical misinformation that has been recently reported regarding 3 cyclist fatalities (May 19, 21, June 11) and the double fatality (Aug 19) involving pedestrians on Parkcenter Blvd.
   This clarification is issued in hopes that media outlets do not continue to report misinformation. Please feel free to call the BPD PIO with any questions.
 
  • Contrary to the recent media report, the driver in the Parkcenter incident has NOT tested positive for drugs or alcohol. Toxicology samples were taken and results have NOT YET been received.
 
  • Also, contrary to the recent media report, toxicology samples HAVE BEEN taken in the collision involving a juvenile driver and a cyclist on Hill Rd Jun 11th. Those results have NOT YET been received.
 
  • All four incidents remain under investigation. Tox samples were taken in all 4 fatal cases.
 
   As BPD has been reporting to media and the public, when toxicology tests have been returned a charging decision is made, that information will be reported to the media as soon as possible.

   About BPD Impact reports: Impact reports are the collision reports submitted by police agencies, including BPD to the Idaho Transportation Department following traffic collisions. ITD uses these reports to gather data on highway safety. Impact reports, although part of the overall criminal investigation, are not meant to be criminal investigative reports and not meant to answer questions regarding an ongoing criminal investigation. Impact reports may be filed by the officers with incomplete or preliminary information. Again, because the purpose is to get the reports to ITD for traffic safety statistical information, these reports are not inaccurate, but may be incomplete. Reporters who access these reports are urged to get information clarified before reporting.
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More on BPD policies on release of information/Investigative procedure regarding toxicology tests:
 
   Names: When an individual is charged or arrested, that's when, according to Boise Police policy, their name becomes a public record and available for public release. Only names of people involved in traffic incidents who are cited or arrested are released by the police department. Victim, witness, possible suspect, and names of persons with information are also not released by police during an ongoing investigation. Deceased victims names are released publically by the Ada County Coroner who has responsibility for making positive identification. While incidents remain under investigation, all names involved are part of an ongoing investigative record, which is not yet public per Idaho Code 9-335, pending the conclusion of the investigation.
 
   Public Records Requests: Information not released by police during an ongoing investigation, may, at the conclusion of the investigation and subsequent court proceedings, be available through a public records request made to the public records custodian of the Boise Police Department. Some information, including names of witnesses of individuals not charged may not be released per policies regarding individuals rights to privacy. Boise City Attorney's review all public records requests made to the police department.
 
   Evidence Tests: In cases where there is no obvious sign of impairment, the results of the evidence and toxicology tests are critical in the decision as to who appears responsible, and what criminal charges, if any, should be filed.
 
   Those tests may mean the difference between a minor traffic infraction and small fine, or a felony charge with a significant penalty that may include jail time. And as you know, with our justice system, once a charge is filed and the defendant enters a plea, if additional evidence is later found that would warrant a more serious charge, the double jeopardy clause would prohibit prosecutors from filing.
 
    In other words, if officers respond to a traffic collision with a death or serous injury, if they find no evidence of obvious alcohol or drug use, the law would only permit the officers to charge the person responsible with a minor violation, a misdemeanor. The evidence simply would not yet be available that could support a more serious felony charge. However, if time is given for evidence and toxicology tests to come back that show the driver had other issues that were perhaps not obvious, like prescription drug use, a medical issue that should prohibit driving, or some other mitigating factor, prosecutors could file a more serious felony charge and have the evidence to make that charge stand up in court.
 
   Serious criminal charges require a very high burden of proof, and that is what investigating officers want to be able to collect and present to prosecutors to make the most appropriate charge in any criminal case.
 
    When an arrest is made or an arrest warrant issued in the case, or if the investigation finds no evidence of criminal activity in a traffic incident involving a death or serious injury, that information will be made public as soon as possible.
 
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Lynn Hightower
Communications Director
Boise Police Department
PIO, Boise Fire Dept.
(208) 570-6180
lhightower@cityofboise.org
www.boisepolice.org

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Boise Chief of Police explains time is needed to ensure a thorough, complete investigation into the tragic deaths of three cyclists in Boise City. Links to Idaho State and Boise City Cycling Codes.

To read Idaho State Code regarding traffic laws for bicyclists:

http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/idstat/Title49/T49CH7.htm

To read Boise City bicycling codes:

http://www.cityofboise.org/Departments/City_Clerk/PDF/CityCode/Title10/1014.pdf

The following was submitted as a Guest Opinion to the Idaho Statesman June 23, 2009 by Boise Chief of Police Mike Masterson.

    The deaths of three cyclists in one month is a tragedy, that understandably has captured the attention of our community. Boise Police Officers were the first arriving emergency responders to each of these cases. As the agency entrusted with leading this community in traffic safety, investigating the circumstances surrounding each death is the highest priority for this department.

    Each case is ongoing and active, and includes investigations by Boise PD’s expert team of crash reconstructionists and violent crimes detectives. Those officers have gathered evidence that’s currently being tested in labs run by our partners, the Ada County Coroner and the Idaho State Police.

    Because each case involves a death, it requires the highest, most thorough and complex level of police investigation. Death investigations are much different than routine traffic collisions. In a routine crash, where injuries are non-life threatening and involve only vehicle damage, an officer may issue a citation to the offender right away, often before those involved have left the scene.

    Investigations of traffic crashes involving a death are more complex, and as serious as the potential criminal consequences. Where a traffic infraction is a $75 fine for the offender and an insurance claim for the victim, a vehicular manslaughter charge may mean jail or prison time, and all involved suffer life changing consequences.

    Any criminal charge will be scrutinized by investigators, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, juries, and the public. If criminal charges are to be filed, the charges must be carefully weighed against only the most solid of evidence that will stand up to the scrutiny of public inspection and a court of law.

    From the beginning, investigating officers set out to hold those responsible accountable as the law allows. Officers want to provide answers to the families involved and the community as to what happened. To provide these answers with the highest level of professional and legal integrity, the investigations become complex, and evidence from vehicle damage to human blood and tissue samples must be tested, and sometimes retested. This doesn’t happen in moments like it does on TV cop shows. Conclusive results often involve far away labs and analysis of several experts. It’s this complexity, which a death investigation demands, that extends the time needed to investigate a fatal collision from minutes to weeks.

    When tests are done, the investigation complete, and charges reviewed, the findings will be made public, along with the legal basis for those findings. The community will know that the death of a fellow citizen will have been thoroughly and methodically examined, and the community will be left with any lessons learned.

    In addition to completing the investigations, Boise Police have been directed by Mayor Bieter to lead a review of what we can learn from these tragedies. A team of city staff and community partners are looking at what steps we can take as a city to improve the safety of all motorists, particularly our growing community of cyclists. The review will consider areas including education, engineering and enforcement.

    We’ll identify, for example, specific areas where increased traffic enforcement may lessen collisions or near-collisions. We’ll review the City’s comprehensive plan for future bicycle related improvements to see if it’s still based on current needs. We’ll look at what education programs can spread the word that we all need to share the road. And the team plans several “listening sessions” to gather citizen’s ideas for improvements.

    Roadway safety is not related to your zip code, age, gender, or preferred mode of travel. Only by working together can we make a difference in improving safety for all users.

    To contact Chief Masterson about this or any other issue, email him at mmasterson@cityofboise.org