Boise Police Department
News Release

Michael F. Masterson
Chief of Police


Contact: Lynn Hightower
Communications Director
570-6180

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Prosecutor Finds Police Involved Shooting Justifiable

The following was released today by Bannock County Prosecutor Mark Hiedeman. This incident involved Boise Police Officer Matt Jacobs. Boise Police would like to thank the officers of the Ada County Critical Incident Task Force and Prosecutor Hiedeman for the time and effort they have invested in this investigation.

Bannock County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Hiedeman Finds Police Inovled Shooting of May 31, 2012 Justifiable.

August 15, 2012 - Bannock County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Hiedeman announced today that the shooting of Troy Epperley was justifiable. The incident was investigated by the Ada County Critical Incident Taskforce. Leading the investigation was Detective Russell Winters of the Garden City Police Department.

Mr. Epperley was armed, came out of a garage at 6168 N. Sparkford Way in Boise and confronted police officers who had responded to 911 calls from Epperley and his estranged wife. He had previously texted his estranged wife that he was intending to commit "suicide by cop". Officers instructed Epperley to stop and drop his weapon. When he refused to obey those commands, he was shot once in the abdomen and later succumbed to his injuries after being transported to the hospital.

The investigation was thoroughly and professionally investigated by the CITF. There is no question that officers acted appropriately under these circumstances.

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Remarks from Chief Michael Masterson at a news briefing regarding this case at the Garden City Police Headquarters, August 16, 2012:

This is a tragic story and a tragic ending.  One that any police officer only hopes and prays they can get through a career without experiencing.  Anytime a police officer, uses force which results in the loss of a life, it is critical that event, investigation and decision made be subject to a thorough, independent review.  The Boise Police Department thanks Bannock County Prosecutor Mark Heideman for his review and timely decision rendered.  Prior investigations have lasted many months, and credit goes to Ada County Prosecutor Greg Bower for this improvement.

 The Boise Police Department has seen an increase in calls of people in crises like Troy Epperley was experiencing this night, nearly 13,000 responded to in the last two years alone.  Just yesterday we handled a woman with a gun to her body threatening suicide after being denied disability benefits.  We resolved that successfully just as we have thousands of calls like it.  We have created a Crises Intervention Team within the department, a special group of officers who receive additional specialized training that can be called to help handle people in crises.  We added 11 new officers to that cadre in 2011. 

Internally, we're also taking steps to better help officers involved in shootings. Often, officers forced to fire their weapons in the line of duty experience divorce, flashbacks and other stressors. The stress often forces that officer to leave the the law enforceme as their family copes with safety concerns.

All of these efforts are “downstream” training tactics and equipment to respond to individuals in crises after the fact.  As a state and society, we need to focus on “upstream” efforts to minimize using police – from Boise, Chubbuck, Post Falls or any Sheriff’s Department in our state as primary intervention services.  Our suicide prevention hotline scheduled to start in a couple of months is an overdue and much needed service.  As a state, we rank very low in funding mental health services. Citizens need to speak out and contact their state senators and representatives calling for more services, not less.  The increase in Boise in calls for police to respond to individuals experiencing emotional crisis is undoubtedly replicated in other police departments throughout our state.  The increases we're seeing may well be lagging indicators of the recent great recession as our families work through lack of employment, financial struggles and added stresses in our personal lives and our families.

In addition to a call for state government to be more “upstream” and proactive in funding services for citizens in crises, family and friends also have a personal responsibility for recognizing when those we're close to are in crises and to connect them to help.  It’s that early intervention that is critical to getting individuals in crises the help they need.

Tips for helping those experiencing emotional stress:

  1. Talk to them about your concern. Provide support – emotionally, etc.
  2. Remove guns from the house for safekeeping.
  3. Know what resources are available in your community.

 

The Suicide Prevention Action Network of Idaho is a great resource. For more, go to www.spanidaho.org. 

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Previously Released:

   Boise, June 1, 2012, 12:05 p.m. - To clarify, the officer who fired his weapon is the officer who was being approached by the armed suspect in what witness officers described as a forward, agressive manner. The officer involved is a five year veteran of the Boise Police Department and has worked his entire career in the Patrol division. He was outside his marked patrol vehicle at the time he fired the shot toward the approaching suspect.

   The armed man has been idenified by the Ada County Coroner as Troy Epperley, 37 of Boise. According to the coroner, Epperley died following a single gunshot wound to the abdomen. 

   Following the shot fired, all four officers on scene immediately began giving the suspect first aid, including efforts to try and slow blood loss prior to the arrival of paramedics. The shot was fired at 10:43 p.m. Epperley was declared dead at a local hospital at 11;56 p.m.

   Please read the following previous release for additional details.

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   Boise, June 1, 2012, 4:25 a.m. - The Ada County Critical Incident Task Force (CITF) was activated overnight after a shooting involving a Boise Police Officer. The shooting happened as officers were responding to a call of a man with a gun reported to be suicidal. The man has since died.

    What Happened: A woman called police at 10:23 p.m. last night reporting a man at a home on the 6100 block of N. Sparkford Way had been drinking, was suicidal and had access to weapons in the home. Officers arrived moments later and found the man alone standing in the driveway with a handgun. Although the CITF investigation is still very active, preliminary reports from witness officers say officers attempts to talk the man into putting down the weapon failed. Four officers were on scene at the time. One officer fired one round from his service weapon when he saw the man move aggressively toward officers with the handgun. The shot hit the man in the abdomen. He died later at St Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. His name will be released by the Ada County Coroner following notification of family. He was a resident of the home and identified to be in his 30's. No one else was at the home at the time of the incident. No one else, including the officers were hurt.

    The officers who were on scene, including the officer who fired are on administrative leave which is policy to allow officers to de-stress and recover after being involved in any type of shooting. The officer's name is not being released at the time.

    Ongoing Investigations: Because this incident involved the discharge of an officers weapon while interacting with a criminal suspect, the incident is under investigation by the Ada County Critical Incident Task Force that includes members from Garden City, Meridian and Boise Police, Idaho State Police and the Ada County Sheriff's Office. The information in this release is considered preliminary pending the CITF investigation. Detectives with the Garden City Police Department are leading the multi-agency inquiry. The CITF investigates the criminal aspects of the incident.  The Boise Police Department and the Boise Community Ombudsman are investigating the officers actions with regard to department policy and training.