Boise police who fired 68 shots at gunman acted in self-defense, report says

Benjamin Christian Barnes, 42, was shot and killed in March 2017 after police said he threatened several people and dogs in the Hulls Gulch area. Barnes fired and killed a family dog before exchanging gunfire with Boise police officers, the Idaho Statesman previously reported.

Now, five years later, the Boise Police Accountability Office has released a four-page investigation report into the shooting that cleared officers of any wrongdoing.

The actions of agents were previously considered “completely justified” by Blaine County District Attorney Jim J. Thomas in October 2017. All shootings by Boise police officers are investigated and reviewed by a prosecutor.

City officials announced last month that they issue press releases when an investigation is completed after the statesman published an article detailing how the bureau, under Director Jesus Jara, released six reports on the Boise Police Department shootings without telling the public.

The Office of Police Accountability also released a report on a suspected carjacking turned vehicle pursuit in October 2020. The report determined that although an officer used “extreme measure” to stop the carjacker’s vehicle, he “acted in a manner consistent with police and BPD procedures,” according to the report. .

On Oct. 27, 2020, a Boise police officer rammed Laithon Dallas Webb’s vehicle head-on with his patrol car to end the pursuit, according to the report. Details were not disclosed until Monday.

Webb also had bandaged gunshot wounds when he arrived at the hospital, but previous press releases and Monday’s report did not reveal how he was shot.

See the body cam video of the shoot here.

The six-page report says an extreme measure – like ramming into a suspect’s car – must have prior permission from the incident commander and is only used when other means have failed or are not practice. The officer, identified as “Officer #7”, asked if he could ram the stolen vehicle. His lieutenant told him to use a pursuit intervention technique, which is used to force a vehicle aside – a less extreme method of stopping a vehicle.

The officer did not have clearance to ram Webb’s vehicle, but “the conditions he faced with the failure of other methods to arrest the subject, as well as the subject’s refusal to pull over, l ‘left with ramming as the best forced stop option at that time to end the chase,’ according to the report.

The officer was interviewed for the report. During the chase, the officer said he believed shelling was also permitted under the same protocol as a PIT, according to the report. Given Webb’s speed, he thought a PIT maneuver would have fallen under lethal force, the officer said.

Throughout the chase, an officer attempted to use spike bands, but it was unsuccessful. Webb was taken into custody.

The suspects and officers were not named in the reports. The statesman was able to match the details of the reports using the unique circumstances of the two cases.

Jara previously told the Statesman that imprecise reporting was mandatory. The order creating the Office of Accountability requires that no names or identifying information of anyone involved be included.