Candles, balloons and music set the mood for Michael Casper's 29th birthday Oct. 12. The only thing missing was Casper. Actually, he has missed his last three birthdays after he was shot and killed in a February 2015 armed standoff with Boise Police Department officers outside his Boise Bench apartment building.
"He is supposed to be here with us today," said Casper's mother Fran Gough. "Most nights, I stay at home, just waiting for him to come home."
Gough has shed a lot of tears and struggled with what she said were "too many unanswered questions" surrounding the shooting. It triggered national headlines as one of multiple officer-related shootings happening across the U.S., but a Critical Incident Task Force investigation exonerated BPD, saying Casper's actions "placed his neighbors and responding officers in extreme danger." It was when Casper allegedly fired a shotgun from inside his Malad Street apartment that officers shot and killed him.
"It's too bad Boise police didn't have body cameras back then," said Gough, referring to the technology BPD began using in the summer of 2016. "I would have given anything for them to be wearing body cameras on the night my son was killed."
Casper's family members are still mourning their loss, which is why they gathered at the intersection of Gourley and Malad streets Oct. 12. They tied a "Happy Birthday" balloon to a street sign, lit some candles, placed roses on the street and blasted the song "Simple Man" by Shinedown from a car radio.
With the lyrics "Mama told me, when I was young / Take your time, don't live too fast. / Troubles will come and they will pass," hanging in the air, Gough said, "We'll just keep celebrating his birthdays. He'll never be forgotten."