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Stop or Else--And We Mean It

Boise Ombudsman exonerates cops

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Please be advised that if the Boise City Police Department is chasing a dangerous criminal in your neighborhood with guns drawn, you ought to duck. Like they did on March 9 in Garden City while chasing the escaped felon Harlan Hale, Boise Police officers aren't shy about returning fire. After an exhaustive review of the Hale shootout, in which one officer fired 10 rounds at the fleeing Hale, Boise City Ombudsman Pierce Murphy exonerated all three officers, with some caveats. He'd like them to think hard about just what they're hoping to acheive by firing at a motorized suspect. "The 'made-for-television' scenario, in which an officer shoots and the vehicle rolls to a stop while the driver slumps over the steering wheel, is not the most likely outcome," Murphy wrote in his report. Further, he'd like the officers to realize that shooting in a neighborhood creates unintended consequences (the peppered houses in Garden City notwithstanding) and to consider a number of other options, including better roadblocks, to slow down fleeing felons.

BPD Chief Michael Masterson thanked Murphy for the input, but stopped short of announcing any major changes to policy. Officers will, he said, be told not to shoot at oncoming cars "when the vehicle alone is the sole threat to the officer," Masterson wrote in a response. However, Masterson said, because Hale was known to be both armed and dangerous, his officers did the right thing.

In this regard, emptying a clip at Hale certainly worked; after the 10-round fusillade, Hale surrendered to officers. Just as well; according to the report, the only reason the officer stopped was to reload.

--Shea Andersen