Boise police chief allegedly broke sergeant’s neck

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A high-ranking officer with the Boise Police Department has filed a tort lawsuit against Chief Ryan Lee and the city, alleging that Lee “caused serious and substantial injury” to the sergeant, according to a claim obtained by the police. statesman from Idaho through a request for records. .

sergeant. Kirk Rush, who has worked at the department for 17 years, filed the lawsuit on April 5, after he alleged Lee broke his neck in October during a morning briefing. The Idaho Press first reported on the tort suit.

“Sergeant. Rush knew Chief Lee hurt him as soon as he heard and felt the snap in his neck,” Rush’s attorney, T. Guy Hallam, wrote in the claim.

A tort action is not a lawsuit, but puts a government agency on notice. Idaho law requires that a tort action be filed before an individual can sue the agency for an alleged violation of state law.

Lee has served in the top job at the Boise Police Department since July 2020, following a 20-year career with the Portland Police Bureau, where he rose to the rank of deputy chief.

Chuck Peterson, Lee’s attorney, said Rush’s claims were “completely untrue” and he did not expect his client to pay damages as a result. The city declined to comment.

Details of the tort claim are presumed blocked

On October 12, Rush was tasked with organizing a briefing, where a number of trainees, civilians, Lee and Deputy Chief Tammany Brooks were present, the claim said. Lee began talking about an incident the week before, when an officer used a lateral vascular neck restraint — a type of neck hold that was suspended from use within the department in June 2020 — to control a suspicious.

Most commonly known as a “sleep hold”, an officer deliberately puts pressure on a person’s carotid artery to cut off blood flow, which can cause a suspect to temporarily lose consciousness.

The tort suit alleged that Lee then told Rush to come see him. Lee didn’t warn Rush, the claim goes, or tell Rush he was going to “get his hands on him.” Moreover, Lee did not ask permission to do so, according to the claim.

“As soon as Sgt. Rush arrived at the front of the briefing room, Chief Lee grabbed the back of Sgt. Rush’s neck and forced him to the ground,” according to the tort claim.

Lee then held his neck and physically moved Rush around the briefing room by his neck, according to the allegation. Meanwhile, Rush grabbed one of Lee’s arms to hold onto because he “had been forced to bend over for so long.”

Lee asked Rush to “try to get up” as Lee still held him by the neck, according to the claim. Lee eventually released the hold, allowing Rush to get up, according to the claim.

Rush declined to comment. It’s unclear from the claim whether the maneuver used on Rush was the berth hold he discussed, or whether restraint is an option Boise officers can use again. Boise police spokesman Haley Williams did not immediately respond to a question about the status of the technique.

Lee then punched Rush in the forehead, simultaneously forcing him to the ground, according to the allegation. Lee allegedly did so without permission or warning.

“Sergeant. Rush’s neck hypertensed backwards and audibly cracked,” according to the claim. “Whatever physical strike Chief Lee used, it was a quick, hard, quick move that forced Sgt. Dash backwards and towards the ground.

After the alleged incident, the claim states that Rush returned to his seat in the briefing room and listened to Lee continue to speak.

Lee turned to Rush as he spoke – in front of the entire Boise police patrol – and said, “What are you going to do now, fill out an SD1?” according to claim. An SD1 is a form completed by officers when injured on the job.

Boise investigation ‘suppressed’, allegation claims

Over the course of five months, Rush and his attorney exchanged emails with the Boise Human Resources department to initiate an investigation into the incident, according to a timeline cited in the complaint.

On Oct. 18, a member of Boise Police Command staff reported the issue to human resources, prompting an investigation, the statement said.

After a few unsuccessful attempts to arrange an interview, Hallam received an email from the Boise Legal Department stating that there was “no ongoing HR investigation into an incident involving Chief Lee and Sgt. Rush” , according to the assertion.

After months of emails, Hallam received a final response from another member of the city’s legal department on Feb. 28, alleging that the Bureau of Home Affairs investigation into Lee has been suspended pending the completion of the criminal investigation.

“Sergeant. Rush does not mean this notice of claim lightly,” Hallam wrote in the claim. “Indeed, he gave the city every chance to solve this problem outside of this legal route.”

A member of the Boise Police Command staff also reported the alleged incident to Idaho State Police. Unrelated to the tort complaint, Clearwater County District Attorney E. Clayne Tyler told the Statesman by phone that the office is overseeing a separate investigation into the allegations. The Idaho State Police is assisting in the investigation.

“The Ada County District Attorney’s Office referred the case to us because they were concerned about the appearance of a conflict,” Tyler said.

Chef Lee ‘singular’ Rush out, claims allege

Rush has been in charge of the K-9 unit for more than six years, according to the complaint. He thinks “Lee chose him” due to differing opinions on how to handle the unit.

According to the complaint, Boise police K-9s are trained to “bite and hold.” In practice, the dog bites the suspect and does not let go until his master arrives. Rush credits the practice as the reason the unit has a 95% surrender rate – the percentage of suspects who surrender in incidents using the technique.

“The BPD K-9 unit is very proud of the way the unit operates and its success as a unit,” the statement read.

But Lee is a proponent of the “bark and hold back” program, the claim goes. With “bark and hold”, a dog will only bite suspects if they don’t surrender. According to the claim, dogs and officers should be retrained to use the bark and grab technique, or the unit would “more likely” need new dogs.

The couple were due to meet at the end of October to discuss the program.

Rush is still an employee of the department as of Friday, Williams told the Statesman via text message.

This story was originally published April 22, 2022 7:19 p.m.

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Alex Brizee covers breaking news and crime for the Idaho statesman. Originally from Miami and a graduate of the University of Idaho, she has lived all over the United States. Go Vandals! In her spare time, she enjoys pad Thai, cuddling with her dog, and strong coffee.
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