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Boise Office of Police Accountability exonerates most officers in three newly released reports

The Boise OPA mostly exonerated the officers for their actions in the Boise Towne Square Mall shooting, besides finding a technical violation for body cameras.

BOISE, Idaho — Three reports from the Boise Office of Police Accountability (OPA) were released Wednesday, mostly exonerating the officers who discharged their guns in a 2019 incident, a 2021 incident and the Boise Towne Square Mall shooting.

Fall of 2019

OPA said in the report that in October of 2019, Boise Police (BPD) responded to a call of a suspicious person knocking on doors and taking items from their property. Police saw the suspected person sitting in a car, so three officers approached.

The report said one officer saw an empty holster in the person's car and asked them about it -- in which they replied they didn't own a gun, but it belonged to a relative who recently bought a BB gun. According to the report, police saw the person in the car reach down and grab a handgun, where they pointed it at one officer. The two officers nearby both fired their weapons at the person pointing the gun and the other officer took cover. 

Officers later determined the person was dead, the report said.

During further investigation by the Critical Incident Task Force, the gun was determined to have been a BB gun.

"The size, color, and physical design of the BB gun were strikingly similar to an actual 9mm firearm that is currently manufactured and sold to the public. Photos depicting the similarity of the involved BB gun and the 9mm firearm that is strikingly similar were included in the Critical Incident Task Force investigation of this shooting," the OPA report said.

OPA Director Jesus Jara concluded that the internal review and outside investigation was thorough, warrants no further investigation and that the officers involved in the shooting "acted in a manner consistent with BPD's policy and procedures governing the use of deadly force," which permits an officer to use deadly force in defense of their life or life of someone else.

Summer of 2021

Two BPD officers responded to a person camping on unoccupied property in the summer of 2021, the report said. When they arrived, they noticed a person covered by a piece of cardboard. The report said when officers removed the cardboard, the person pointed a large handgun at police -- they told him to drop the weapon but the person refused, the report said.

"During a brief lull in the gunfire, the officers repeatedly told the subject to drop their weapon. The subject told them 'No,' cursed at them several times, and did not comply with their commands to lower the weapon. The officers engaged the subject again and fired their handguns," the report said.

The person died after being struck multiple times.

"The officers believed, based on the totality of the subject’s actions, that their lives were in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury and discharged their weapons at the subject," the report said.

Both officers were exonerated in their use of deadly force in the shooting.

Boise Mall shooting

On Oct. 25, 2021, Jacob Bergquist walked into the Boise Towne Square Mall carrying a backpack with loaded guns, police said previously.

Bergquist shot and killed two people -- Jo Acker, a security officer, and Roberto Padilla Arguelles, a customer at the mall.

BPD officers responded to to the shooting with a description of Bergquist, named "the subject" in the OPA reports. They spotted him near Dave & Busters, near the mall, and confront him -- in which the report said he reached into his backpack and pulled out a handgun, firing at the officers around 16 times.

Officers fired their guns and tried firing again, but the magazine from one of the guns became separated from the weapon. Bergquist began to run away, so police tried to strike him with their car to prevent him from shooting more people, the report said. Bergquist then ran behind a dumpster and shot himself in the head. Officers administered first aid, but Bergquist later died at the hospital.

One officer was exonerated in the matter of use of deadly force. The same officer also violated policy by failing to activate his body camera.

A different officer in the report failed to wear and activate his body camera, but deliberately turned on another officer's body camera to memorialize the actions taken, the report said.

The reports can be found here.

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