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Ex-Caldwell cop trial: Prosecutors say he was supposed to protect, and did the opposite

Joseph Hoadley, a former Caldwell cop, stood trial on Monday for his four felony federal charges.

BOISE, Idaho — U.S prosecutors told a 14-person jury on Monday that Joseph Alan Hoadley, the ex-Caldwell cop charged with four felony federal counts, “was supposed to protect the citizens of Caldwell.” Instead, they said, “he assaulted one.”

The federal government claims the former high-ranking lieutenant hit a man and then falsified a report on the alleged incident, as well as tried to dissuade another officer from reporting to the FBI.

Hoadley was first indicted by a grand jury in the spring on federal felony charges of deprivation of rights under the color of the law and destruction, alteration or falsification of records in a federal investigation. He was later indicted on two other charges: tampering with a witness by harassment and tampering with documents.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys told the jury that Hoadley entered a house in 2017 after they got a 911 hang-up call, and smelled marijuana within the residence. Hoadley’s defense attorney, Chuck Peterson, confirmed that the officers found drugs within the house and detained a man known as “B.H.” for possessing nearly six pounds of marijuana.

Prosecutors said that Hoadley and B.H got into a verbal argument where the man told Hoadley he “wasn’t being a good cop,” so Hoadley struck him in the head. Afterward, prosecutors claim, Hoadley turned to his fellow officer, Eddie Ibarra, and asked him if his body camera was on.

“No,” prosecutors said Ibarra told Hoadley. Then, they claim, Hoadley replied, “good.”

Hoadley was not wearing a body camera at the time. Another officer who responded to the call, Amber Walker, was wearing one. During the trial, attorneys said they planned to show a video of the events inside the home while officers were responding, as well as after the aftermath of the altercation between B.H. and Hoadley. The video did not capture the altercation itself, the defense and prosecution said.

However, Peterson said that Hoadley felt the detainee “tense up” multiple times and believed he was going to escape, so Hoadley used “reasonable force under the circumstances” to detain him. B.H. yelled out that Hoadley punched him, Peterson said, but this wasn’t true.

When Hoadley was being investigated, and then was later charged, the government said his superiors ordered him to turn in his work-issued laptop and phone – but Hoadley, on April 20 of this year, at 8:11 p.m., wiped the laptop – and a video of him allegedly punching another man from 2016 that he showed fellow officers four years prior, was nowhere to be found, prosecutors said.

Ibarra later resigned after prosecutors say he was pushed out by his superior, Hoadley, for reporting the alleged incident he witnessed. The defense argues that Ibarra lied and that is why he was asked to resign.

In court, the prosecution confirmed that the FBI was also looking into another former officer, Ryan Bendawald. KTVB obtained his letter of resignation from the fall of 2021. His resignation was effective November 7, 2021, amid this ongoing FBI investigation.

First witness testifies on first day of trial

The prosecution called its first witness, Caldwell Police Det. Joseph Cardwell. 

Hoadley was his supervisor in the investigations division.

This witness' testimony supports the prosecution's claim that Hoadley showed other officers video of him punching arrestees in the head, and then bragging about it.

In its motion to admit "other bad acts evidence" under Rule 404(b) filed in mid-August, the government explained that the FBI received multiple whistleblower reports of abusive police practices within CPD, including allegations that Hoadley punched handcuffed detainees in the head and bragged to fellow officers about it.

This, in part, spurred the FBI's investigation into Hoadley and other CPD officers for allegedly willfully depriving Caldwell residents of their constitutional rights.

"In addition to voicing displeasure with being the subject of the federal investigation, Defendant Hoadley proactively obstructed it," the government argued in their court filings.

On the stand on Monday, Cardwell said that at a gang conference in 2016, Hoadley and other officers were watching a video of Hoadley punching a man who was detained and appeared to be handcuffed. The officers were laughing, so Cardwell asked to see the video. He says they hesitated to show him.

"I was shocked and kind of embarrassed because we're officers of the law and to me, to have that on your phone, I didn't want to be any part of that," Cardwell said on the stand.

"The atmosphere around CPD is kind of like a high school, unfortunately," Cardwell said through tears. When Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Horwitz asked if this has been hard for him, Cardwell said, emotionally: "It's been super hard on my family and me."

Cardwell says he told the Caldwell Police Captain and Chief what he saw, but he, personally, did not obtain the video.

He then filed a written formal complaint with the FBI in 2020, more than four years after he said he saw the video. Another officer, Josh Gregory, accompanied him to file this complaint.

Peterson also questioned Cardwell in a cross-examination. He first inquired about how the Street Crimes Unit played a large role in cleaning up the streets of Caldwell, reducing gang violence and making the streets safer. Peterson pointed out that this type of policing is more proactive than reactive.

When asked why he didn't report seeing this video right after he saw it, Cardwell responded that he had been with CPD a long time and had reported a separate incident involving a different officer to a former chief Chris Allgood, who is now a Caldwell City Councilman. Cardwell says nothing came of that report then. 

Given that experience, he says he was "scared to death" of turning in Hoadley - a high-ranking official who had connections with city and county leaders - for the video he witnessed in 2016, and that is why it took him four years to bring this complaint to the FBI. 

"I'm sorry it took so long to get here," Cardwell said to the jury.

Cardwell felt he was a "little person compared to a giant", because of his experience reporting violations in the past, he says he learned he could not to go to higher-ups for fear of retaliation. 

Cardwell began recording phone calls with members of the CPD, even in violation of policy. He added that people within CPD have "come after him" and threatened to demote him for coming forward.

When asked if he was looking to "take down lieutenant Hoadley" when he saw this video, Cardwell said he was not.

Court recessed for the day a little after 5 p.m. on Monday. It will reconvene Tuesday at 8:45 a.m.

LIVE BLOG FROM DAY 1: Trial for former Caldwell officer underway in federal court in Boise

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