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Ex-Caldwell cop to face trial Monday morning

Court documents show the U.S. Attorney's Office will argue that Hoadley had a pattern of retaliative and abusive use of force.

BOISE, Idaho — A former high-ranking lieutenant with the Caldwell Police Department will face a federal jury Monday morning. After an investigation by the FBI, a federal grand jury indicted him on four felony counts.

7-investigates' Morgan Romero spoke to a former U.S. Attorney ahead of the trial about what to expect in a civil rights case that involves prosecuting law enforcement officers.

Wendy Olson, a former U.S. Attorney for the District of Idaho and a nearly 25-year veteran of the Department of Justice, said the last time a law enforcement officer was federally tried for excessive force or civil rights violations in Idaho was in 2004, but that officer was acquitted. 

Olson is now a private attorney practicing in Boise, but she still observes from afar while her former office takes on the high-profile civil rights case against a former high-ranking cop.

TRIAL UPDATES: Trial for former Caldwell officer underway in federal court in Boise

Earlier this year, Joseph Hoadley was fired from his job as a Caldwell Police Lieutenant. He is facing four federal felony charges: deprivation of rights under color of law; destruction, alteration or falsification of records in federal investigations; tampering with a witness by harassment; and tampering with documents.

Court documents show the U.S. Attorney's Office will argue that Hoadley had a pattern of retaliative and abusive use of force.

"Oftentimes, those situations are rapidly evolving, and police officers have to make split-second judgments, it's difficult to prove that a use of force was intentionally more than was necessary," Olson said. "The police officers do have a fair amount of discretion and leeway in those rapidly evolving circumstances. What the government has to prove is that the police officer knew - that Mr. Hoadley knew - that in that circumstance he was using more force than was necessary."

According to the Pew Research Center, the federal government has a pretty high conviction rate, whether in trials or through guilty pleas. However, Wendy said the cases involving police misconduct do not fit well into that statistic since those cases are harder to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. 

"Every person has a right under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution not to have an unreasonable seizure. And when police officers use more force than is necessary against a person that they're taking into custody, or they have contact with, that's a violation of the fourth amendment," Olson said. "So here, the charge is that the officer willfully used more force than was necessary, that he knew the force he was using was not necessary to a law enforcement purpose."

Hoadley is accused of hitting a man he was arresting in 2017 and writing a false report about the incident.

"Traditionally, that has been a very difficult charge to prove, because typically people were willing to give police officers sort of the benefit of the doubt. I think that's lessened a little bit over the last 10 or so years, and particularly when we've seen - as potential jurors and community members - video of other police officers in other places using more force than is necessary," Olson said. "So that's more helpful, I think, to the government's case here, and is an obstacle now for Mr. Hoadley to overcome as he faces a jury."

Olson believes the government is planning to prove Hoadley knew what he did was wrong and tried to cover it up through the other charges filed against him.

This month, the court also granted the government permission to introduce evidence that shows Hoadley used excessive force on other occasions to further support its case.

"I think it's a stronger case than many of these cases are when you just look at what the charges are. But of course, we have to see what people will say in court," Olson said.

Olson also listed the anticipated order of operations in the case.

"It will begin with jury selection, which is likely to take about half of a day. And then right after lunch on Monday, I anticipate that there will be opening statements first by the government, and then likely by the defendant," Olson said. "I think it's hard to say how long it will go."

As the defense and government prepare for trial, the Caldwell Police Department is starting to rebuild under new leadership. Both the chief and captain left during the FBI investigation, and a new chief started this summer.

7 Investigates sat down with the new Caldwell Police Chief to learn how he is restoring trust and accountability in the department, and moving the agency into the future amid this scandal.

"When there's internal conflict, then it bleeds out to the community, and then the community suffers," Caldwell Police Chief Rex Ingram said. "Since I took over in June or July, [the FBI] feel like there's a relationship now where before it was kind of adversarial. And they weren't really getting the information that they needed to be getting from the administration."

Ingram's first order of business when he took over was one-on-ones with employees. He learned officers were the ones who went to the FBI to report allegations of misconduct.

"It was people within the walls of this police department that actually went to the feds and said 'hey, this is what's going on, please come and investigate this stuff because it's going nowhere, we feel like we're not getting any traction here' and so I want to commend them. I want to say how brave they are and how much courage these people have."

While Ingram said the department did a lot of good work – like dramatically cutting crime and making Caldwell safer – it came at a cost.

"There's something called noble cause corruption, you know, where you have a noble cause, and where the ends justify the means of getting there. And I think that over the last 20 years, this type of behavior that started off with a very noble cause turned into a corrupted, you know, 'I don't care about how we get to that point, someone's gonna go to jail'."

Ingram says he's working on improving systems and controls within the department to prevent any potential misconduct. Since taking the job, he has worked hard to rebuild relationships with people inside the walls of the Caldwell Police Department.

"Really what I want to highlight is the good work that these men and women do, not only in the field, but the civilian staff here, the professional staff that are behind the scenes, they're the ones getting all the phone calls all day long in the office because officers are in the field," Ingram said.

He said he has worked to rebuild relationships with other law enforcement agencies in the valley and with the community.

"I think there's a lot of folks that may have lost trust with us, they were on the fence of trusting the police or not trusting the police. What I want the community to see is the fact that we are prioritizing them right now. And despite all the things that are going on, they need to know that they can trust the police department and that we are truly believing in taking care of the community."

Ingram brought in an independent internal affairs investigator to look into potential police policy violations, as a way of restoring trust and credibility. Ingram is also changing the department's core values.

On the walls in the building, he first got rid of "take care of us" -- which was above the line "take care of the community" -- and he got rid of the last value -- "address the evil". He wants the department to come up with its own new core values.

Ingram also disbanded the Street Crimes Unit, which sources say the FBI mostly focused on in its investigation, and which Hoadley used to lead, because of a lack of patrol resources.

Ingram is reorganizing and restructuring the agency and will rename the specialized team once it is staffed since it carries a negative connotation.

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