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Former Caldwell officer testifies in his federal civil rights trial

Joseph Hoadley is charged with four felonies. He testified for about four hours before the defense rested. Closing arguments are set for Friday morning.
Credit: KTVB
Former Caldwell police officer Joey Hoadley leaves the courthouse after the first day of his trial.

BOISE, Idaho — Former Caldwell Police Lt. Joseph "Joey" Hoadley on Thursday said he never punched the man he took into custody on March 30, 2017, and didn't use force to punish, disputing the allegation that led to federal civil rights charges against him.

An indictment returned in August charges Hoadley with four felonies under federal law: deprivation of rights under color of law; destruction, alteration or falsification of records in a federal investigation; tampering with a witness by harassment; and tampering with documents.

Closing arguments are set to begin Friday morning in U.S. District Court at the federal building in Boise. After that, the case goes to the 14-member jury.

On Thursday, Hoadley testified for a total of about four hours on the fourth day of his trial in U.S. District Court in Boise. His attorney, Charles Peterson, questioned him for about three hours.

Hoadley was part of the Caldwell Police Department's Street Crime Unit when it was formed in the early 2000s, a time Hoadley said a lot of shootings and crime were happening in Caldwell. Hoadley said the unit took a proactive approach to policing.

"It's going to a 911 disconnect and instead of knocking and leaving, it's looking for additional clues. That's what policing is. I want to stop crime before it happens. I don't want to write a report after it happens," Hoadley said.

That approach, Hoadley said, helped reduce Caldwell's crime level to its lowest since the 1970s. Hoadley also detailed the training on use of force, saying officers went through that training every year.

RELATED: What to know about the ex-Caldwell cop facing trial next week

Regarding the 2017 incident in which federal prosecutors allege he struck the detainee, identified as "BH," Hoadley testified that he handcuffed the man after another officer advised that there was a large amount of marijuana in his basement. BH, Hoadley said, was argumentative and escalating the situation, so he took BH outside to have a conversation with him in a police car. They had a verbal exchange about BH selling drugs outside his mother's home, Hoadley said.

When Peterson asked Hoadley what happened during the conversation, he said he was holding BH's left arm with one hand, and BH's wallet and ID in another.

"As we walk down the steps, an argument is occurring. He pulls away from me one time and I pulled him back toward me and I said, 'no you're not running,'" Hoadley testified, adding that BH was tensing up, possibly in "flight or fight" mode, as another officer, Eddie Ibarra, approached. "The second time he pulled away from me, it was a full-on break free/try to run. I know from my experience of 21 years as a police officer my best option was to take him to the ground."

When Peterson asked Hoadley if he punched BH in the face, Hoadley replied, "absolutely not," and added that he used the least amount of force necessary to prevent BH from escaping.

"My only thought was to stop him from getting away from us," Hoadley said.

When asked if BH was ever charged with attempting to escape, Hoadley said no. When asked if BH was ever charged with resisting, Hoadley said he didn't believe so, then explained that BH was turned over to the city-county narcotics unit and that charges are sometimes held back "based on cooperation."

It's Caldwell Police Department policy to document use of force incidents in a system called IAPro. When asked if that meant every instance of physical touch from an officer had to be documented, Hoadley said no.

"We make a vast amount of contacts throughout the day," Hoadley said. "We made a command decision as to what tings needed to be reported through IAPro."

Hoadley said he didn't enter the incident involving BH into that system because he didn't think the use of force was of the level that needed to be documented.

"It's not in there because it didn't happen," Hoadley said after the prosecutor asked if "unconstitutional use of force" was documented.

Hoadley said he agreed that every citizen and, he added, non-citizen, has a constitutional right to be free from excessive force. 

On the charge of tampering with a witness, Hoadley said he did not intend to harass, intimidate or threaten the career of Chad Hessman, an officer who testified on Wednesday that he was essentially ambushed by Hoadley and other officers about his conversations with FBI agents who were investigating Hoadley and Sgt. Ryan Bendawald. Hoadley testified that he told Hessman that the more people who were honest with the FBI the better.

During Thursday's testimony, Hoadley did acknowledge that he had become frustrated with the FBI investigation and "felt abandoned" by the Caldwell Police Department, a frustration he expressed in an August 2021 email to his supervisor that said, in part, that if the police department or other city offices, including HR, didn't do anything to put an end to the investigation, "I will take a drive over there and put a stop to it myself."

Hoadley testified that wasn't intended as a threat, rather to "get some answers" in the wake of what he said were rumors, questioning, "the limiting of what we can do," and word getting out about investigations.

"We had gang members and drug dealers on the streets saying they had been talking to the FBI and saying I'm going to prison," Hoadley said. "Going to work was really painful. I was starting to not like my job as a law enforcement officer."

Hoadley testified that in 2021, he met with human resources on two occasions to ask about the resignation process. He was placed on paid leave in January of 2022, the same month he said the police chief notified him that federal agents were seeking a grand jury indictment. Hoadley was terminated on May 3.

Hoadley's trial is the first since 2004 of any Idaho officer charged in federal court with violating someone's constitutional rights. In the 2004 case and in a similar case in 2000, the officers were acquitted.

KTVB will be in court for Friday morning's closing arguments. Audio and video recording are not permitted in federal court, but as KTVB reporters have done the first four days of the trial, they will again be posting courtroom developments in a live blog via Twitter.

Blogs from the first four days of the trial are posted below:

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

DAY 2: Day 2 of trial for former Caldwell officer Joseph Hoadley

DAY 3: Trial of Joseph Hoadley Day 3 live blog

DAY 4: Trial of Caldwell ex-officer Hoadley Day 4 live blog

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