BOISE, Idaho — A former Caldwell officer testified on Tuesday that he witnessed his colleague, ex-Caldwell cop Joseph Hoadley, strike a man in the head and fall to the ground after detaining him for marijuana possession back in 2017.
Hoadley, a former high-ranking lieutenant, is facing four felony charges: deprivation of rights under the color of the law; destruction, alteration or falsification of records in a federal investigation; tampering with a witness by harassment; and tampering with documents. He pleaded not guilty to all four counts in August.
These charges stem from a years-long FBI investigation into current and former Caldwell police officers. Another former officer who other officers say Hoadley was close to, Ryan Bendawald, is also under investigation by the FBI.
Eddie Ibarra, the former officer who responded to the call in 2017, escorted the alleged victim outside with Hoadley.
He testified that Hoadley led the man outside, that he heard the words, "Stop resisting," and heard a bang while watching Hoadley allegedly punch the man in the head.
Hoadley later wrote a report on the incident, which Ibarra testified was not what he observed that day.
Ibarra tried to report the incident of Hoadley allegedly hitting the man in the head while he was handcuffed -- but his supervisor at the time, Capt. Devin Riley, told him Ibarra "was trying to ruin (Hoadley's) career" and to leave it alone.
"It was wrong," Ibarra said. "I'm sorry, my job is to protect the people, not hit them when they're handcuffed."
Ibarra went on: "They told me to leave it alone and I felt like I was going to be retaliated against if I continued."
He later resigned after he said three people -- including Hoadley and Riley -- started investigating him for alleged excessive force, in what he believes was a form of retaliation. He says he began getting "treated differently" within the department.
Several other officers resigned along with Ibarra amid the FBI investigation into Caldwell PD.
Other witnesses came forward in court Tuesday to discuss the ins and outs of the police department -- reporting misconduct, not reporting misconduct, disciplinary actions and what actually qualifies as excessive force.
One former Caldwell PD sergeant, Josh Gregory, solemnly cried on the witness stand on Tuesday as he recalled the joy of being a police officer in the city of Caldwell -- until he left the force amid what he called "misconduct within the department."
Gregory said that he helped his colleague Joseph Cardwell, a Caldwell detective who testified Monday in court, report an alleged excessive force incident by Hoadley to the FBI nearly four years after it took place.
Gregory said he didn't believe it would be hard for him to be in court on Tuesday, but stated through tears that it was much harder than he thought it would be. Gregory says he reported some other incidents of perceived misconduct involving other officers to his supervisor, Capt. Riley, but nothing was done, Gregory said. So, he reported his concerns to the FBI in late 2020/early 2021 and promptly left the department.
Doug Winfield, a Caldwell PD lieutenant who oversees the patrol division, also testified Tuesday. He said that the former chief of police, Frank Wyant, had not logged on to the police system where use of force incidents were documented in nearly two years. Wyant had the final say in determining whether force was justifiable or not, and whether incidents called for any disciplinary action if they constituted excessive force.
In the 2017 incident, United States prosecutors argue Hoadley willfully used excessive force against the man he was detaining for marijuana possession and trafficking, and then omitted parts of the alleged incident in his police report.
The alleged victim known as "B.H" testified in court Tuesday against Hoadley. He said as Hoadley was escorting him out of the house in handcuffs, he told Hoadley he wasn't doing a very good job of being a police officer. Hoadley then said something to him, B.H responded, they stopped walking, and then Hoadley allegedly hit him in the chin, causing him to fall to the ground.
B.H never filed a complaint with the police department, according to Peterson.
Body camera footage of the police response was played in court from former officer Amber Walker. It showed Hoadley detaining B.H for the marijuana possession and he can be heard saying, "you've done this before" and "I've heard of you doing this to other people".
Hoadley was not wearing a body camera at the time of the alleged altercation.
Walker's body camera did not capture the altercation between Hoadley and B.H outside. But it depicted the minutes afterward when she approached Hoadley, B.H. and Ibarra on the sidewalk. Her video showed Hoadley holding B.H down on the ground where B.H is yelling, "You punched me in the face! (The other officer) watched it!"
Hoadley can be heard saying, "You were trying to escape," and B.H responding, "I wasn't trying to escape, you just punched me."
B.H goes on to say, "This is a violation of my rights," and Hoadley responds, "You're in violation of the law."
Hoadley's defense, Chuck Peterson, is trying to prove to the jury that Hoadley's alleged actions were reasonable under the law, which states that officers can use the force they determine to be necessary as long as it's reasonable in that scenario. Peterson claims it was actually B.H who escalated the situation.
"B.H. was escalating his resistance as he was removed from the house to await a search warrant and to de-escalate his complaints that officers had no right to be in the house without a warrant. That resistance escalated and the person who stood to be injured was Joseph Hoadley. He was the officer who felt B.H. tense up and believed force was necessary. He had to make the call, and B.H. was not injured," Peterson wrote in his trial brief.
More charges came later in 2022 that accused Hoadley of tampering with evidence by wiping his laptop and cell phone, to which Hoadley pleaded not guilty to in August.
US prosecutors also called a use-of-force expert, who previously put on a conference for Caldwell PD in 2014. Howard Webb, the expert, testified that there are different levels of force officers can use against a "threat" or a detainee. It depends how much the person resists and how much an officer's life is in danger, he said.
For example, "a level four" on the spectrum incudes striking someone in the skull or the groin to incapacitate them completely, according to Webb's presentation -- something that is only used in a matter of defending one's life, or when an officer gets their gun pulled by a suspect. "Level one" is similar to a low-intensity slap, for comparison, Webb said.
Webb stated he could not think of a scenario in which he advised an officer to strike someone in the head while they were in handcuffs, or if officers felt them "tense up" like Hoadley wrote in his report, shown in filings by the prosecution. Certain policies from Caldwell PD also prohibit officers from using force as punishment.
Day 3 of the trial begins tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.
KTVB reporters Alexandra Duggan and Morgan Romero have been live-tweeting from the courtroom.
Follow Alexandra Duggan: @dugganreports
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