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Prosecutor says police were justified in shooting of Star man, family says otherwise

The Ada County Sheriff's Office released Tuesday the officer who shot and killed Jeremy Banach in Star last summer was justified in doing so.

STAR, Idaho — The Ada County Sheriff's Office (ACSO) announced on Tuesday that a prosecutor found the officer who shot and killed Jeremy Banach in Star last summer was justified in doing so -- but the family has filed a tort claim, saying that the decision to open fire on the man was unnecessary.

On June 15, 2022, Banach, 39, was pronounced dead near the intersection of 1st and Main streets in Star after being shot by police in the early morning. Last week, Valley County Prosecutor Brian Naugle determined Star Police Officer Jason Woodcook was justified in shooting Banach. Naugle reviewed findings from the Critical Incident Task Force investigation, led by the Boise Police Department. (Ada County had to conflict the Critical Incident Task Force investigation review out to another county prosecutor, as is standard in these cases.) 

ASCO said that Banach was intoxicated on fentanyl and methamphetamine at the time of the shooting, stole a gun from a family member and then later pointed the gun at officers. Police said Banach ignored multiple attempts to ask him to drop the gun.  

ASCO said officers watched Banach "raise a gun towards the back of his head" and determined he "was in the process of aiming to fire a round over his shoulder at the detectives." Officer Woodcook fired five rounds at Banach in total, killing Banach.

Warning: Some viewers may consider this video to be graphic.

The Banach family filed a tort claim on Aug. 12 of last year. They claimed that Banach had shown up at their home and was asked to leave. The family says he refused to leave and was high, so they called the police in order to trespass Banach and get him the help he needed for his drug addiction. 

ACSO says Banach eventually agreed to leave the property after they asked him to multiple times, and they noticed he put the gun in his waistband when he was asked to leave the home. 

The tort claim said police never notified the family that Banach had a gun when he left. If the family had known he was armed and high, they said in the tort claim, they wouldn't have let him go.

After Banach left the home and officers told the family he was armed, Banach's father informed responding officers that Banach could have been carrying a gun stolen from the father the day prior to this incident. 

Once they received that information, officers decided to try to track Banach down, as they said they had reason to believe he was a danger to the public and was committing a felony by possessing a stolen firearm.

The family's tort claim said Banach had the gun wrapped under his sweatshirt at the time officers confronted him again, and when he removed the sweatshirt, police shot him. ASCO claims he pointed the weapon at officers. 

The family believes the officers who shot him were negligent, and that they violated Banach's Fourth Amendment Rights.

"Officers failed to use any non-lethal use of force tactics to subdue Jeremy," the claim said.

The family is requesting monetary relief for emotional damages and distress they've received as a result of the incident.

The Banach family released the following statement to KTVB on Tuesday evening:

Our family is devastated by the fact that the Ada county sheriff's office has no compassion for families in our situation. The fact that we didn't receive this report from Ada County prior to the media release shows a lack of compassion and concern for anyone other than themselves. 

It Is our contention that had the 6 deputies that responded to our home had acted according to ACSO policies and procedures with the preservation of life being their priority when faced with our son who was high which they had acknowledged and had threatened them to the point that they were so concerned that they aimed 2 AR15s at his back as he walked away for  260' from our home.

Why were they not concerned for public safety at that point? What changed the fact that a gun was reported stolen by us then made him a danger to the public when they had already told him "He was free to go?" Experienced law Enforcement should be perceptive enough to know that a person high on fentanyl with a weapon having threatened law enforcement should not have been told "they were free to go". 

They should have foreseen by allowing him to leave would enevitably placed [sic.] law enforcement and the public in danger. As mentioned before, their fear for themselves should have been translated to concern for the public long before the incident occurred. The initial call for help to Star Police was trying to secure court mandated detox and rehabilitation not murder our son.

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