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Prosecutor: Boise Police officers justified in killing woman holding BB gun

Amber Lea Dewitt, 33, was shot after pointing the BB gun at an officer in October.
Credit: KTVB file

BOISE, Idaho — Two Boise Police officers who shot and killed a woman holding a BB gun last fall have been cleared of wrongdoing. 

The Blaine County Prosecutor's Office announced Wednesday that the officers were justified in shooting 33-year-old Amber Lea Dewitt during an encounter on Clover Drive on Oct. 20.

Police were first called out to the area for a report of a woman banging on doors looking for someone who had stolen from her. They found Dewitt sitting in her car in the middle of the road.

Boise Police say  Dewitt was "overly nervous, trembling and acting unusual," and could not produce identification. Officers saw both a loaded syringe and an empty holster inside the vehicle. When asked about the holster, the woman mentioned that her nephew had recently gotten a BB, but did not answer questions about where that gun was. 

RELATED: Investigators: Woman shot by Boise police pointed BB gun at officers

During the encounter, the officer on the passenger side of Dewitt's car saw her reach under the seat and a black-and-teal gun fell to the floor. Dewitt picked the gun up and pointed it at an officer on the driver's side. 

"The officer standing at the window closest to Dewitt saw the weapon pointed at him from approximately 12-18 inches away," Boise Police wrote in a press release. "All the officers involved believed the weapon was a handgun and that she was going to shoot the officers near the driver’s side of the vehicle."

Credit: Boise Police
Photo of the BB gun police say Dewitt pointed at them (top) and a photo provided by police of a similar-looking 9mm handgun (bottom).

The officer on the passenger side fired at Dewitt three times, while a backup officer on the driver's side fired five times. The officer nearest Dewitt on the driver's side did not have time to react, according to the department.

Dewitt was struck by multiple bullets, and died at the scene. In the aftermath of the shooting, investigators discovered that the gun she had been holding was a BB gun.

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“As with any critical incident, this was a very difficult situation for everyone involved. Our hearts go out to all, including the deceased’s family and the officers who were involved,” said Deputy Chief Ron Winegar in a statement. “Our officers have hundreds of peaceful interactions with citizens every day.  Situations involving the use of deadly force are extremely rare and we are grateful that our officers were not physically injured in this incident.”

In toxicology tests, Dewitt tested positive for methamphetamine, amphetamines, methadone and EPPP, or methadone metabolites. Inside her purse, officers found two prescription bottles, a mostly empty Methadone bottle, 15 grams of a crystalline substance in a container and a tube of Daisy BBs.

Police say Dewitt suffered from depression and had previously talked about "suicide by cop." 

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During their follow-up investigation on scene, officers found multiple nearby vehicles on Clover Drive with broken or shattered windows, with BBs on the ground nearby. People who knew Dewitt told detectives that she planned to shoot out vehicle windows as she searched for someone who had stolen her items. 

The Critical Incident Task Force, led by the Meridian Police Department, reviewed body camera video and investigated the shooting before forwarding their investigation on to the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney.

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