BOISE, Idaho — This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press.
A Boise Police officer has filed a tort claim with the city alleging that the department's chief severely injured the officer during a briefing. The incident is also under investigation by Idaho State Police.
The tort claim, obtained by the Idaho Press through a public records request, said that longtime officer of the Boise Police Department, Sgt. Kirk Rush, was injured by Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee during a team briefing. It also said Rush filed a complaint with the Human Resources department, and the department declined to investigate the incident.
The city did not put Lee on administrative leave after a pending criminal investigation into the matter, the Idaho Press previously reported. The city of Boise’s human resources handbook authorizes any city employee under investigation to be placed on administrative leave with pay.
Justin Corr, the city of Boise's public information officer, said in response to the claim, "The City of Boise received this tort claim, just as it receives hundreds of tort claims annually. It will be reviewed and processed in accordance with standard City process and procedure.”
State law requires that the agency involved in the claim to respond within three months. If the agency does not respond to or rejects the claim, then the person may sue the agency.
The claim said that it arises from “Lee’s willful and/or unprovoked physical aggression against Sgt. Kirk Rush on or about October 12, 2021.”
The claim specified that Lee’s alleged actions caused significant injuries to Rush, which resulted in multiple medical procedures and the surgical repair of Rush’s neck.
It also alleges that the city allegedly suppressed internal investigations into Lee’s actions.
Through multiple emails outlined in the claim, Rush’s legal counsel Guy Hallam requested an investigation from HR into Lee’s conduct, and it was opened. However, Hallam was later told in emails from the city’s legal department that there was no pending investigation into the matter from HR.
“I still stand by my initial response that there is no matter pending with HR,” a city attorney said in the claim.
The claim said Rush went into surgery on Jan. 27, where the repair included harvesting bone from his sternum to use as a bone graft for injured discs in his neck as well as emotional distress from the alleged incident.
“It is expected that Sgt. Rush will have issues associated with the neck injury for the rest of his life,” the claim said.
The injury came after an alleged incident in which the claim said Lee injured Rush in front of other BPD officers during a unit briefing, where the conversation trailed into topics about a neck restraint technique.
In the briefing, the claim said, Lee told the officer, “Hey Rush, get up here.”
Chuck Peterson, Lee's attorney, told the Idaho Statesman that Rush volunteered to be part of the demonstration. However, the claim said Sgt. Rush believed Chief Lee was ordering him to the front of the briefing room, rather than asking for a volunteer, to which he complied.
“Chief Lee grabbed the back of Sgt. Rush’s neck and forced him to the ground. Chief Lee did not warn Sgt. Rush that he was going to lay hands on him, nor did Chief Lee ask permission to do so. Sgt. Rush was unprepared for the force employed by Chief Lee. Chief Lee then proceeded to hold Sgt. Rush’s neck and physically moved Rush around the briefing room by the neck,” the claim said.
The claim alleges that when Lee let go of Rush and he turned away from Lee, he struck Rush in the forehead and forced him to the ground.
“Sgt. Rush knew that Chief Lee had injured him as soon as he heard and felt the snap in his neck,” the claim said, and alleged that Lee was condescending and mocked Rush after the incident.
The claim said the alleged incident did not occur as part of a formal training demonstration, as a briefing room is not a training environment.
"Participants in physical training are aware ahead of time what physical moves and physical training will be performed. Instead, Chief Lee utilized some unknown and unapproved physical maneuvers to injure and embarrass Sgt. Rush," the claim said.
The claim specified that there were interviews scheduled for an HR investigation with the HR compliance administrator, Sarah Martin, but the claim said those interviews were suddenly canceled and the investigation was “strangely” closed.
In addition, Hallam inquired about any office of internal affairs investigations, the claim said, but was told that the investigation may be suspended until the Idaho State Police concludes its criminal investigation. It is unclear if the city will be pursuing an OIA investigation.
This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press, read more on IdahoPress.com.
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