The CITF investigation into fatal home invasion/house fire case from last fall is finished

A prosecutor has determined two Ada County Sheriff’s deputies who shot at a man who broke into a stranger’s house last fall and set it on fire did not break any laws – and our internal investigation determined deputies Chris Matkin and Sage Hickam did not violate any ACSO policies.

Our investigators did find that Matkin, Hickam, and the all the other deputies involved in the violent confrontation with Pavel Florea the night of Sept. 27, 2017 showed the professionalism and courage of ACSO employees at their best, as they put themselves in significant danger in an attempt to save the people inside the burning home.

Twins Falls Prosecutor Grant Loebs reviewed the Ada County Critical Incident Task Force (CITF) report and found that the 35-year-old Florea committed numerous crimes —including burglary and aggravated assault — when he broke into a home in the 1500 block of Amity Road that night, pointed a shotgun at the deputies who responded to a 911 call for help from the homeowner, and then lit the house on fire with three other people inside.

Only one person inside the house survived. Three adults died as a result of that fire, including Florea.

The CITF, led by Boise Police, investigated the case for several months and are able to shed some light on the mystery of why Florea broke into the home of someone he had no connection with.

Investigators developed evidence Florea was a heavy methamphetamine user who got into disputes with several different people in the days and weeks leading up to the incident.

An autopsy revealed an extremely high level of meth in Florea’s system at the time of his death.

The investigation did not uncover a direct link between Florea and the people who lived at the Amity Road home but detectives did establish two theories — either that Florea may have seen a Facebook ad for a moving sale at the home and then tried to break in and steal items from inside, or mistook the house on the corner of Amity and Linder roads for a nearby home that had a history of drug activity.

It remains unclear why Florea pointed a shotgun at deputies Matkin and Hickam and threatened to kill them, if he shot at the deputies, or why he set the house on fire after deputies shot at him.

Investigators recovered the shotgun Florea was holding, but were not able to determine if had been fired that night. They did find evidence Florea stole it from an acquaintance a short time before Sept. 27.

Autopsy reports show that Florea died from acute carbon monoxide poisoning. His remains were badly damaged by the fire, but Ada County Coroner’s officials did find what appeared to be a gunshot wound to his foot, indicating our deputies likely hit Florea with at least one of the six rounds they fired that night.

Coroner’s officials ruled the manner of Florea’s death was a suicide. The fire reduced most of the home to ashes that night. Investigators determined some kind of accelerant, like gas, was used to start the fire. All evidence points to Florea starting the fire.

Hickam and Matkin were not injured in the incident. Deputy Hickam has been with the ACSO for 11 years. Deputy Matkin has been with the agency for 5 years.

The incident began around 10:30 p.m. Sept. 27 when a resident called 911 to report a prowler. That caller said she heard pounding at the door and could hear someone trying to break in, but didn’t know who it was.

Hickam and Matkin arrived moments later and found the man, holding a long gun, coming out of the home.

A verbal confrontation ensued. Deputies told the man to put the gun down but he refused. A short time later, deputies fired at the man.

He went back inside the home, said he was shot, and refused to come back out.

Deputies were in contact with the woman who called 911, who told them there were two other people in the house and none of them knew who the armed man was or why he broke in.

By 10:45 p.m., the house was on fire.

More deputies had arrived by that time. They broke out windows and tried to direct the residents out of the home.

Two of the adults – a man and a woman – inside were able to get out. The third, an elderly woman, was not.

Paramedics treated the two residents at the scene and transported them to the hospital.

One of the residents was flown to the Salt Lake City Burn Center, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Deputies who set up a perimeter around the home did not see any evidence Florea had been able to get out of the burning house. His remains were later found inside near where he was last seen.

Meridian and Kuna fire crews kept the blaze from spreading, but the home was a total loss.

The case was investigated by the CITF, which does an independent investigation of all uses of lethal force by law enforcement in Ada County.

For more information, check out the  complete CITF report.

Ada County Sheriff Steve Bartlett wants to thank Boise and Meridian Police; the Ada County Coroner’s Office; Meridian and Kuna fire departments; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms for all their help on such a complex and demanding case.

14 gang members charged with aggravated assault in connection with January prison brawl

Several members of the Sureno gang are charged with felony counts of aggravated assault and rioting in connection with a prison brawl earlier this year where they attacked members of the rival Norteno gang.

All gang members were prisoners at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution on Jan. 4 when a group of 12 Surenos and two members of a white pride gang began a sudden and coordinated attack against five Nortenos.

The 14 men charged in the case are accused of using their fists, legs and feet to attack the other inmates. In at least one circumstance, one of the attackers hit a victim with a microwave oven.

All five victims were transported to local hospitals for treatment of significant but non life-threatening injuries.

No IDOC employees were injured during the incident.

Ada County Sheriff’s Office investigators began working on the case that same day. They developed evidence indicating the attack was planned.

Detectives sent their findings to the Ad County Prosecutor’s Office, who filed criminal complaints against the Sureno gang members in early September.

The prisoners charged in connection with the attack are: Jacob Charles Miller, Jose Antonio Garcia Jr., Eduardo DeLeon, Michael Craig Smith, Gabriel Gomez-Luna, Luis Manuel Palomares Jr., Anthony Reed Dailey-Schmidt, Anthony M. Gonzales, Wyatt Michael Landon, Miguell Antonio Prieto, Christopher James Smith, Manuel Rodriguez, Steven Jacob Flora, and Tate Brogan France.

All 14 men were in court Wednesday for a preliminary hearing, which was held in a courtroom at Idaho’s Maximum Security Prison south of Boise.

The hearing has been delayed until Nov. 6 to give the different defense attorneys more time to work on their cases.

A trial date for all 14 men will be likely set during their next court hearing.

Boise man charged with drug delivery after getting Oxycodone pills in the mail

Ada County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested a 26-year-old Boise man just minutes after he got a delivery of Oxycodone pills in the mail Thursday.

Jacob R. Lassoff is charged with a felony count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

Detectives began the investigation in August and later developed evidence that Lassoff was getting Oxycodone sent to him by the mail from outside the United States.

Our detectives worked with U.S. Postal Inspectors on the case and intercepted a package, filled with 41 Oxycodone tablets, that was sent to Lassoff in Boise.

Detectives arrested Lassoff at a Boise-area post office Thursday afternoon after he picked up the package.

Investigators also found blank prescription forms which appear to be stolen from a Boise-area medical provider in his car.

Detectives interviewed Lassoff and then booked him into the Ada County Jail, where he was being held on a $25,000 bond on Friday afternoon.

The crime of possession with intent to deliver a narcotic like oxycodone is punishable by up to life in prison.

Deputies looking for whoever pushed a car into a ravine near Table Rock last month

Ada County detectives are seeking information on who pushed a red Ford Focus over a cliff and into a ravine near Table Rock late last month.

Screen Shot 2018-09-07 at 11.42.37 AM

Deputies began their investigation shortly around 2 a.m. Aug. 31 when a woman called Ada County dispatch to report that someone stole her car from the parking area near Table Rock.

The woman said she parked the car near the bottom gate just before midnight, closed the windows and locked the doors, and the walked up the hill with a friend to check out the view from the top of the plateau.

There were several other cars parked nearby at the time, and the women saw over a dozen people walk down the hill as they were walking up that night.

The woman and her friend spent about 90 minutes at the top of Table Rock and then walked down. When they got back to the parking area, the Ford Focus was gone.

The woman called Ada County Dispatch to check if her car was towed. It was not. So she looked around some more and reported it as stolen.

The next morning a family member of the woman found the car at the bottom of a ravine, several hundred feet below where it was parked the night before. The car was damaged beyond repair.

A tow truck had to pull out the wreckage. Deputies determined the car was still locked and what remained of the windows indicated they were closed when the car went off the cliff. The parking brake was engaged. A purse and backpack were still inside the car.

Damage to the back of the car indicated a much larger vehicle – likely a pickup truck or something bigger – drove up behind the car and pushed it over the cliff.

The women did see a pickup truck in the area when they arrived at the gate earlier that night but were not able to provide a detailed description.

Anyone with information should call Ada County non-emergency dispatch at (208) 377-6790 or send an email tocau@adacounty.id.gov

Stop by the ACSO job fair/open house Wednesday to learn about our 60+ career fields

While it’s possible you’ve heard the Ada County Sheriff’s Office is the biggest law enforcement agency in Idaho, what you may not know is we have over 60 different career fields – dozens of perhaps not-so-obvious career options in addition to traditional patrol work.

If you are interested in working for us, we are interested in you – and you’re in luck, because we are hosting an employment open house on Sept. 12 at our main office at 7200 Barrister Drive.

You’ll be able to find out how varied our job offerings are, from patrol and jail deputies to registered nurses to jail social workers to Emergency 911 dispatchers to computer systems application work – and a whole bunch more.

We’ll have a wide variety of ACSO employees available to answer questions and talk about their experience working for Idaho’s largest law enforcement agency.

The employment open house starts at 2 p.m. and goes until 6 p.m.

Recruitment Flyer-Open House 2018 (3)[1]

For more info on ACSO job opportunities, check out https://www.adasheriff.org/Careers

To see our list if of current openings, check out https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/adacounty/sheriff

As we said earlier, if you are interested in us – and our commitment to make sure Ada County remains a safe place to live, work, and play — we are interested in you.

Stop by on Wednesday and let’s talk. See ya then!

 

ITD extends credentials to Oct. 31 for people whose Driver’s License/ID expired during their recent system shutdown

There have been a lot of questions about how we are dealing with the Idaho Transportation Department’s problematic computer systems at our Driver’s License Office.

We don’t have a lot of answers at this point but one thing the ITD announced today was anyone who hasn’t been able to renew their driver’s license or state ID over the past few weeks and has — or will have — expired credentials will be extended until October 31.

That means if your license or ID expired anytime after Aug. 20, you’re good until Oct. 31.

The hope is that the ITD will get their computer systems up and running soon, so those people with recently expired licenses will have time during the next two months to stop by our office at 400 N. Benjamin Lane and renew their credentials before the Oct. 31 deadline.

The ITD says people whose license or state ID expired on Aug. 20 or after should print a copy of the letter attached to this post to show to law enforcement or the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) if needed.

20810829 DRIVERS LICENSE EXTENSION 2

20810829 DRIVERS LICENSE EXTENSION 2

Of course, expecting the ITD computer system to be working at all at this point is a gamble. Our Driver’s License office has been closed the past two days while the ITD works through computer system and software issues with their vendors.

The ITD’s Driver’s License system has been plagued with problems since they rolled it out statewide on Aug. 20

Officials with the ITD say they have created a solution to their computer problems and are set to train our staff – and the staffs of all the other Driver’s License offices in Idaho’s 44 counties — Wednesday afternoon, with the goal of reopening offices across the state Thursday morning.

We really hope it works and we can resume operations at our Benjamin Lane office.

For now, our staff is answering phones and doing additional training so when the system does come back online, they are ready to go.

DL office today

We understand how frustrated our citizens are. We are frustrated too. We know people are missing work and school and other important life events when they have to wait for so long to get their license or ID renewed.

When the ITD system does work, it takes our clerks about six minutes to take care of a customer who needs to renew their driver’s license.

Unfortunately, there have been many instances over the past few years when our staff hasn’t been given the opportunity to do their best work because of the problem-ridden ITD computer systems.

We really hope the ITD can figure out their issues so we can do what we do best, which is serve our citizens in the best way possible.

Sheriff Bartlett: ITD computer issues are the source of delays at Driver’s License office

If any of you went to our Driver’s License office at 400 N. Benjamin Lane this past year or so and have been frustrated about long wait times, I understand.

That’s because I am just as frustrated as you are.

It’s particularly vexing because we have an excellent Driver’s License staff that can’t serve you to the best of their abilities — because the Idaho Transportation Department has ongoing issues with their computer systems and software.

Idaho Code requires the sheriff’s office in all 44 counties to operate a driver’s license office for the ITD. We administer their system – including hiring employees and finding office space. The ITD runs the computer system and issue the licenses.

There isn’t anything we can do when the ITD’s computer system doesn’t work.

Consider what happened this morning. Our office was fully staffed and ready to go – but the ITD system wasn’t.

The crowd of customers kept growing. Some people left. Some decided to stay and to hope for the best. Patience was tested. Tempers flared. At the time I’m writing this (2:30 p.m.), the system is still down.

This is a scene that has played out dozens of times over the last two years

Every time it happens, everyone in the room feels the same way. Our staff is just as frustrated as you are.

We’ve made several improvements to increase customer service at the Benjamin Lane office. We added six more clerk stations to increase the number form 15 to 21. We’ve extended our hours of operation by 30 minutes at the beginning and end of each day. We’re now open 7:30 a.m.-to-5:30 p.m.

We would like to be open on Saturdays — and to extend our daily hours even more than we already have. We would do that right now if we could.

The ITD has resisted those efforts. They told us they need that downtime for their computer system.

We are also considering opening up additional driver’s license offices in other parts of Ada County, but that can’t happen until ITD gets their computer system worked out. We could have offices on every corner in town, open six days a week, and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference if the ITD system isn’t working.

When it does work, it takes our clerks about six minutes to take care of a customer who needs to renew their driver’s license. Unfortunately, there have been many instances over the past few years our staff hasn’t been given the opportunity to do their best work.

Earlier this month, every one of Idaho’s 44 counties closed their Drivers License office for two days so the ITD could install a new statewide computer system that was supposed to solve their problems. We used that time to train our staff on the new system.

The moment our office re-opened Aug. 13, our staff was trained and ready to go.

The new ITD computer system was not. From the get-go, glitches/system errors caused long delays — and resulted in some very frustrated customers ever since.

It’s not just Ada County. There have been reports of lengthy delays at sheriff’s offices all over Idaho. It’s more pronounced here in Ada County because we have so many more people.

It’s been so bad that the Idaho Sheriff’s Association sent a letter to Idaho Governor Butch Otter last week detailing how the sheriffs of Idaho’s 44 counties are taking the brunt of complaints that should be directed towards the ITD.

We’ve had some people ask why ITD doesn’t go back to their old system. That system was old and broken. Going back to that wouldn’t solve any of their issues. The only way to go is forward.

My great hope is that the new ITD computer systems gets back to 100 percent and our employees can concentrate on what they do best, which is providing excellent and timely service for the people of Ada County.

In the meantime, please check our Twitter account at @AdaCoSheriff or call (208) 577-3100 to find out if we are experiencing delays before heading to our office on Benjamin Lane. If you want to contact ITD about your experiences, call (208) 334-8000 or send them a message at https://apps.itd.idaho.gov/Apps/WebCommentsV2/

 

– Sheriff Steve Bartlett

71-year-old bicyclist dies after being hit by car Monday morning in Eagle

Eagle Police continue to investigate a fatal car vs. bicycle crash that occurred near the Iron Eagle Drive/Edgewood Lane intersection early Monday.

Cyclist Joann Baker was pronounced dead about three hours after the crash occurred. The adult female driver of the car did not appear to be injured.

Officers began their investigation just before 9 a.m. Monday when they got a report that a passenger car going southbound on Edgewood Lane collided with a bicyclist, who was on Edgewood near the crosswalk at the Iron Eagle Drive intersection.

Witnesses say the 71-year-old Baker was crossing Edgewood east-to-west when she was hit.

The force of the impact resulted in immediate and serious injury to Baker. Paramedics arrived moments later and transported her to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead just before noon Monday.

Baker was wearing a helmet when the crash occurred.

Officials with the Ada County Coroner’s Office listed Baker’s cause of death as blunt force trauma and the manner of death as accidental.

Crash reconstruction experts and police continue to investigate what happened.

No charges have been filed at this time. Anyone with information should call Eagle Police at (208) 938-2260.

 

 

Searchers recover body of 21-year-old man who fell into Lucky Peak last month

A Kuna couple who specializes in underwater sonar searches has located and recovered the body of 21-year-old Christian V. Dale, who fell into Lucky Peak in late July.

Ada County Sheriff’s Office marine patrol deputies had been searching for Dale since July 29, when he fell off the back of a boat near Gooseneck Bay in Lucky Peak and didn’t come back up.

Kuna residents Gene and Sandy Ralston, who specialize in underwater side-scan sonar searches and often assist law enforcement in recovery efforts with their specialized equipment, were able to locate the body, which was almost 200 feet down by the bottom of the reservoir, early Friday morning.

The Ralstons were then able use a remote-controlled unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) to recover the body.

Deputies have been working on the case since just after 9 p.m. on July 29, when they got a report that a man fell off a moving boat that night.

There were nine people on the boat at the time. They told deputies they had been on the water most of the day and were on their way to the boat ramp at Barclay Bay when a hat flew out of the boat near Gooseneck Bay.

When the driver of the boat turned to go retrieve the hat, Dale fell off the bow where he had been sitting. He was not wearing a life jacket.

The people in the boat immediately began searching for Dale but did not see him, so they drove to the Spring Shores Marina to call for help.

Ada County Sheriff’s marine patrol deputies arrived a short time later to search the water, while helicopter pilots searched the reservoir and shoreline with infrared technology in case the 21-year-old had been able to swim to shore and get out of the water.

Deputies continued the search over the next few days using sonar. They also used an unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) to search the area from above but were not able to locate Dale.

The search was suspended until Friday morning, when Ralston was available to help. It took about two hours to find and then recover the body Friday morning.

The Ada County Coroner’s Office will determine the cause and manner of death.

The case is still under investigation. No charges or citations have been issued at this time. The other nine people on the boat when Dale fell over have cooperated fully with investigators.

We would like to thank Gene and Sandy Ralston, and their company, Ralston & Associates, for their help.

Ada County now has text notification system to help people avoid missing court dates

By now, you’ve likely heard there are too many people in the Ada County Jail. We are pretty much close to being full every day – and a decent number of those inmates are incarcerated because they’ve missed court dates and keep getting new charges.

We really want them to avoid that phenomenon, so we are going to try something new. We’re going to text people to remind them to show up for court – if they want our help.

The crime charged most often in Ada County is failure to appear (FTA). By a lot. FTAs comprised over 18% of all jail bookings in 2017. The next highest jail booking charge was possession of a controlled substance, which made up almost 10% of all booked arrests.

We surveyed people charged with FTA last year and found that 50% said they just didn’t know or forgot about their scheduled court date; 24% cited transportation issues; 8% said they had work or childcare conflicts.

Thanks to our partnership with the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, we now have a text-based notification system in place that will let people know when their court dates are happening.

All people have to do is sign up at https://adacounty.id.gov/MyCourtDateThey will get a text notification a week before their hearing is scheduled and a second text the day before. (Anyone who has been to the dentist lately will be familiar with the process.)

Here’s what a notification looks like:

Text screenshot

If someone has more than one court case happening, they must submit a different form for each case to get all the notifications. Also, the new system is only set up for criminal cases, so you can’t get text notifications for civil court appearances.

This is a totally “opt-in” voluntary system – people aren’t required to sign up. But they should. Those FTAs can really pile up and make it harder for people to get out of the churn of jail and court all the time.

 

MyCourt Poster (1)

One thing we have to make crystal clear is that failure to get the reminder does not excuse anyone from missing a court date. This is an extra tool to help them remember to show up. Getting to court, on time, is totally the responsibility of whoever is charged.

What we do want to do is make it as easy as possible for people to sign up. So we’ll give sign-up forms to everyone who posts bond and leaves the jail. We have the online sign-up option available. It’s free. And it should help a lot of people avoid FTA charges piling up.

(People who want to sign up that don’t have their case number can look it up on https://mycourts.idaho.gov).

After years of working on a plan to reduce Ada County’s Jail population by 15%-to-19%, we are thrilled to finally be able to put our plan in action — thanks to the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge.

The Foundation has awarded Ada County $1 million to help us realize our vision — and the text notification system is only one of several programs and strategies we’ll be telling you about over the next year.

We’ve added people in key parts of the court system to try to identify people who are in jail who shouldn’t be – and find ways to get those cases wrapped up.

We are working towards expanding our pretrial programs to create options outside of the traditional cash-based bond system.

We are also working on reducing current disparities for Native and African American inmates in our jail.

That’s just some of what we are working on. There is a lot more story to tell, so stay tuned.