20-year-old man who started Table Rock fire last summer with illegal fireworks must pay $319,000 in restitution

 

Taylor Kemp will spend the next two years on probation and at least four days in the Ada County Jail for igniting a wildfire that consumed 2,600 acres of the Foothills in east Boise, destroyed one home, and put hundreds more at risk.

Kemp will likely spend the rest of his life paying $319,000 in restitution for the damage he caused.

When given the opportunity to address a judge — and the owner of the home destroyed in the fire — during a sentencing hearing Friday, Kemp declined.

There was no apology or acknowledgement of responsibility Friday from Kemp, who didn’t show any signs of emotion during the hour-long hearing.

Fourth District Magistrate James Cawthon described what Kemp did the night of June 29 as a “horribly reckless, thoughtless act,” and told Kemp the restitution bill of $319,000 was a bargain.

“There was nothing normal about what happened here,” Cawthon said. “You can’t live in Boise front one summer without knowing the ever present danger of fire … the warnings are everywhere.”

Kemp’s attorney asked Cawthon during Friday’s hearing to not to allow Boise Fire, Boise Police, and the Bureau of Land Management to seek restitution for costs incurred during the fighting of the blaze, saying those agencies were just doing their jobs.

Cawthon dismissed that idea, telling Kemp he was lucky those fire fighters and police responded immediately, in the middle of the night, and put themselves in danger to protect the people in that neighborhood. The damage to life and property would have been catastrophic, Cawthon said, if not for that effort.

Kemp pleaded guilty earlier this year to a misdemeanor count of unlawful use of fireworks in connection with the blaze.

Cawthon sentenced Kemp Friday to 180 days in jail, but suspended 160 days. Kemp must spend four full days in jail before he can ask for an alternative sentencing program, like the sheriff’s labor detail or work release.

Kemp admitted to detectives he was shooting roman candles off the side of the road near the Table Rock gate just before midnight June 29 when he said the wind knocked one of them over. The flaming projectiles ignited the side of a nearby hill.

By the time the fire contained the next day, one home and outbuilding were destroyed, dozens of homes in the Harris Ranch subdivision were put at risk, and over 2,600 acres of the Foothills that frame the east end of Boise were burned black.

Ada County Sheriff’s deputies and detectives sorted through over 100 tips from the public and did dozens of interviews — including one with Kemp the morning of June 30 — before he admitted what happened when detectives interviewed him for a second time in late August.

Shortly after he was charged, Kemp went to local media outlets and claimed he did not set the fire and that his confession was coerced.

Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Tamera Kelly pointed out to Cawthon Friday that not only has Kemp has never accepted responsibility for what he did, but went out of this way to misrepresent his interaction with Ada County Sheriff’s detectives.

Van Danielson, the owner of the home lost to the fire, asked Cawthon to sentence Kemp to 160 hours of sorting through the ashes of the home to see if anything remains.

“There is nothing left … the only thing left is my memories, and you can’t take them away,” Danielson said, adding that Kemp’s stupidity could have cost him the lives of his family if they were home at the time. “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

“I don’t have any hatred for Mr. Kemp. I don’t understand where he was coming from. Maybe he can get things together for the rest of his life.”

Eagle Police arrest Boise man who broke into two homes, stole a car, turfed a lawn, and then tried to attack an officer with a tree branch

Wesley R. Williams is being held in the Ada County Jail on felony counts of burglary, malicious injury to property, and grand theft in connection with a violent crime spree in Eagle early Tuesday morning.

Eagle Police had to use a Taser to take the tree branch-wielding Williams into custody.

Investigators are still trying to figure out why Williams broke into the homes of people he didn’t know and then tried to attack officers.

Eagle Police began their investigation shortly after 2 a.m. Tuesday when dispatchers got a call reporting that a man broke into a home in the 600 block of N. Parkinson Street.

When police were on their way to the home, a neighbor called dispatch and said a man matching the same description was trying to break in to their home.

When officers arrived, they found a man, later identified as Williams, holding an 8-foot-long large tree branch to bang on the door of a third home.

An Eagle Police officer then told Williams to stop what he was doing and drop the branch. Williams began yelling and walked towards the officer, who warned him several times to stop. The officer used his Taser to stop Williams as he was raising the branch over his head.

Once officers had Williams in custody, they were able to put together what happened.

Williams first broke into a home in the 600 block of Parkinson and woke up the person who lived there. That person grabbed their handgun and yelled at Williams to leave.

Williams left that house, ran across the street, kicked in the front door of a home, took some keys from inside, and stole a Jeep. He then went back to the first house, where he tried to get back inside again but the homeowner once again told him to leave.  Williams walked around the home, picked up a railroad tie from the yard, and threw it through a window.

Williams then ran over to the stolen Jeep, got in, and drove to the different house nearby, where he did several donuts in the yard, tearing up the grass, before getting out, grabbing a branch, and trying to get inside that house.

That is when Eagle Police arrived. They were able to take him into custody after using the Taser. Williams continued yell and act erratically after he was restrained. He had to be strapped to a gurney before being taken to a local hospital for a medical exam.

Williams was medically cleared and booked into the Ada County Jail just after 5 a.m. He is also charged with a misdemeanor count of resisting arrest.

Police are still not sure how Williams got to the neighborhood and where he was before that. He does not appear to have any connection to anyone who lives in the three different homes.

Anyone with information should call Ada County dispatch at 377-6790.

 

A message from Sheriff Bartlett

It is not uncommon for people arrested for crimes to make accusations against law enforcement agencies. We have a civil court system to address those concerns. On Tuesday, a federal jury determined an Ada County Sheriff’s Office deputy did not use excessive force when arresting Adam T. Saetrum on a drug delivery charge in 2013.

The trial lasted six days, but it only took the jury 45 minutes to reject Saetrum’s claim. Saetrum claimed he was hit by a patrol car on purpose during his arrest. The jury determined the car never hit Saetrum at all.

While the fact the case went to trial in the first place is a surprise, the speedy verdict was not. We’ve also known since the day of the incident our deputies did everything the right way.

Unfortunately for Sgt. Jake Vogt and the rest of the Ada County Sheriff’s Office, Tuesday’s verdict can’t change the fact that irresponsible reporting, editing, and presentation by the Idaho Statesman has already caused damage that cannot be undone.

For example, using the words “police brutality” in multiple headlines, when no such thing occurred, is bias. Headlines that say mediation “failed” gives the false impression we would have accepted anything other than Saetrum dropping his suit.

Federal courts rejected every claim Saetrum made about his arrest in 2013 except one. The court determined a jury could hear evidence for Saetrum’s claim that he was purposefully hit by a patrol car as he tried to avoid arrest.

Yet the Statesman continued to include unsubstantiated claims made by Saetrum about the arrest in their stories – claims the court dismissed.

Now that the only suit of several to make it to a courtroom is over, and every claim Saetrum made has been dismissed by the courts or rejected by a jury of his peers, where is the relief for Sgt. Vogt, who did his job that day exactly the way we expect?

He and the rest of the deputies involved in Saetrum’s arrest deserve praise. Sgt. Vogt has spent the last two decades working every day to make Ada County a safer place for all of us to live, work, and play. He is an outstanding deputy and fine man.

A civil suit is not a criminal case, where rules like probable cause require strict evidence needed to make a claim of fact. That is why responsible news organizations use caution when writing stories about civil suits. There are repeated instances where Saetrum’s claims are given the weight of fact.

We understand that our employees are subject to public scrutiny. That is part of the job. The public deserves the facts, and I am thankful the verdict supports the truth.

 

 

Concealed Weapon License office moving to Ada County’s Benjamin Lane campus

The ACSO concealed weapon license office is moving from the sheriff’s office at 7200 Barrister Drive to the Ada County campus at 400 N. Benjamin Lane.

Ada County’s Benjamin Campus is the same building where you would go to renew your driver’s license. It is also where the county’s election services and juvenile probation services offices live.

The move is happening over the weekend, so if you need to apply for or to renew a concealed weapons license on Monday, go to the Benjamin Lane campus.

We will dedicate workstations #3 and #4 inside the Drivers License office to concealed weapons licensing. Just make sure to grab a number when you get in, just like you were trying to renew your driver’s license or vehicle registration.

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Moving to the Benjamin Campus allows our driver’s license and concealed weapons license employees to cross-train and support each other. It also allows us to use our office space more efficiently. Check out https://adasheriff.org/Services/Concealed-Weapons-Permits for more info.

Kuna Police investigating fatal car crash on Swan Falls Road

A 22-year-old Kuna man died after his car hit a power pole off the side of Swan Falls Road late Wednesday night.

Kuna Police were sent to the intersection of Swan Falls and Kuna Mora roads when Ada County dispatchers got a 911 call about the crash just after 11:45 p.m. Wednesday.

Officers arrived moments later to find a car smashed into a power pole. The car was on fire. Officers pulled the driver out before the car was engulfed in flames. The man was only person inside.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

Officers are still trying to determine what caused the man to lose control of the car.

CITF and prosecutor investigations completed in Edgar Hafen shooting case

Three Kuna Police officers correctly followed Ada County Sheriff’s Office policies on use of force when they shot a 72-year-old man who pointed a gun at them from inside his car last fall.

Edgar Hafen is set to begin a jury trial in July for a felony count of assault or battery upon law enforcement in connection with the case.

Blaine County Prosecutor Jim Thomas reviewed the Ada County Critical Incident Task Force report into the shooing of Hafen on Nov. 10 and determined the officers’ decision to fire “was an appropriate use of deadly force in order to protect themselves and other law enforcement officers” nearby.

Our internal investigation drew the same conclusion and determined Kuna Police officers Wes Bunnell, Vishal Sahni, and Nolan Zorn followed all ACSO policies during the incident – which also involved a low-speed car pursuit that ended in the desert south of Kuna.

Thomas reviewed hours of interviews, video recordings from the officers’ on-body video cameras, forensic evidence, photographs, medical records, and a variety of other reports — all generated and collected by the CITF.

The incident began the evening of Nov. 10 when one of Hafen’s family members contacted Canyon County Sheriff’s deputies. They were concerned Hafen may try to hurt himself.

Canyon County deputies found Hafen driving near Melba and attempted to pull him over.

Hafen kept driving, eventually making his way into Ada County, where Kuna Police took over the pursuit around 6:20 p.m. as he drove east on Kuna Road. Hafen refused to pull over and kept going, turning south on Swan Falls Road.

Kuna police followed Hafen until he slowed down enough at Victory Lane for an officer to do a PIT (Pursuit Intervention Technique) maneuver, where the patrol car strikes the side of the other car and causes it to abruptly move sideways and stop.

Three Kuna Police officers — Sahni, Zorn, and Bunnell — got out of their cars and told Hafen to get out. He refused to get out and pointed a handgun at the officers. The officers fired, and Hafen dropped his gun out the window.

None of the three officers were injured.

Paramedics treated Hafen at the scene and then drove him to a local hospital.

It was later discovered that Hafen was holding a replica 1911 Colt-style semi-automatic pistol BB gun. When asked later why he pointed the BB gun at officers, Hafen said he “pulled the gun out so they would shoot away.” He also told investigators he knew it was a BB gun but to officers it would look like a 1911 handgun.

Hafen also told paramedics that night he “didn’t care either way” when they asked if he was trying to complete suicide.

The Ada County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Boise Police Department for their thorough and comprehensive work leading the CITF investigation and Blaine County Prosecutor Jim Thomas for reviewing the evidence.

Deputies are looking for whoever dumped 147 tires along Beacon Light Road

The residents of Eagle, Star, and the rest of western Ada County love the wide-open and pastoral character where they live— and hate it when that aesthetic is wrecked with litter, like the 147 old junk tires left strewn off Beacon Light Road last night.

The number 147 is not a misprint or typo. Someone decided to drive down Beacon Light road, between Eagle Road and Idaho 16, and dump old tires on the side of the road for over 3 miles.

Every one of those tires was a potential traffic and safety hazard. Some still had metal rims attached.

The tires were spaced out all along the road, making each one a potential crime. Every tire dumped in Eagle could result in separate misdemeanor charge – distributing or scattering garbage — which is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Every tire found in unincorporated Ada County could result in a separate infraction for placing debris on public property, which is punishable by up a $300 fine and up to 10 days in jail.

You can also add in the cost of restitution for the Ada County Highway District, which had to remove and safely dispose of the tires.

Whoever dumped the tires committed a crime and is being incredibly terrible stewards of the land. Please know if you dump trash, we will work hard to find you. That’s why it would be best if whoever did this contacted Eagle Police or the Ada County Sheriff’s Office now.

Deputies are actively investigating this and would like to hear from anyone who saw a truck carrying tires on Beacon Light Road late Thursday night or early Friday morning.

Anyone with information should send an email to cau@adaweb.net  or call Ada County non-emergency dispatch at 377-6790.

CITF investigating shooting in Boise

The Ada County Critical Incident Task Force is investigating the officer-involved shooting of a 34-year-old Boise man who fired at deputies serving a warrant at a home on West Granger Avenue Tuesday afternoon. The man’s injuries do not appear to be life-threatening.

Three deputies with the Ada County Sheriff’s Office ACTION (Anti-Crime Team In Our Neighborhoods) Unit went to a home in the 9900 block of West Granger at about 12:15pm to serve an arrest warrant on Robert Coy for a felony charge of falsifying documents.

Deputies were trying to arrest Coy when the 65-year-old started resisting. The man’s son, Bryan Coy, 34, was in the house and fired a pistol at the officers. Deputies returned fire.

Bryan Coy was taken to a local hospital with injuries that do not appear to be life-threatening. A warrant has been issued for Coy on a charge of aggravated assault with a $1-million bond. When he is released from the hospital, Coy will be moved to the Ada County Jail and booked on the felony assault warrant.

Robert Coy was transported to the Ada County Jail where he was booked on the felony charge of offering a false or forged instrument. He is being held on a $10,000 bond. Additional charges are possible.

The three officers who fired at Coy are all members of the ACTION Team: Sgt. Pat Schneider, who has been with the ACSO for 17 years; Deputy Ryan Donelson who has been with the agency for 12 years; and Deputy Terry Lakey who has been with the ACSO for 11 years.

The Critical Incident Task Force does an independent investigation of all uses of lethal force by law enforcement in Ada County. Boise Police is the lead agency for this incident. Investigators are still determining how many rounds were fired.

No one else was at the home during the incident.

27-year-old Utah man charged with drug trafficking after deputies find a pound of pot and large bag of psilocybin mushrooms during traffic stop

Lee Thomas Smith is also charged with a felony count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

Deputies began their investigation around 8 p.m. Friday when they pulled over Smith, who was driving a 2004 Prius on Eagle Road, near the E. Taconic Drive intersection because one of the headlights on the car was burned out.

Deputies detected the smell of marijuana coming from inside the car as they talked to Smith, so they called in a K9 dog to smell around the car.

K9 Nate detected the odor of illegal drugs inside.

Deputies searched the car and found over one pound of marijuana divided into several different plastic bags.

They also found a large plastic bag full of mushrooms, material that appears to be hash oil, a bag of as yet unidentified pills, drug paraphernalia like digital scales and pipe, a loaded handgun, a sword, and over $2,400 in cash.

pot 3

Deputies eventually arrested Smith and booked him into the Ada County Jail. Other charges are possible in connection with the case.

The 27-year-old Smith is set to make his initial court appearance Monday afternoon.

Detectives are investigating report of battery near Table Rock

Detectives are investigating a case where a woman says she was followed by two men she didn’t know before she was punched in the face near Table Rock Sunday night.

Detectives began their investigation immediately after the woman contacted us early Monday afternoon.

The woman says the attack occurred between 8:40 and 9 p.m. Sunday night near the gate down the road from the top of Table Rock.

The woman said she was walking back to her car when two men – who she described as being in their 20s and about 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall — began following her.

The woman said when she got to her car door, one of the men walked up to her and punched her in the face. The woman said she yelled and pushed the man away. That’s when she said both men walked away. The woman said she got into her car and drove away.

The woman told detectives Monday she didn’t call 911 or tell law enforcement at the time because she was anxious and wanted to calm down.

Detectives continue to investigate what happened. We haven’t had any similar reports of anything like this happening in the Table Rock area.

We do want to hear from anyone who may have any information. Please call Ada County dispatch at 377-6790 if you do.