Courts & Crime

Another Taser complaint: Man sues police in Idaho

BOISE, Idaho — Gerald Amidon is suing several Boise police officers for compensatory and punitive damages, claiming his civil rights were violated when he was shocked and threatened with a stun device last winter.

Amidon filed a lawsuit against the officers in U.S. District Court last week — after his lawyer said the City of Boise declined to settle the case.

Gerald Amidon filed a tort claim against the city in July, saying Boise police officers Cory Bammert, Deidra Harr, Guy McKean and Mark Abercrombi used excessive force during Amidon's Feb. 14 arrest and caused him physical injuries and mental anguish.

Boise Community Ombudsman Pierce Murphy investigated the claim earlier this year and determined that an officer used a Taser on Amidon twice and threatened to use it in his anus and on his genitals during the arrest.

Murphy also found a police supervisor erased a taped interview with Amidon and never completed a required report on the use of force in the arrest.

Both actions violated police policies, Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson said.

All officers involved in the case still work for the police department.

Boise police officials said in February officers were responding to a report of a domestic fight — "an urgent, dangerous and potentially violent situation, with the safety of a woman and child at the forefront of their thoughts and actions."

A neighbor had reported a fight between a man and a woman. Officers learned the man had been recently released from jail and a 3-year-old boy was in the house, according to police reports.

The officers said that when they arrived and pounded on the door, the man inside yelled profanity back at them.

He also pushed against the door as they tried to push their way in.

Murphy's investigation found that the officers did not identify themselves.

Murphy said Amidon had been told by the woman in the house that she'd called a friend to come over and beat him up - so he had the wrong idea about who was trying to get in.

It was after police got inside the home and began their investigation when they used a Taser on Amidon.

Amidon was charged with three misdemeanors — unlawful entry, battery, and false imprisonment — in connection with the case but those charges were dismissed by Ada County prosecutors in September.

A tort claim indicates to the city that a citizen is considering a lawsuit against it.

Amidon filed his tort claim in July. Lawyers for the City of Boise did not file a response in 90 days, which resulted in an automatic denial of Amidon’s claims on the state level.

Once the denial was official this fall, Amidon’s lawyer filed a complaint of civil rights violation lawsuit in the U.S. District Court Nov. 13, naming four specific Boise police officers and several other officers, identified “John Does,” as defendants in the lawsuit. Defense attorney Ron Coulter said Tuesday city officials did not try to settle the case and that Amidon was ready to go to trial.

Attorneys with the City of Boise said Tuesday they have yet to be served with the summons for the lawsuit. When they do, they have 20 days to file a response. Assistant City Attorney Scott Muir said the city will defend the lawsuit.

That would start the whole process of scheduling a jury trial, which could take a year or longer to be scheduled in U.S. District Court.

Amidon will find out in December if he will go to prison for an unrelated criminal case.

Amidon pleaded guilty to a charge of felony grand theft in September, according to Ada County court records.

Amidon was originally charged with felony burglary and grand theft in January, in connection to an incident where he was accused of breaking into a local construction business and and taking equipment — including an air powered wrench — worth over $1,000, according to court records.

The burglary charge was dropped after Amidon pleaded guilty to grand theft. Amidon is scheduled to be sentenced by 4th District Judge Michael McLaughlin Dec. 2.