Some police involved shootings include suspects who are armed themselves and may be either mentally unstable or suicidal. The ideal outcome is for the police to diffuse the situation without anyone being hurt, however many people do end up dying during these confrontations. An incident in Boise shows how such events can unfold with serious consequences.

Armed man shot to death by police during traffic stop

A Blaine County prosecutor has cleared two Boise Police officers of any wrongdoing in the shooting death of Robert Hansen. The prosecutor determined that video evidence supported the need to use deadly force given the circumstances.

The incident occurred during a traffic stop in January of 2018. A Cadillac had been pulled over for an invalid registration on South 27th Street, and Hansen was present in the back seat. As officers approached the vehicle, they began to speak with the female driving the car. Hansen told the officers that he had a pistol as they were taking with the drivers and made statements about not wanting to go back to jail. There were attempts to negotiate to let the other passengers leave the vehicle and diffuse the situation, but apparently Hansen’s frustration only escalated. He pointed the gun at the driver and police can be heard on a body camera telling Hansen to put the gun down. Shortly afterwards, two officers opened fired on Hansen due to the gravity of the situation. One of the bullets connected with Hansen’s head and killed him. Multiple officers were on the scene when the fatal shots were fired and their body cameras captured footage from many different angles. Hansen was wanted in Twin Falls County had previously been convicted of domestic violence, driving under the influence, and leaving the scene of an accident.

Aside from the possibility of criminal charges against the officers, the Boise Police also conducted their own internal affairs investigation of the officers and determined that no disciplinary action was necessary.

The possibility of winning a lawsuit against the police

Incidents such as this can be difficult for lawyers because there is no obvious answer as to who is at fault for a person’s death. There was an armed suspect with the potential to hurt people, however, Hansen never actually fired the gun or hurt anyone. Police are given some discretion about how to use their firearms to prevent injury to members of the public, but when someone ends up dead there are always questions which need to be answered.

Just because the police have been cleared of the potential for any criminal charges does not mean that they are safe from civil lawsuits. The family of the deceased man can still bring a case against the officers for a number of reasons, including wrongful death and excessive use of force. There also may have been negligent actions during the situation. Negligence is a civil standard that requires a lower burden of proof than bringing criminal charges against them. As long as it is more likely than not that police action contributed to a person’s death, that is sufficient proof to prevail in a civil lawsuit.

A lawyer will have to make a number of determinations about the odds of success and the potential damages involved, but it is definitely reasonable to bring a civil lawsuit when someone dies during a police interaction. Some police departments may also be inclined to come to a settlement agreement with a deceased person’s family to avoid further negative publicity and the expense of a trial.

Talk to a lawyer today

If you or someone you know has died or been injured by the hands of police officers in Boise or surrounding cities in Idaho, it is possible to speak to a police brutality attorney. They can give expert advice about how to proceed, even in complex situations involving multiple armed parties.