IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - Many Local News 8 viewers sent us messages after Jeremy Best was taken to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center for a mental health evaluation, and then released hours before he allegedly shot his wife.
People wanted to know why he was let go. We have that answer.
According to Bonneville County sheriff's Sgt. Bryan Lovell, sheriff's deputies are trained to evaluate the situation when they encounter someone in a mental health crisis.
"When we encounter someone that's having some sort of possible medical or mental health issue, then we're evaluating what needs to be done and what's most important," Sgt. Bryan Lovell said. "Right then, of course, the health and safety of the person and the people around are important there. So we're taking the circumstances at hand and making a determination what the best course of action is."
In the case of Jeremy Best, the responding deputies contacted EMS to help Best get in touch with mental health resources. Lovell said oftentimes the sheriff's office's response depends on the suspect's level of cooperation.
"In this case, from our contact with Mr. Best in Swan Valley, he was obviously having some sort of crisis. He was cooperative. He was confused and disoriented. He wasn't fighting people or officers or ambulance personnel," Sgt. Lovell said. "He was having trouble understanding what was going on and and seemed to try to be figure it out for himself what was going on. But he was cooperative in going down a path to go and get checked and get some treatment and an evaluation and go from there."
According to Sgt. Lovell, it's not standard procedure to do a weapons check on someone having a mental health crisis unless they fit certain criteria.
When weapons are involved in an incident they'll take steps to make a safety plan but only in a situation where there's a concern for the safety of the person or the people around them.
"We didn't have any information or indication that there was weapons involved or anything like that," Lovell said. "He wasn't aggressive towards people or trying to attack any one person or anything. He made indications that maybe he was using drugs or something. But we didn't recover drugs, we didn't recover anything that said he was. It was hard to determine what exactly was going on because he was having a hard time describing that."
From that encounter, EMS took Best to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center for a mental health and medical evaluation.
According to Sgt. Lovell, if someone goes to an evaluation voluntarily the hospital cannot put a 24 hold on them unless the patient meets specific criteria. A statement released Tuesday morning by EIRMC spokesperson Coleen Niemann echos Lovell's statements.
"We are heartbroken by the tragedy that has rocked our community in the recent days and we join many in our area in extending our deepest sympathy to the families and loved ones of Kali and Zeke," Niemann said. "Like all hospitals, we follow specific standards of care when we assess and treat individuals, including those with behavioral health concerns. Idaho law limits law enforcement, hospitals, and healthcare providers from placing individuals on a protective custody hold unless specific clinical criteria is met. When these factors are not present or apparent at the time of the care process, hospitals cannot legally hold a patient against their or their family’s wishes."