IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - The investigation into an officer-involved shooting continues in Idaho Falls. It happened early Monday morning and involved an Idaho State trooper and Idaho Falls police officers.
The incident started when a trooper attempted a traffic stop. The driver shot at the officers causing the officers to shoot back. The suspect was killed.
The Eastern Idaho Critical Incident Task Force is doing the investigation with Bingham County as lead.
EICITF is made up of different law enforcement agencies from 16 different counties, including city, county and state agencies.
"It's made up of those entities and they're investigators and they're trained. In fact, we have training scheduled for this, coming up on January 16th and 17th, a two-day training. They're training, specifically for handling investigations involving critical incidents," said Bannock County Sheriff Tony Manu, who is on the task force's board.
The task force can be activated on any incident involving an officer.
"This is a group of investigators to do that non-biased I guess you can say someone not affiliated with the agency that's involved in that critical incident. So that's good. That's why it was made up," Sheriff Manu said.
Manu says the task force could be called for a high-speed car chase that ends with a person dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound or help with man-power.
"Maybe shootings happened while the pursuit was on, you could have crime scenes miles long where you need people that have secure crime scenes along the way, where there is maybe, shell casings here or there's some evidence here, maybe bad guys threw some stuff out here. So really, until you get there and you find out little more about the incident, that's really how you try to formulate how big of a how big of a group of investigators you need. So it's quite the task," Sheriff Manu said.
A major role of the task force is to provide an unbiased investigation into these incidents. The assigned investigators may have heard some minor details come over their dispatch channels, but they won't know the whole picture until the investigation is complete.
"You never knew any details until you started the investigation. There's a briefing before you start the investigation. The lead investigator makes assignments to who's going to do interviews, who's going to do the crime scene, who's going to collect evidence, and who's going to take photographs? I mean, it's a big production," Sheriff Manu shared.
The task force is broken up into two separate regions North and South. Bingham County is the central hub for the region and this task force.
"If you're an agency that needs the critical incident task force, you contact them and dispatch. They send out an alert to all the agencies saying there was an incident that occurred at such and such and such agencies. Please report if you can respond. If you have investigators that are available, please respond to this location and your point of contact is so and so," Sheriff Manu said.
The reason for the regional breakdown of the task force is to mitigate how many people show up all at once.
"Because if you send it out to all the counties, you get 100 investigators for one incident and you'll be sending people home. And we've got way too many. So we've learned that over the years that we've got it. We've got to separate this because we had people responding from Bear Lake all the way to Teton County when we already had enough investigators," Sheriff Manu said.
Manu says once the investigation by the task force is complete, it will be sent to the county's prosecutor where the incident happened.
For instance, with the case of December 4th's Officer Involved Shooting, the facts of the case will go to the Bonneville County Prosecutor.
However, the case may not stay there.
"Then if he feels he needs an unbiased opinion, he can take that case and farm it out to another prosecutor. It's really up to that prosecutor in that venue," Sheriff Manu said.
Manu clarified the task force isn't to help cops cover for each other but to provide a fact-based investigation.
"It's not a matter of taking sides. We do an actual fact-finding, just like you would any other criminal investigation, and you let the chips fall where they are," Sheriff Manu said.
The Task force has been around for several years and has investigated several different incidents.
"The fortunate thing is we do have this training and the fortunate thing is we're getting pretty good at this," Manu said.
Sheriff Manu adds the task force provides peace of mind to agency heads, as they know that the investigation will be in the hands of unbiased professionals.