BOISE, Idaho — A report from the Office of Police Accountability found that Boise Police officers acted appropriately when they shot a man accused of kidnapping a child through the windshield of his car last year, seriously injuring the suspect.
The report into the June 27 shooting concluded that one of the officers should have made sure his body camera was recording, but otherwise exonerated the four officers of wrongdoing.
Police had been instructed to search for Mohamud Mkoma that morning after a report that he forcibly abducted his 13-year-old son from a Boise home, in violation of a no-contact order. Although the Office of Police Accountability does not identify Mkoma or the officers involved in the shooting by name, details in the report make it clear they are referring to his case.
As authorities were preparing to issue an AMBER Alert for the 13-year-old, according to the report, a police sergeant spotted Mkoma and the boy in a vehicle at a gas station in northwest Boise. The sergeant approached, but Mkoma drove away.
"Sergeant #1 continued to pursue the subject, who began waving a large knife outside the driver's window, still attempting to elude Sergeant #1 and not pull over," the report says. "Officers #1, #2, and #3 joined Sergeant #1 in the pursuit of the subject, who continued waving the large knife outside the driver's window as he fled."
The sergeant following Mkoma rammed his vehicle using a PIT maneuver near 36th Street and North Eyrie Way, causing the suspect's car to rotate and come to a stop.
The other three officers drew their guns and pointed them at Mkoma while calling out to him to drop the knife and raise his hands. At the same time, the sergeant opened up the suspect's passenger door to get the 13-year-old out of the car.
"At this time, the subject leaned toward the child holding the large knife and raised the weapon as if he was going to stab the child seated next to him," the report reads.
The three officers who had been pointing their guns at Mkoma all fired, shooting through the windshield. Mkoma was hit multiple times, and dropped the knife onto his lap, according to investigators.
The sergeant reached through the passenger door and pulled the suspect's son out of the vehicle, taking him to a nearby patrol car. The boy was not hit by the gunfire.
The other officers dragged the injured Mkoma out through the driver's side door and laid him down on the sidewalk, where they applied pressure and bandages to his gunshot wounds, and began CPR. Paramedics arrived and rushed him to the hospital, where he would remain for months undergoing treatment.
The 13-year-old was taken to a different hospital, where he was checked out and treated for minor cuts from the glass.
In the report, Office of Police Accountability Director Jesus Jara concluded that the officers were justified in shooting at Mkoma, as well as initiating a chase and ramming his vehicle with a patrol car.
"The facts and totality of the circumstances demonstrate the imminent danger to the child including the subject forcibly kidnapping the child, the failure of the subject to yield to pursuing officers, the subject brandishing the large knife in a threatening manner outside the driver’s window while officers were pursuing him, and the subject raising the knife toward the child in a threatening manner after his vehicle was stopped by the PIT maneuver," he wrote. "Officers #1, #2, and #3 reasonably believed that it was necessary to use deadly force to prevent imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm to the child."
Lara wrote that the sergeant who initially spotted Mkoma and the teen should have used his body camera to capture the incident, but noted that the sergeant had tried to turn it on, but "it was later learned that the power on button was not depressed long enough to activate."
Mkoma's shooting drew a protest at Boise City Hall, with some in attendance arguing that the situation should have been handled differently, and saying that Mkoma did not understand English and has schizophrenia. The protest, which remained peaceful, was held before police released information about Mkoma wielding a knife toward his son in the encounter.
Mkoma has been charged with multiple counts of lewd conduct with a child, aggravated assault, assault on an officer, use of a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony, and other charges. The court is currently seeking to determine whether Mkoma is mentally competent to stand trial in the case; a preliminary hearing is set for April 11.
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