FHBC supports FBI's probe into Toane shooting
By LORI EDMO-SUPPAH
FORT HALL — The Fort Hall Business Council said Wednesday they support the FBI’s investigation into a Bannock County Sheriff’s officer shooting of Kevin Dean Toane, 33, of Fort Hall, the night of November 27.
However, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes is initiating their own investigation into it since they haven’t been included in Bannock County’s investigation. They have requested access to Bannock County law enforcement video; audio, incident reports and crime scene logs said Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Nathan Small in a press release.
Toane was shot twice in the back of the neck by a Bannock County officer after allegedly being in a high speed chase after a hit and run on Tyhee and Hiline Roads around 11:30 p.m. Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen said after Toane’s car was identified, officers pursued him through Cemetery and Pole Line Extension Roads. Fort Hall Police officers put spikes down to slow him on Siler and Edmo Roads, FHPD Chief Pat Teton said, and it ended on the gravel road near the old Boarding School on the Fort Hall Reservation.
Nielsen said after Toane was stopped, he used his vehicle to ram the police car and the officer felt as if his life was in danger so he shot him. Toane was taken by ambulance to Portneuf Medical Center examined, then taken by Life Flight to Salt Lake City.
Since then, Toane was released from the University of Utah Medical Center on December 3 and was arrested by Salt Lake law enforcement on a Bannock County warrant despite having a shattered jaw and still recovering from the gunshot wounds.
Kerrie Toane Deloera, Kevin’s sister, said he is in stable condition and they just want to get him home because he needs to heal.
Now he has to go through extradition proceedings. Once he’s back in Idaho, Toane will have to go before a judge to face charges of felony eluding and aggravated battery charges.
Deloera said when they spoke to Kevin in the hospital; he thought he was in a vehicle wreck. She said he wasn’t in a high speed chase, he was just trying to get back home and there was no need to shoot him and they (Bannock County Sheriff’s officers) should have left it in the hands of Fort Hall Police. “They went out of their way than what should have been done – I want people to know he didn’t harm anyone, he has a driver’s license, insurance and is a responsible young man,” she said. He’s a Sundancer and goes to sweats, it’s not supposed to happen to him, she continued.
Deloera wants to thank everyone for their prayers and donations including the FHBC members and individuals. “Without the prayers, we don’t think he would be alive.”
Small said in a press release there are troubling facts to the shooting, the Tribes aren’t rushing to judgment but have cause for concern. “It’s is troubling that Bannock County law enforcement has had multiple officer-involved shootings in the recent past and that this same officer was involved in the recent shootings.”
There are troubling facts about the shooting; the Tribes statement says the driver pulled over in an unpopulated area on the Reservation with no other traffic. He was surrounded by multiple law enforcement vehicles on a marked dead-end road. His tires were spiked and flat. “The officers had identified the driver and had access to his record, they should have known he had no history of violence,” the Tribes release said. After Toane pulled over, he reversed a short distance at low speed and bumped the officer’s vehicle. The officer was in a much larger SUV but drew his weapon immediately, shot through his own windshield and into Toane’s rear window hitting him in the neck. Beyond Toane’s vehicle and directly with the shooting officer’s field of fire were other officers on the scene. These initial facts alone do not prove the office was wrong to use deadly force but they raise legitimate questions that must be answered by a transparent investigation.
The Tribes want everyone to be accountable to the law including Toane but by courts of law. “He should not be subject to unlawful or excessive force and should not be tried in the press,” adding premature statements should not be made at a press conference to taint the jury pool or attempt to justify or vilify the county officer.
Sheriff Nielsen said on Thanksgiving Day he had also asked Bonneville County to conduct and administrative investigation. “I am concerned about the amount of violence that has gone on,” Nielsen continued. “It is very traumatic to our officers too, I don’t hire people to shoot people, I hire them to protect.”
Nielsen said the officer involved is on administrative leave and will be until the investigation is complete. “We are not happy about this,” he said.
He also said December 4 the FBI is still investigating and he’s not going to speculate. “I wasn’t there (at the scene), I know what my officers said, let’s let the experts do their job.”
Chairman Small said in the prepared statement Toane is accountable to the law and so is the county officer. “Tribal members are not second class citizens and deserve more than loose law enforcement.” However he said it is too early to conclude the officer used excessive force but it is not too early to conclude that the same standards apply to an officer’s use of force in town also apply on the Reservation.
Small said they want everyone on the Reservation to be safe. “The Fort Hall Business Council will earnestly seek to address those issues in order to protect all residents of the Reservation.”
He added the county’s independent investigation must be transparent and neutral. “When Tribal officers responded to the scene on tribal owned land on the Reservation, Bannock County law enforcement refused to let them take video or photographs. Bannock County removed the officer’s vehicle before the Tribes could investigate and have not made the dash camera or audio recordings available to the Tribes.” Small said there is no reason why information should be hidden or withheld until later.
“This is a circumstance about people, not race,” Small said. The lead fact should not be that he is a ‘Fort Hall man,’” He has a full time job, a family that loves him and is known as a kind and religious person. “Obviously he was involved in conduct for which he must be accountable but the story should not focus on his race.”
The Tribes statement says they want a more cooperative law enforcement relationship and protocol with surrounding agencies. “This tragic circumstance demonstrates the need for cooperation between county, city and tribal law enforcement,” Small continued. “County and Trial leaders owe it to all citizens and Reservation residents to develop a respectful and cooperative agreement or protocol defining how the agencies work together in hot pursuit cases in a way that takes advantage of the unique assets and resources each agency has.”