Prosecutor: McVey was on drugs when he charged and pepper sprayed an officer before being shot
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IDAHO FALLS — An Idaho Falls Police officer will not be charged for shooting and killing a man who fled from police during an incident Jan. 23.
The Twin Falls County prosecuting attorney made the decision after reviewing the case following an investigation by Idaho State Police.
Shane McVey, 54, was shot once by Officer Earl Laughter III. Police had been called to a “suspicious person” report at North Corner Avenue and Elm Street when they say McVey fled and entered an apartment building.
When officers attempted to apprehend him, investigators say McVey charged and sprayed pepper spray at the officer before Laughter fired a shot. McVey later died at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.
The Idaho Falls Police Department is holding a news conference to discuss the findings of the investigation.
EastIdahoNews.com will post a complete story later on Friday.
Here is a portion of the memo from the prosecuting attorney explaining what happened:
Shortly after 2:00 p.m. on January 23, 2018, police were informed that a person was trying to start a fire behind the convenience store. Officer Laughter was the first to arrive at the scene and drove his patrol vehicle to the back of the building where the incident had been reported.
Officer Laughter saw a blue Ford pickup truck and a man who appeared to be working on the truck. Officer Laughter asked dispatch for a description of the suspicious man and realized that the man he saw working on the truck was likely the subject of the call.
Officer Laughter parked behind the truck and saw that the man appeared to be changing a tire. Officer Laughter saw that the truck’s rear driver’s side tire was low. The man was holding a tire iron and there were tools all about. The man walked north, turned left, and walked around the side of the building out of Officer Laughter’s view. Officer Laughter and gave dispatch the license plate of the truck.
Officer Laughter investigated the vehicle. Officer Laughter did not see anything that indicated a fire was being started. The license plate on the truck showed the registered owner to be Shane McVey. Officer Laughter ran McVey on his computer and obtained a photograph of McVey.
Officer Laughter learned from dispatch that McVey had numerous warrants. McVey had active arrest warrants for Felony Grand Theft with a Persistent Violator Enhancement, issued out of Bingham County on 9/29/2017, and a warrant for Misdemeanor Driving Without Privileges, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Failure to Appear out of Bonneville County, issued on 1/4/2018.
Officer Laughter never dealt with McVey but knew about McVey from other law enforcement officers who had. McVey was known to be a fighter, violent with law enforcement officers, and uncooperative. Officer Laughter began to search for McVey because of the numerous warrants for his arrest and to continue the investigation of the suspicious activity behind the Common Cents.
From witnesses, Officer Laughter learned that McVey had left the area on foot. Officer Laughter returned to his patrol vehicle and drove to where McVey was last seen. Officer Laughter broadcast this information over the police radio.
Officer Laughter saw fresh tracks in the snow going southbound which led into a carport between two buildings. Officer Laughter saw a gathering of footprints in front of a door leading to a basement. The door had been knocked off its hinges. Officer Laughter requested another officer to respond via police radio. Officer Laughter heard rustling sounds and movement coming from behind the door. Officer Laughter opened the door, which led to stairs going down into a basement.
There were no lights in the basement and it was relatively dark. Officer Laughter shined his flashlight down the stairs. Officer Laughter identified himself as a police officer and called into the basement ordering whoever was there to show himself. A man, later identified as McVey, came out of the basement area with one hand behind his back and his other hand holding an object.
Sgt. McKenna soon arrived. Sgt. McKenna could see Officer Laughter in the breezeway near the doorway to the basement, which was open at the time. Officer Laughter had his service pistol out and was standing in the open doorway in front of the door, giving verbal commands.
Due to Officer Laughter having his pistol out and his assumption that the police officers would not be immediately pursuing the suspect into the basement, Sgt. McKenna decided to un-holster his Taser.
Officer Laughter gave verbal commands for McVey to stop and show his hands. McVey refused the commands. McVey began to ascend the stairs towards Officer Laughter in a threatening manner. Officer Laughter again gave verbal commands for McVey to stop and show his hands. Again McVey refused to comply.
Sgt. McKenna took up a position next to Officer Laughter and saw that McVey was about five steps from the top of the stairwell. McVey suddenly charged towards the officers, covering the last few stairs very quickly. McVey brought his right hand up, aimed at Officer Laughter and fired a stream of pepper spray at Officer Laughter.
Officer Laughter feared that he would be incapacitated by the pepper spray and that McVey would overtake him and try to take his gun, which was already out ofthe holster. Officer Laughter fired one round from his department issued Glock 17, 9mm pistol, striking McVey.
More Idaho Falls Police Officers and Idaho Falls Fire Department medical personnel were called to assist. Idaho Falls Police Officers performed CPR on McVey until relieved by the Idaho Falls medical personnel. McVey was transported by ambulance to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (EIRMC) where he was pronounced dead.
An autopsy of McVey showed that he died from a single gunshot wound. Toxicology reports indicated the presence of methamphetamine and amphetamine in his blood. A search of McVey’s truck uncovered a syringe from the driver’s door pouch, and two syringes, one with dark liquid that tested presumptively positive for methamphetamine, found inside a backpack.
Officers at the emergency room also found that there were needle tracks on McVey’s arms.
The investigation also found that McVey had sent a three-page hand-written letter, signed “Shane McVey” to the Bingham County Prosecuting Attorney complaining about a recent Grand Theft charge. McVey concludes this letter with:
After reading the reports, conferring with the CITF investigators, reviewing evidence from the incident, and considering the all relevant information, including the facts related above, I have concluded that there is not sufficient evidence to support a criminal charge against Officer Laughter for the shooting of Shane McVey.
The facts in this case reveal McVey, through his unlawful acts, made himself a clear and immediate danger to law enforcement officers who were engaged in the lawful performance of their duties, and a potential danger to the public at large. The actions of Officer Laughter, therefore, were justified under Idaho Codes 18-4009 (1), (3), & (4), Idaho Code 18-4010, and 18- 4011(2) and do not form the basis of a criminal prosecution.
I have concluded after reading the reports, reviewing the evidence, and conferring with the detectives from the Idaho State Police who headed up the Critical Incident Task Force investigation, that there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal charge against any law enforcement officers for the January 23, 2018, shooting of Shane McVey.
Officers from the Idaho Falls Police Department were lawfully engaged in the apprehension of Shane Earl McVey for questioning and arrest after learning that McVey had outstanding warrants and was the subject of a suspicious person investigation possibly involving arson.
Officers are authorized to use all reasonable and necessary means to apprehend fugitives and are justified in using deadly force to overcome resistance when they have probable cause to believe the resistance poses a threat of death or serious physical injury to the officers or other persons. McVey’s behavior and history of crime, violence and resisting the police provided that probable cause.
When Officer Laughter located McVey in the basement of the apartment building located at 1098 S. Boulevard, Officer Laughter was in uniform and repeatedly identified himself as a law enforcement officer. Officer Laughter was shouting lawful commands at McVey at a volume and with sufficient clarity that citizen witnesses heard them.
McVey demonstrated aggressive hostility to the officers and a refusal to comply with lawful orders designed to defuse the situation. McVey resisted Officer Laughter’s commands to stop and show Officer Laughter his hands and instead attacked Officer Laughter with pepper spray, which gave Officer Laughter a reasonable fear that he and
Sgt. McKenna could have been injured and that McVey could seized Officer Laughter’s pistol making McVey an even greater danger to officers and the community at large.
For these reasons, I decline to file any criminal charges against Officer Laughter or any other officers involved in this incident.