IDAHO FALLS — It’s unclear what events led up to the death of Idaho Falls Police Officer Blaine Reed at the hands of a Utah homeowner Thursday night, but there is some indication Reed was having difficulty in his personal life.
Reed, 35, was placed on administrative duty in October, and administrative leave a month later after he reported a domestic dispute between himself and an ex-girlfriend to his superiors. That physical fight eventually led to felony and misdemeanor abuse charges filed against him in Jefferson County.
Hours before his death Thursday, Reed’s troubles began in eastern Idaho. Bonneville County Sheriff Sgt. Bryan Lovell says Reed was involved in a “disturbance” in Ammon that morning. The nature of the disturbance has not been released, but it was reported to and investigated by authorities after the fact.
Out of a desire not to impact the Layton Police Department’s investigation, the sheriff’s office is not releasing information about the Ammon incident, Lovell said.
Later in the day, Reed left Idaho and traveled to Utah. In a Facebook post, Reed’s lawyer, Joe Filicetti, says Reed was having a dispute with one of his best friends over a woman.
Police reports show Reed entered a home in Layton uninvited and confronted the homeowner about a relationship involving an ex-girlfriend. Police say an argument ensued, and the homeowner shot Reed several times.
Reed was pronounced dead at Intermountain Layton Hospital.
The homeowner is cooperating with investigators, and as of Friday afternoon, no charges had been filed.
“Right now it appears that the situation was justified for self-defense, but it’s too early in the investigation to determine if charges will be filed,” Layton Police Lt. Travis Lyman tells EastIdahoNews.com.
No other information about the incident was released, including the name of the homeowner.
Reed had worked as an officer at the Idaho Falls Police Department since December 2015. Prior to that, he was a deputy at the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office for seven years. Reed was honored with the IFPD’s “Life‐Saving” Award in 2016 for saving a man after a drug overdose.
“We are saddened by the news of his passing and the events surrounding this tragic situation. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those involved,” the Idaho Falls Police Department said in a statement Friday morning.
The domestic dispute in Jefferson County
There are conflicting accounts of the October domestic dispute between Reed and his ex-girlfriend.
Court documents show on Oct. 12, Reed and the woman were in his apartment when the incident took place. Reed told police he was intoxicated at the time after having a “significant amount to drink.”
The ex-girlfriend claimed Reed violently attacked her, forced her to his bed, strangled her and then pulled his service weapon on her during an argument. She also said Reed took her keys when she tried to leave, and that he threw her against a set of stairs.
At one point the ex-girlfriend says Reed placed the gun inside his mouth. She tried to stop him and console him, but he said “you only care because of this,” referring to his weapon. Reed then said “you’re not getting out of here tonight. Neither of us are getting out of here tonight,” according to statements given to police.
Eventually the ex-girlfriend said Reed unloaded his gun, and allowed her to leave, saying she can “go ruin my life.” After leaving, the ex-girlfriend didn’t call police, because she was afraid Reed might harm himself.
Reed told detectives a very different version of events. He claimed while he was drunk, his ex-girlfriend sneaked into his home, checked his cellphone and discovered sexual text messages between himself and a previous girlfriend, with whom he had recently rekindled a relationship, according to documents. Later, Reed said he was woken up in the dark to his ex-girlfriend “hitting him and beating him up.” He claims he grabbed his service weapon for self-protection, but unloaded it after he discovered who was in his room. Reed said the two argued, and she left without any sort of physical fight.
It’s not clear if either of the women listed in the October case was the ex-girlfriend connected to the deadly confrontation in Layton.
The day after the incident, IFPD spokeswoman Jessica Clements said Reed reported what had happened to his superiors and he was immediately placed on administrative duty and prohibited from operating as a police officer. IFPD reported the incident to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
After a two-month investigation, Jefferson County Prosecutor Paul Butikofer found sufficient evidence to charge Reed with felony attempted strangulation, misdemeanor assault and felony enhancement of using a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony. An IFPD internal investigation was started as a result.
Reed was not arrested or booked into jail but given a criminal summons because Butikofer indicated he was not a flight risk.
“We didn’t have any fear of him fleeing,” Butikofer said. “He was still employed, he had a residence in Jefferson County, he had an attorney representing him and he was cooperating with our investigation.”
The Idaho Falls Police Department released the following timeline of events in relation to Reed’s employment:
- Dec. 7, 2015: Blaine Reed is hired as an officer of the Idaho Falls Police Department
- Oct. 13, 2018: IFPD is made aware of a possible altercation that Reed had been involved with which had taken place the day before while he was off duty. Reed is sent home.
- Oct. 15, 2018: Reed is placed on administrative duty at the start of his first scheduled shift since IFPD was made aware of the incident.
- Oct. 15, 2018: Idaho Falls Police Department notifies Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office of the incident.
- Nov. 20, 2018: Reed is placed on administrative Leave
- Dec. 21, 2018: Jefferson County criminal charges are filed against Reed
- Dec. 27, 2018: Jefferson County formally notifies Reed of the charges
- Dec. 28, 2018: IFPD internal investigation begins, and Reed is formally notified
- Reed was scheduled for his next court appearance next month in Jefferson County.
Despite Reed’s troubles, Filicetti said in a Facebook post that his client “had a heart of gold and lived to serve the citizens of Fremont County and Idaho Falls. … Rest In Peace, my friend. Godspeed. This should never have happened.”