Local man was not pulled over because of stay-home order, police say
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IDAHO FALLS — Many of you have asked about a video making the rounds on social media apparently showing an Idaho Falls Police officer berating a local man for violating Gov. Brad Little’s stay-home order. Here’s what we learned.
On Saturday, March 28, Jake Ullery of Blackfoot posted a video that shows an Idaho Falls Police officer saying, “You shouldn’t even be in Idaho Falls on the governor’s orders. You’re supposed to stay home and only go out for essential things.” That video has gotten more than 8,000 views on Facebook and more than 80,000 views on TikTok.
With the fear caused by COVID-19 and the constant rumors about police enforcement of the governor’s stay-home order, it’s easy to see why the video has caused a stir. However, after speaking with the Idaho Falls Police Department and Ullery, it’s clear there is more to the story.
“Our officers started receiving calls that evening, around 6:45 that night, about groups of people meeting in different areas around town and street racing. That’s how this all started,” IFPD spokeswoman Jessica Clements said.
Ullery is a car enthusiast and had heard that there was a cruise around Idaho Falls planned for that evening. So he and his girlfriend hopped in his car and headed to the starting point.
“My goal was, one, enjoy the nice weather and two, take photography. My girlfriend had my camera. I was practicing my photography of moving cars,” Ullery said. “I got there, and there is a huge crowd of people at the starting spot.”
He said there wasn’t supposed to be a crowd. The organizer had posted warnings about not having a large gathering. Ullery decided to break off from the crowd with a few friends and drive around Idaho Falls.
Shortly after Ullery and his small group began cruising, the IFPD started getting dozens of calls about reckless driving.
IFPD officers and Bonneville County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the call and asked the drivers to break up the gathering to keep the roads safe and obey traffic laws, Clements said. The groups broke up initially, but it didn’t last for long.
“They would pick up, and they would move to other areas of town and start again,” she said.
Around 7:40 p.m., law enforcement again received multiple calls about reckless driving, speeding and street racing on 17th Street, Hitt Road and in nearby parking lots.
“Callers reported cars spinning doughnuts in parking lots, motorcycles doing wheelies on 17th Street and vehicles, speeding, cutting off other vehicles and otherwise driving recklessly, creating an unsafe environment for other motorists on major Idaho Falls thoroughfares,” Clements said.
Jayden Hill uploaded a video to his YouTube channel titled “Cruise 2020 Quarantine: Gets Busted.” The video specifically references Ullery’s video and shows much of what IFPD received reports about.
“We’re going to be racing around town and doing this little quarantine cruise,” Hill says in the video.
The video goes on to show motorcycles doing wheelies and cars speeding along 17th Street.
Law enforcement quickly responded.
“IFPD Officers, Bonneville County deputies and Idaho State Troopers responded to the area of 17th Street and stopped as many vehicles as possible, and addressed crowds that had regrouped in various areas. Drivers were told to cease and desist, and to go home,” Clements said.
Ullery said he, his small group of friends and a couple of motorcycles were stopped at a red light on 17th Street when a police officer pulled in behind them.
When the light changed, they all drove through the intersection, and the officer flipped on his lights.
“The lights turn on, and my girlfriend told me, ‘Hey, he’s pointing at you to pull over,'” Ullery said. “So I turn the blinker on and start moving into the right lane, and that’s when he did some things that were kind of weird.”
Ullery said as he began pulling onto a side street the officer cut in front of him with his hand out motioning him to stop then had Ullery’s two friends pull in behind him in the right lane.
“So he started screaming for license and registration. Without knowing what’s going on, that is when I told my girlfriend to turn on the camera,” Ullery said.
The Idaho Falls Police Department declined to release the name of the officer, as it might endanger him or his family.
In the video, the unnamed officer is seen asking Ullery what his plans are, and Ullery tells him that he’s going to head back to Blackfoot where he lives. That’s when the officer begins to yell at Ullery.
The officer says that Ullery will be charged if he’s stopped by any other law enforcement.
“This is ridiculous,” the officer says. “I’m not happy. You guys are acting like idiots.”
He said he felt the officer’s reaction was extreme.
“It was quite scary,” Ullery said.
He said he still isn’t sure why he was pulled over but believes it may be because his car and his friends’ cars fit the profile of the cars that were street racing and driving recklessly.
“It’s a lower car, has an exhaust system on it. It’s definitely a sporty looking car,” he said.
Clements said the traffic stop was related to the street racing that had been going on.
“While IFPD is not proactively stopping anyone in regards to the governor’s stay-home order, officers will continue to perform traffic and subject stops for normal police business, including speeding and reckless driving. Where needed, officers will continue to educate people about the governor’s order and discourage large groups of individuals meeting for the time being,” Clements said.
Clements said the IFPD has worked with car enthusiast groups previously and is willing to work with them in the future to set up events similar to the St. Anthony “cruisin cuz of corona” event Saturday.
Ullery said he doesn’t know who it was who was driving recklessly or why they felt the need to do what they did.
“But I can tell you that most of the car guys are pretty upset at the guys that ruined it for everybody else,” he said.
Although officers pulled over many vehicles Saturday night, Clements said no one was cited for violating Little’s order.