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ISP report details investigation into Ryan Lee: officers, others provide account of briefing that led to injured sgt.

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Editor’s note: This story contains strong language.

After Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee resigned last Friday at the request of Mayor Lauren McLean, BoiseDev is learning more about the events that led up to his resignation.

Through a public records request, BoiseDev obtained a 72-page Idaho State Police report detailing accounts of what happened during a BPD briefing that allegedly left officer Sergeant Kirk Rush severely injured last fall.

As BoiseDev previously reported, Idaho State Police investigated the incident, and the Ada County Prosecutor referred the matter to the Clearwater County Prosecutor’s Office. Clearwater officials did not recommend Lee be charged but did write that it was a “close call.

For the first time, the report lays out what Lee told ISP, as well as an accounting from Rush and many witnesses to the incident. The report includes interviews with 25 witnesses whose names have been redacted. You can read the full report embedded below.

What ISP says happened

On October 12, 2021, Lee came into a morning briefing to introduce the newly hired Deputy Chief Tammany Brooks. During the briefing, witnesses said Lee was discussing a change in policy regarding the Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint (LVNR), which BPD recently stopped using.

Lee then began going over “alternative techniques” that officers could use to restrain and control someone without using an LVNR. He called Sgt. Rush up to the front of the room.

The witness accounts vary in many aspects, including of Lee requested Rush to volunteer or if it was a command.

Lee then demonstrated two control maneuvers. The first is known as the “clinch” or “tie,” which Lee says BPD officers had been recently trained on, but some witnesses say they had never seen the technique. The second move, called the “faith healer,” Lee admitted was not used within the department, which is why he claimed “he was being mindful while demonstrating this move to ensure it’s not painful or uncomfortable while tilting his head back.”

Rush’s account

ISP interviewed Rush about the incident. The report recounts how he described the event.

“Chief Lee grabbed the back of his neck and forced him toward the ground and dragged him around like a dog,” the ISP report recounted. “It was humiliating for him to be led around like that in front of his peers, and it felt ridiculous… he is then either struck or pulled back in the forehead and forced down toward the ground. The chief was behind him and grabbed or struck his forehead, and he didn’t see it coming and had no idea what was happening. His neck hyperextended backwards, and his neck cracked.”

Many witnesses stated that Rush was unprepared for what was about to happen as defensive tactic demonstrations occur in training sessions where participants stretch and are prepared – not in patrol shift briefings.

Some witnesses, including Lee, said Rush didn’t appear injured after what happened. However, others disagreed, with one saying, “oh fuck, that would have hurt my neck, that would have hurt me.”

“He didn’t tell him what he was going to do or how he was going to manipulate his body, it just happened quick,” another witness said.

Another officer told investigators that he didn’t understand why Lee was demonstrating the move when “it isn’t something they can use or something that they train on. It seemed like he was just wanting to show off his martial arts skills.”

Lee is a third-degree black belt in Judo, according to the report.

Many of the witnesses said the demonstration made them “feel uncomfortable” but also said they didn’t believe the Chief was trying to hurt Rush.

Other witnesses didn’t take any issue with Lee’s maneuver, and Lee himself told investigators it was “totally appropriate.”

Why was Rush selected?

Rush told investigators he believes Lee selected him for the demonstration because he challenged Lee on the Boise K9 unit, which Rush oversees. The report says Lee wanted to switch to a “bark and hold” method rather than the current “bite and hold” method. The briefing incident occurred sometime shortly after.

Most witnesses, who may not have been privy to the K9 discussion, told investigators they assumed Lee selected Rush because he was the closest officer nearby.

A minute or two after the demonstration, Rush said that Lee mockingly asked him if he was going to fill out an SD1 form, a form that officers fill out when they are injured. “He was essentially calling me a pussy,” Rush told investigators.

Rush said he had headaches, spasms, and radiation shooting down his left shoulder after what happened, which worsened within the next few days.

Lee said he was unaware of any injuries Rush sustained until he went into Rush’s cubicle several weeks later to apologize because he heard Rush was “embarrassed” about the event. The chief said he was “caught off guard” to hear Rush had been hurt.

Within the following weeks, Rush was removed from Lee’s line of command and reported to Deputy Chief Tammany Brooks.

Full ISP report

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Gretchen Parsons - BoiseDev Managing Editor
Gretchen Parsons - BoiseDev Managing Editor
Gretchen Parsons is BoiseDev's managing editor. Contact her at [email protected].

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