The role of an Idaho State Police trooper in a high-speed chase is now the subject of a second probe.
The July 2 incident began
when ISP tried to stop a northbound 2002 Ford pickup for speeding near the Nez Perce County town of Culdesac. Police said there were reports that the pickup had been stolen in Gooding County. That's when the suspect hit the gas and led police on a high-speed chase that topped 100 miles per hour near Lewiston. ISP attempted to slow down the vehicle by putting spike strips across the northbound lanes, but the suspect veered into the southbound lane and continued driving north.
Law enforcement officials said that the suspect tried to hit a trooper with the speeding vehicle, prompting the trooper to fire his weapon at the suspect. Police then attempted to bump the vehicle, causing it to spin back into the southbound lanes and roll over. The driver fled on foot, ran down an embankment and swam across a stretch of the Clearwater River, at which time police said they lost sight of him in trees and brush. A helicopter, tracking dog and law enforcement from four police agencies were dispatched to the scene as temperatures in the region climbed to 103 degrees. Hours later, the suspect, 31-year-old David Pegram, was arrested and charged with reckless driving, possession of a stolen vehicle, eluding and assault on a police officer.
ISP Trooper Hugh Powell was the subject of an investigation because he fired his weapon three times during the incident. He returned to work today.
However, this morning's Lewiston Tribune reports
that Powell is now the center of a second probe—this time an internal investigation by state police—to determine whether he used prudence in initiating the chase.
"We discourage our people from being involved in pursuits," ISP Capt. Lonnie Richardson told the Tribune.
"Pursuits are bad things."
The ISP investigation will begin with officers at the district level looking at the details before opening up the review to officers statewide. Ultimately, the investigation lands on the desk of the agency director, who will determine if any action is necessary.
"I guarantee it will be scrutinized extensively," Richardson told the Tribune.