Prosecutor: Officers actions justified in use of deadly force in October

March 4, 2020

The Blaine County Prosecuting attorney has determined that the officers who were forced to fire their weapons at Amber Dewitt on October 20, 2019 were justified in their actions.

Amber Dewitt died after pointing a weapon at an officer standing by her driver’s side window. Two additional officers who were standing on opposite sides of the vehicle also saw Dewitt unexpectedly retrieve a weapon and without explanation, point it at officers.  The officer standing at the window closest to Dewitt saw the weapon pointed at him from approximately 12-18 inches away. All the officers involved believed the weapon was a handgun and that she was going to shoot the officers near the driver’s side of the vehicle.

On October 24th, the Meridian Police Department, which led the Critical Incident Task Force investigation, issued a news release with photos of the type of BB gun Dewitt was holding, along with images of a similar looking 9mm handgun.  Those images are also attached to this release.

The Boise Police Department would like to thank the Meridian Police Department, who led the Ada County Critical Incident Task Force (CITF) investigation, and the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney for providing a complete and thorough review of the officer-involved shooting on October 20, 2019.

“As with any critical incident, this was a very difficult situation for everyone involved. Our hearts go out to all, including the deceased’s family and the officers who were involved,” said Deputy Chief Ron Winegar. “Our officers have hundreds of peaceful interactions with citizens every day.  Situations involving the use of deadly force are extremely rare and we are grateful that our officers were not physically injured in this incident.”

Additional information:

On October 20, 2019 at 6:21 a.m. Boise Police responded to Clover Drive for a report of a woman banging on doors looking for a person who had allegedly stolen her property.  The officer who arrived first on the scene spoke with the calling party and then approached the female person of interest who was sitting in the driver’s seat of a silver sedan in the middle of the road.  The officer immediately noticed that the female was overly nervous, trembling and acting unusual.  The officer asked the female for identification, but she was unable to produce any.  The officer observed an empty holster in the vehicle and when asked about it, the female stated her nephew just got a BB gun but did not answer questions about where the gun was currently.  The officer also asked the female about drugs in the car and she said there were not any drugs in the car.  Another police patrol car arrived on scene and two police officers approached the car. One officer stood near the backseat door on the driver’s side and the other officer stood on the passenger side of the vehicle.  During this time the first officer on scene observed a loaded syringe in the woman’s purse as she was looking through it and he took the purse and placed it on top of the vehicle.  Soon after that, the officer on the passenger side of the vehicle saw the female reach under the passenger seat and a teal blue and black gun fell to the floor.  The officer thought the female would acknowledge the presence of the gun and begin to back off but instead the female turned the gun to grab the grip and instantly brought it up, pointing it in the direction of the officer on the driver’s side of the car. Fearing that the officers on that side of the vehicle would be shot, the officer on the passenger side fired his weapon three times.  Simultaneously, the backup officer on the driver’s side of the vehicle saw the female point the pistol out the window and he fired his weapon at the female five times. The officer closest to the window did not have time to react other than try to move away.

The female driver was pronounced deceased at the scene. She was later identified as Amber Dewitt.  The Ada County Coroner found that Dewitt died from multiple gunshot wounds to the torso.

An investigation showed that Dewitt’s purse contained a syringe loaded with 50 units of a brown liquid which later tested presumptive positive for methamphetamine.  Inside the purse officers also located two prescription bottles, a mostly empty Methadone bottle, 15 grams of a crystalline substance in a container and a tube of Daisy BBs. During their investigation, CITF detectives also found evidence that Dewitt suffered from depression and other mental health issues and had previously mentioned “suicide by cop,” a term used to reference a situation in which a person forces a police officer to kill them by presenting a deadly threat.  Toxicology reports of Dewitt’s blood indicate the presence of Methamphetamine, Amphetamines, Methadone and EPPP (Methadone metabolites).

During the follow up investigation on scene, officers found several nearby vehicles on Clover Drive with windows that had been broken or shattered. Technicians on scene said the damage was consistent with damage caused by a BB from a BB gun. BBs were also found on the ground nearby.  CITF detectives were told by those who knew Dewitt that she planned to shoot out vehicle windows in her search for the person who stole her items. None of the vehicle windows were found to have been struck when officers fired their weapons.

The Boise Police Department has made the on-body camera video of the incident explained above. To request additional information please make a public records request. When an officer is compelled to use deadly force, it can be graphic and difficult to watch.  Viewer discretion is advised.

BB Gun
BB Gun
9mm Handgun
9mm Handgun

Contact: Boise Police Media Relations

(208) 570-6180 | BPDMedialine@cityofboise.org

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