NEZPERCE — Around 40 people gathered at a park in the small agricultural community of Nezperce on Saturday to show their support for Sean Anderson, a man who was injured in an officer-involved shooting last month.
As speakers demanded the release of information regarding the shooting, citizens took to the streets armed with guns to show their support for police officers.
“We’re here to back the local police officers, our friends, our family, our loved ones,” said Amy Jorges, who organized the citizen’s movement. “We are here to protect them and stand with them. And we are also here to protect life and property in this little town.”
Both sides remained peaceful surrounding the Justice Rally for Anderson, which was organized by Ammon Bundy, who led the 2016 armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Ore. One minor verbal dispute during the rally ended in a man being escorted from the park by law enforcement, but the man was later allowed to return.
Speaker David Barnett said a lot of unknowns remain regarding the July 18 incident in which Anderson was shot. He said Anderson is “not anti-cop,” but “pro-constitution.”
A news release from the Idaho State Police issued after the shooting stated a Lewis County deputy attempted a traffic stop on U.S. Highway 12 for an apparent equipment violation. Anderson initially stopped, but then drove off. A pursuit with multiple law enforcement agencies ensued, but ended with shots being fired, injuring Anderson.
Diego Rodriguez, the pastor of Boise Freedom Tabernacle Church, told the crowd the information regarding the incident needs to be released to the public, so everyone can draw their own conclusions.
“If Sean pulled a gun on a cop, then the cop as far as we are all concerned is within his right to fire back before he is shot,” Rodriguez said. “This is why you guys have dash cams, this is why you have body cams, this is why all this stuff is recorded. Just show us. It’s as simple as that.”
Lewis County Sheriff Jason Davis briefly addressed the crowd, stating the investigation is ongoing.
Anderson’s wife, Sandy, said her husband was pulled over because he allegedly did not dim his lights while driving.
Last week, Idaho County deputies invited Bundy and the investigation team of the Real 3 Percenters Idaho to see evidence regarding the incident. While Bundy refused, the other group agreed.
A statement released by the 3 Percenters group on social media Friday stated they reviewed footage from the Idaho County deputy involved and were able to listen to the duration of the 911 call.
“Throughout this call, Mr. Anderson was, in our team’s opinion, agitated, aggressive and threatening,” reads the statement. “Although none of this should be construed as being a complete picture of the night in question, it does begin to paint a picture of Mr. Anderson’s demeanor and mindset during the incident.”
According to the statement, Anderson responded to officers’ commands following the pursuit by saying he didn’t have a gun and said “here we go.” The statement says it appears a shotgun is fired, followed by what appears to be fire from a handgun.
“The deputy’s body cam footage our team viewed begins as the peace officer exits his vehicle and begins firing 6-8 rounds at Mr. Anderson,” reads the statement. “As the officers approach the vehicle, the driver’s side door is seen in the open position and a pistol-grip shotgun is seen lying on the ground.”
Anderson’s wife, Sandy, delivered a message to Eric Parker, of the 3 percenters group, while speaking to the crowd.
“How dare you elevate yourself to see that information before me, his wife, was given that,” Sandy said shortly before tearing up the group’s statement. “I have not even seen a police report and the information that I have seen, that’s been posted in the newspapers, does not have the full report of what I’ve been privy to. They left out certain parts.”
She said the group’s “interpretation” of the incident is “garbage.”
Bundy addressed the crowd, but did not speak about Anderson. The Andersons were among the last four holdouts during the protest at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
Instead, Bundy spoke about the overreach of government.
Following the speakers at the justice rally, those in attendance drove through town while honking their horns. One of the cars featured a sign that read “my lights are dim.”
Sandy Anderson said her husband was transferred to the Kootenai County Jail. According to its inmate list, he was moved to the facility Friday. Earlier reports state he is charged with felony aggravated assault on a peace officer.
Tomtas may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 848-2294. Follow her on Twitter @jtomtas.