On December 4, 2023, an Idaho State Trooper and Idaho Falls Police Officers were involved in a shooting incident. One person, a 34-year-old male died during the incident. Preliminary information about the incident was released on December 4th. An update regarding the incident, including police camera footage and the names of the Idaho Falls Police Officers involved in the incident, is being provided at this time.
At 1:09 a.m. on December 4th, an Idaho State Police trooper initiated a vehicle stop for a traffic violation near the Candlewood Suites Hotel, located at 665 Pancheri Drive, on a 2002 Honda sedan. The vehicle stopped in the parking lot of the Candlewood Suites.
During the stop, the trooper requested assistance from an Idaho Falls Police K9 Officer. As the IFPD K9 Officer arrived on scene, the passenger of the Honda fired two rounds from inside the vehicle at the Trooper, exited the vehicle, then fired two rounds at the IFPD Officer, striking his patrol vehicle. The Idaho State Police Trooper returned fire. The passenger then ran from the stop.
Immediately after being fired upon, the Idaho Falls Police Officer and his K9 partner chased the suspect. The Officer paused at the corner of the hotel and fired his service weapon three times. The Officer and his K9 partner pursued the suspect on foot behind a neighboring business, Nugget CBD, where he lost sight of the suspect.
Additional Idaho Falls Police Officers responded to assist. The suspect was located in the Win Auto car lot, located on the corner of Pancheri Drive and Yellowstone Highway. When Officers contacted him in the car lot, the suspect was holding his gun to his own head while walking through the parking lot.
The suspect walked through the lot, stopping in the northeast corner of the lot. At that time, Officers were located at the northwest and southeast corners of the lot inline with the suspect and creating an L shape with their positions.
Idaho Falls Police Officers gave the suspect multiple instructions to drop the gun. The suspect did not drop the gun.
The Idaho Falls Police K9 Officer sent his K9 partner to apprehend the suspect, as a less lethal option. Before the K9 reached him, the suspect shot himself in the head.
Immediately after the suspect shot, a second Idaho Falls Police Officer on the northwest corner of the lot discharged his service weapon once striking the suspect in the leg. This officer heard the suspect’s shot and, from his vantage point, thought the suspect was shooting at officers in the southeast corner of the lot.
The K9 attached to the suspect as he is trained to do. The IFPD K9 Officer recalled his K9 and Officers moved in towards the suspect. The suspect’s firearm was removed from his reach, he was searched for any other weapons, and Officers began to attempt life saving measures. Personnel from Idaho Falls Fire & EMS responded and determined the suspect was deceased.
The entire incident, from the traffic stop to the point the suspect shot himself, lasted approximately eight minutes. Roadways around the scene were closed for several hours for the investigation.
After the incident, officers secured the scene and turned it over to the Eastern Idaho Critical Incident Taskforce. The EICITF is a team of investigators and professional staff from local law enforcement agencies who investigate police use of force and other critical incidents. Agencies involved in the incident cooperate, but do not conduct any part of the investigation.
The Eastern Idaho Critical Incident Task Force (EICITF) is continuing to investigate the incident, with the Bingham County Sheriff’s Office taking the lead. After the investigation is completed, it will be given to the Bonneville County Prosecutor’s Office which determines if the Officers’ actions were legally justified. This follows standard procedures regarding officer involved shootings.
The Idaho Falls Police Department also convenes a Use of Force Review Board, made up of internal department staff and Idaho Falls community members who have been appointed to the review board. This review board will review the incident to determine if department policies were followed in the incident and identify any areas for improvement.
The suspect in this incident has been identified as Marcos Cortez, a 34-year-old resident of Eastern Idaho.
The Idaho Falls Police Officers who fired their service weapons during this incident are Officer Mitch Bierma and Sergeant Kevin Goms.
Officer Bierma, the K9 officer who initially responded to the stop, has been an Idaho Falls Police Officer for eight years and a K9 officer for three years. Officer Bierma is an Arrest Control/Defensive Tactics Instructor, a Less Lethal Instructor, a Firearms Instructor, and is Crisis Intervention Team certified.
Sergeant Goms, who fired one round after the suspect shot himself, has been a police officer for 10 years, eight of which he has spent with the Idaho Falls Police Department. Sergeant Goms is a Taser Instructor, a High-Liability Topics Instructor, and holds an Advanced Idaho POST Certification.
Additional updates regarding the Prosecutorial Review and the Use of Force Review Board findings are expected to be released following the conclusion of the EICITF investigation, Prosecutorial Review and the Use of Force Review Board by the appropriate entities.
A prepared video package from this incident is available here: https://youtu.be/h1nE4z4HtJo
Additional footage, in it's original form without edits or redactions, is available upon request under the Freedom of Information Act.
A previous release regarding this incident is available here: https://www.idahofallsidaho.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=2533
UPDATE: Bonneville County, Prosecuting Attorney Randy Neal announced today, December 13, 2023, that he has determined the Idaho Falls Police officers’ actions were justified under the law as an act of self-defense. The press release from Prosecuting Attorney Neal's Office is available here: