Video shows suspect point gun at Idaho officers following high-speed pursuit
Police were searching for the suspect after he sent "threatening messages" to family; when officers conducted a traffic stop on him, the suspect drove off
By Sally Krutzig and Alex Brizee
The Idaho Statesman
BOISE, Idaho — An Ada County judge sentenced a man shot by police officers earlier this year near Timberline High School to up to 10 years in prison on Tuesday morning.
Gavin Donithorne, 23, admitted in court to sending threatening text messages to family members and said he wanted police to kill him.
Donithorne pleaded guilty to two counts of felony aggravated assault on a police officer and one count of felony eluding, all relating to a March 15 incident. Fourth District Judge Jonathan Medema sentenced Donithorne to five years fixed and five years indeterminate, meaning he will serve at least five years before being eligible for parole.
Authorities had been searching for Donithorne, who was driving from Oregon to Boise after sending “threatening messages” to family, the Idaho Statesman previously reported.
Ada County Sheriff’s Office deputies located Donithorne in Star and attempted to pull him over, but the defendant “eluded law enforcement going upwards of 100 mph,” and deputies followed his vehicle in a pursuit, the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office said in a news release.
Upon exiting his vehicle at East Boise Avenue and Apple Street in Boise, Donithorne pointed and “appeared to discharge” a weapon at officers after he exited his car, according to the Boise Police Department, whose officers had joined in the arrest attempt.
Boise Police Officer Nicholas Quintana, who has five years in law enforcement and joined the department in January, and an unnamed Ada County sheriff’s sergeant each fired their weapons at Donithorne, Boise police said. He was shot once.
Police later recovered a BB gun at the scene that Boise Police Chief Ron Winegar said “looked very, very real,” the Statesman previously reported.
After being shot, Donithorne tried to flee but was taken into custody by officers who pursued him on foot and brought him to a local hospital for treatment, according to police.
At his sentencing, Donithorne recounted the struggles he has had with mental health, including schizophrenia and depression, and described his history of violence at length. Donithorne had been previously convicted of two felony counts of assault in the third degree in Oregon.
Donithorne said in court Tuesday that he was suicidal at the time of the March shooting and did not want to hurt anyone — other than himself.
“I was just out of my head,” Donithorne said. “I was deliberately trying to hurt myself and trying to commit suicide. All I really want in life is to be a part of something. I just felt so tremendously depressed.”
Medema noted that Donithorne appeared to struggle with anger issues, and the judge was concerned by the threatening messages the Oregon man had sent before his arrest. Medema said he hoped prison time would make Donithorne think more seriously about consequences in the future.
“The only tool I have is taking away freedom because America is a system that values people’s liberty,” Medema said. “I’m glad to hear that you say you value yours because, hopefully, that means losing it will cause you to change how you behave.”
In addition to the prison term, the judge ordered Donithorne to pay restitution for a bank window that was broken in the shooting.
Officer, sergeant officially cleared in shooting
Investigating after the Critical Incident Task Force review, Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Fredback said that in the “mere seconds” law enforcement had to observe Donithorne that “any reasonable person would have perceived the threat of death or serious physical injury to be real,” according to a Boise Police Department news release later in the day Tuesday.
Fredback determined that both Quintana and the unidentified sergeant were justified in their actions.
In a news release, Boise police also publicized roughly one minute of Quintana’s body camera footage, along with surveillance footage. In the body camera footage, Donithorne pointed the BB gun at the officers, and Quintana fired his weapon after telling Donithorne to show him his hands. Quintana fired nine rounds at Donithorne, according to the news release.
The Ada County Sheriff’s Office sergeant fired give rounds at Donithorne, the release said. Quintana and multiple other officers ran after Donithorne along East Boise Avenue until officers detained and arrested him, according to the video footage.