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Kuna man settles suit with law enforcement for wrongful arrest and retaliation

Posted at 12:04 PM, Jun 26, 2024


Earlier this week, we settled a lawsuit with Mr. Heikkola, stemming from an incident in January 2023. It wasn't our best day. It is the expectation that Ada County deputies perform to the best of their abilities every day --- while keeping people's constitutional rights in the forefront of their minds, while also keeping our community safe.
For anyone to claim we are trampling on someone’s constitutional rights simply isn't true.The reality is, we have hundreds of contacts every day with people of all different backgrounds, religions, ethnicities and socioeconomic standings. While the vast majority of those interactions go well, occasionally we fumble and miss the mark.
Part of the settlement was to include additional constitutional policing training; fortunately, we had already implemented this training prior to the settlement. We will now  also include a scenario similar to Mr. Heikkola’s in our scenario-based training. We are one of few law enforcement agencies across the country with routine built-in training time. Every patrol deputy receives 9.5 training hours per month. These blocks of training include topics such as firearms training, scenario-based training, legal updates, EVOC, de-escalation techniques, arrest and control techniques, CPR and first aid, and more. 
Part of our culture at the Ada County Sheriff's Office is to always strive to be better – and learning from this incident will help us to do just that.  
Sheriff Matt Clifford, ACSO

June 26

Back in January 2024, Kuna resident and Treasure Valley businessman Michael 'Mick' Heikkola filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court against Ada County and seven Ada County sheriff’s deputies serving as Kuna police officers.

RELATED | "Is that a crime?" Kuna man suing Ada County and several sheriff deputies for 'wrongful arrest'

Heikkola says he was wrongfully arrested in 2023, outside the Kuna Police Department, and charged with resisting and obstructing officers after he took a look inside police vehicles while stopping by the station to return an unused prescription.

Heikkola was charged with “resisting and obstructing officers,” but an Ada County judge concluded that there was never any basis to stop, detain, or arrest him.

Now, a settlement agreement has been reached in the federal civil rights suit between Ada County and Heikkola requiring the County to compensate him for the harm he experienced.

The settlement also requires new specific scenario training resembling Heikkola's case for officers in order to prevent others from experiencing similar treatment. A public statement about the settlement and training is also required from the County.

“I am satisfied with the outcome and I am confident that the changes being made in the Ada County Sheriff’s Office training will deter this from happening to others,” Heikkola said about the settlement.

“Neither Mick Heikkola nor any other Idahoan should ever be put through anything like this,” said Ritchie Eppink, one of Heikkola’s attorneys and a co-founder of Wrest Collective, a nonprofit, community-based nonprofit law firm in Boise. “Though nothing can make right a wrongful and unconstitutional arrest, this settlement will remind Ada County and its law enforcement officers that they are not above the law and that the violation of individual liberties carries an intolerable price.”

Wednesday June 26, The Ada County Sheriff's Office sent a statement reading, "Following a federal judicial settlement conference, Ada County has resolved the lawsuit brought by Mick Heikkola over his arrest at the Kuna Police Station on January 17, 2023 (Heikkola v. Ada County, District of Idaho Case No. 1:24-cv-24). As part of resolving the lawsuit, all incoming and existing Ada County Sheriff’s Office deputies are receiving and will continue to receive specific scenario training regarding Mr. Heikkola’s arrest."