BOISE, Idaho — An Ada County jury has decided Idaho State Police retaliated against a detective after he raised concerns over a fatal crash investigation.

Brandon Eller was awarded $1.5 million in damages and $30,500 in lost wages by the jury late Tuesday, the Idaho Statesman reported (http://bit.ly/2xNELXH ).

Eller accused police officials of meddling in an investigation into a 2011 crash, in which a Payette County sheriff’s deputy struck and killed a civilian.

Some at the agency thought the civilian was at fault, while others believed it was the deputy. Eller claimed those who sided with the civilian saw their careers plummet, while those who took the agency’s side moved up the ranks.

The agency did not have any comment on the verdict, State Police spokesman Tim Marsano said.

“Brandon is overwhelmed,” Eller’s attorney Erika Birch said. “The only way ISP was going to be held accountable in any of this was by going all the way through a trial and having a jury render a verdict, a verdict that tells ISP we are not going to stand for this.”

Eller still works for the agency.

He sued under the Idaho Protection of Public Employees Act, which protects “the integrity of government by providing a legal cause of action for public employees who experience adverse action from their employer as a result of reporting waste and violations of law, rule or regulation.”

This was the second Ada County jury to support such a whistleblower claim this year. On March 14, a jury found in favor of Rich Wright, who claimed the county fired him in part for ordering an investigation into allegations that a manager with the county commissioners’ office was harassing employees. The jury awarded Wright $1.7 million. The judge also awarded him $664,527 in legal fees.


Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com