Home U.S. Idaho mom sues Boise police over son’s fatal shooting, this time in...

Idaho mom sues Boise police over son’s fatal shooting, this time in federal court


The mother of Zachary Snow — a 26-year-old Boise man who had a history of mental illness and was shot and killed by police in 2021 — has sued the Boise Police Department again, this time in federal court.

In October 2021, Melissa Walton, of Clarkston, Washington, contacted local authorities after learning her son, Snow, was suicidal and attempting to jump off a structure near downtown Boise. Officers located Snow in a parking lot near South Capitol Boulevard and West Myrtle Street and quickly approached him, drawing their guns, according to body camera footage and a 2022 news release. Snow then pulled out a hard black object from his waistband and “took a shooter’s stance,” police said. Two officers fired their weapons, striking Snow several times.

He died three days later at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise.

In a 12-page wrongful death lawsuit, filed within the U.S. District of Idaho, Walton’s attorneys alleged officers Matt Jacobs and Clifton Snodderly used excessive force by “unreasonably” shooting him and violating his Fourth Amendment right.

The lawsuit accused the officers of violating their training by shooting and killing Snow, who was experiencing a mental health crisis. The lawsuit also accused the department of failing to train, instruct, supervise, investigate and discipline the officers involved in Snow’s shooting.

Both Jacobs and Snodderly were cleared by an outside prosecutor and the city’s police oversight office for shooting Snow. Gem County Prosecutor Erick B. Thomson, who reviewed an investigation into the shooting by the Ada County Critical Task Force, previously said the officers were justified in using deadly force and “acted in self-defense.”

Walton and her attorneys previously sued the Boise Police Department and the responding officers in the 4th Judicial District. That lawsuit is ongoing, and a jury trial is scheduled for March 2024, online court records showed.

Boise police declined to comment citing pending litigation.

READ MORE: Boise picks police oversight director, strives for ‘accountability’ amid shootings

Lawsuit says officers rushed in

Snow had a history of mental illness and was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder at 18, according to the federal lawsuit. Walton previously told the Statesman that he would have made officers shoot him rather than face the possibility of going back to prison.

In November 2016, Snow pleaded guilty to felony possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to at least two years with a maximum sentence of seven years. He was released from prison in June 2021, according to online records.

Walton told an officer with the Boise Police Department that Snow was “depressed, off his meds and he was unarmed,” the lawsuit said.

Melissa Walton, center, speaks about her son’s death at the hands of Boise police officers at a news conference in 2022 at the Ada County Courthouse. She is joined by Christian Contreras on her right, and Humberto Guizar on her left, lawyers in her lawsuit against the Boise Police Department.

In the lawsuit, Walton’s attorneys criticized the way officers approached Snow, accusing them of rushing in and said the department failed to properly contact people experiencing a mental health crisis. The lawsuit added that Snow wasn’t committing a crime, harming anyone or doing anything to cause officers to believe he “was a threat to the officers” or to the public.

The police department previously said Snow had a felony warrant for failing to appear for a hearing, but KTVB reported the warrant was actually for a misdemeanor.

The lawsuit also alleged the department’s policies have resulted in “repeated incidents” of police shootings and excessive force against community members. In 2023, the Boise Police Department shot six people, with four of those shootings being fatal, according to a database maintained by the Statesman.

‘Hey bud, I called police,” Walton told Snow after calling law enforcement, according to the lawsuit. “They’re looking for you. Go talk to them, they’re going to help you.”

Walton later told the Statesman the last message she told her son was a lie, and that “police didn’t help him, they killed him.”