NAMPA — Nampa Police Cpl. Bryce Martin had only about four hours of sleep when he showed up to assist at a routine traffic stop. It was a Tuesday, the second day of his four-day shift, and the night was relatively slow, with only a failure-to-yield traffic stop earlier in the night, he would later tell investigators.
Martin had just bought a large drink from Jacksons when he heard Officer Mason Foster call out a traffic stop over the radio. He decided to provide backup.
That traffic stop on Feb. 13, 2018, led to a fatal police chase. During the pursuit, the suspect’s passenger, 36-year-old Georgia Maude Carrera, fell or jumped from the van as it sped around a corner. Martin didn’t see her fall, and his vehicle hit her as she lie on the ground in a dark intersection, alongside debris from the van; it wasn’t until later that he realized he may have hit a person, according to body camera footage.
The Idaho Press has secured the footage of the chase from the Nampa Police Department, along with police officers’ interviews with investigators from Idaho State Police, which have revealed more details of the pursuit.
Idaho State Police led the investigation into the incident. Neither Martin nor Foster faced charges.
INITIATING THE TRAFFIC STOP
Martin, who had been with Nampa Police Department for more than 12 years at the time, was acting as field supervisor on the night of the pursuit. That night, Foster, who’d been with the department for two months, radioed in saying he was pulling over a driver who’d failed to properly use a turn signal, according to Foster’s interview with ISP investigators. He stopped the driver, 46-year-old Joe Nevarez, at the Chevron gas station on Second Street South.
During the stop, Nevarez was agitated and failed to listen to Foster’s commands; he claimed police were always harassing him, according to body camera footage.
Initially, Foster did not notice a woman sitting in the back of the van until he heard her ask, “Can I get out?” He asked for her information, and he said she seemed “hyped up,” according to his interview with investigators. Carrera gave her correct last name but not her correct first and middle name.
Foster suspected the two were under the influence of methamphetamine, so he called a K-9 unit. Carrera asked Foster multiple times if she could leave the vehicle while Foster struggled to get information from Nevarez.
“Can I get out, though?” she asked Foster.
“No, ma’am, not right now. Just hang tight,” Foster said a final time before returning to his patrol vehicle, according to Foster’s body camera footage.
While Foster made some calls, Martin noticed what appeared to be a machete in a sheath in the vehicle, according to a police report.
Officer Brad Boster and K-9 Diesel arrived and made several positive hits on the van. Martin then noticed the woman clutching a bag, which he hadn’t seen before, in her lap, according to Martin’s interview with ISP. Around this time Nevarez yells at Martin, but because the passenger window was rolled up he couldn’t hear what he was saying.
Martin reported back to the other two officers that they needed to get Nevarez out of the vehicle because he was growing agitated, according to body camera footage.
The footage shows Foster asking Nevarez to step out of the vehicle, and Nevarez saying, “Oh (expletive) you!” and speeding away.
THE PURSUIT BEGINS
As Martin pursued, he believed a few things, he told ISP investigators two days later:
- There was some kind of weapon in the vehicle.
- A woman was in the backseat, though he didn’t know the relationship.
- Foster may have been hit by the van as it sped away.
The pursuit began at about 12:15 a.m. with a left turn onto Second Street South. Martin was on the wrong radio channel. As he tuned to the primary channel, his drink fell into his lap. Martin was attempting to fasten his seat belt, clear items bouncing around his vehicle and tune the radio when he saw Nevarez’s van turn north onto 18th Avenue South, he told investigators.
Martin took the corner with a wide turn because he did not know where the van would be, he told investigators. Though body camera does not show the street view, it appears Martin hit Carrera only about 20 seconds into the pursuit, two blocks from where the chase began, according to a review of the footage.
He remembered the corner being extremely dark, but he saw a few items in the roadway in his peripheral vision. He didn’t see anything come out of the van, he told ISP investigators. He said he ran over something, but it didn’t feel like he hit anything large.
Foster, who followed Martin in the pursuit, later told investigators the intersection of 18th Avenue South and Second Street South is the darkest in the city. That night, he said, it looked like a “yard sale” because of all of the items that were in the street.
Foster had a ride-along passenger with him that night. As they turned the corner, one of them can be heard on the body cam footage saying, “Oh, that’s the chick.”
Foster continued in the pursuit, and roughly two minutes later reported on the radio that the woman had “bailed out” around 12th Avenue. He would later tell investigators he saw Carrera lying in the street, and she appeared to be dead.
While Martin pursued the van, he heard radio conversation about a woman in the road, but he thought it was unrelated. He believed there were still two people in the van, he told investigators. He again heard radio traffic about an unresponsive woman at an intersection he had traveled through.
During the pursuit, Nevarez blew through stop signs, Foster told investigators. He also sped through residential areas — at one point reaching 85 mph, according to body camera footage — before his van lost a tire.
The pursuit ended near the intersection of Highway 45 and East Locust Lane in south Nampa after Martin used a PIT maneuver (pursuit intervention technique). According to body camera footage, the pursuit lasted almost five minutes.
Martin told investigators it was only in the moments after the pursuit ended that he realized the woman was not in the van.
“I just need a second,” he said before shutting his body camera off. Later, he said, “I was good until they said that and I realized the odds are it’s pretty good that I…” Martin trailed off. “… I thought everything went pretty good except for her decision.”
Martin praised Foster for his call outs during the pursuit, according to body camera audio from after the arrest.
“Honestly, I was freaking in shock,” Foster said. “I’m sorry I didn’t start calling it out sooner.”
“No, no, no, no, you’re good. I didn’t know what happened. … I was afraid you got hit or hurt,” Martin said.
Martin advised his sergeant that he had heard the radio traffic and hit something during the pursuit, but indicated “he did not think it was a person but was beginning to think it could have been,” according to the ISP reports.
Both Martin and Foster were taken from the scene; they gave blood and urine samples. They were briefly put on paid administrative leave, as is department policy when police are involved in a fatal incident.
As Nevarez was being taken into custody, other officers responded to the intersection where Carrera’s body was still lying in the street.
Boster, who was third in pursuit, watched Foster’s vehicle turn onto 18th Avenue South and saw thick dust in the air and movement on the ground under Foster’s tire. He wrote in his police report that it was a sweatshirt and bag moving in the wind.
He then found Carrera lying in the street. She was not breathing.
The area was dark with no street lights, a scene report from ISP noted. Investigators found no tire marks in the area, but found a green and brown backpack to the southeast of Carrera’s head. They also found flannel pants, a gray sweatshirt, a green canvas bag, and a tan and blue bag containing clothing on the ground near the center line of the road.
Carrera suffered blunt force trauma to the head, which the coroner ruled as the cause of death. She also suffered five broken ribs and a contusion to her right lung below the broken ribs, according to the autopsy report from ISP.
Abrasions were on Carrera’s sacrum, near the tailbone area, believed to have been hit when she fell from the van. A toxicology report revealed she had methamphetamine, amphetamines and caffeine in her system at the time of her death.
The camera footage and interview records from investigators do not explain how and why Carrera exited the van.
Nevarez pleaded guilty to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, felony eluding and possession of a controlled substance, and in August he received a sentence of up to five years in prison.
Just five months later, Nampa Police was involved in another fatal pursuit. This time, a drunk driver leaving the Getaway Bar in Nampa eluded officers. While fleeing Nampa police on July 14, 2018, Joseph Sena crashed into a Ford Mustang, killing both people inside, 51-year-old Rosa DeLaFuente and 55-year-old Adam Zamudio.
Sena, who had an extensive criminal history and was on parole at the time of the crash, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for two counts of vehicular manslaughter.
But the Nampa Police Department also came under fire from families of the victims. A tort claim was filed in December, stating Sena “was being recklessly and needlessly pursued by several Nampa Police Officers at a high rate of speed with indifference to the safety and well-being of the general public.”