Nicholas Neely

Neely

An Idaho Falls man who attacked and injured two police officers was sentenced to prison Sept. 3.

District Judge Joel Tingey sentenced Nicholas Neely, 27, to one-and-a-half to four years for possession of a controlled substance, two to seven years for burglary and two-and-a-half to five years for two counts of assault or battery on certain personnel.

Neely originally was arrested for the drug charges in September 2017. A plea agreement was reached and he was scheduled to be sentenced in March 2018. That same month, however, he was arrested for burglary. A plea agreement for the burglary case was reached, but Neely was arrested again in March 2019 after he stole an officer's Taser and attempted to use it on the officer.

Tingey said a rider sentence would have been an option before Neely was arrested for the burglary and the assaults on officers, but the violent nature of the offenses warranted a prison sentence.

"It kind of takes a lot of options off the table for me," Tingey said.

Neely was arrested in March after a woman reported he broke her house windows with his bare hands.

When Idaho Falls Police Department officers attempted to apprehend Neely he became combative. During the struggle Neely got a hold of one of the officer's Taser's and attempted to use it on an officer's head. The Taser did not respond because both cartridges had been deployed.

Sgt. Brian Trimble gave a victim impact statement at the sentencing, asking Tingey to give Neely a prison sentence.

"I initially thought this was going to be a lethal force encounter due to Mr. Neely's violent, aggressive actions," Trimble said.

Trimble discussed the injuries he and fellow officer Anthony Cox received that day. Cox was cut on the head by the Taser, and Neely punched Trimble in the face.

According to court records, Neely attempted to grab Trimble's gun, prompting him to punch Neely to stop him. Trimble suffered injuries to his hand that he said have not recovered six months later. He said the stress from the incident has effected his life at home and at work.

Trimble, Tingey and both attorneys noted that Neely crossed a line by attempting to use the officers' weapons against them, and that they could have used lethal force.

"It is only by the grace of God that Mr. Neely is standing here today to be sentenced for his crimes," Trimble said.

Public Defender John Thomas thanked the officers for not using lethal force. He said the video of the incident was "quite disturbing."

"This really is hero stuff," Thomas said. "You used real restraint when you really could have just killed this guy."

Thomas argued his client was remorseful. He said Neely was upset that day because he had learned his father was having a relationship with his girlfriend, and that the stress pushed him over the edge.

Bonneville County Deputy Prosecutor Alayne Bean argued that Neely's family life was not an excuse for his actions.

"We can't say to the community, 'Hey, if you have a really emotional and horrific thing happen in your family, you can respond with violence,'" Bean said. 

Bean added that Neely was being sentenced for four felonies and that he had prior criminal history.

Neely apologized to the victims in court, and asked the judge to still consider a rider.

Tingey, noted, however, that Neely had blown his chance at a rider by continuing to commit crimes after his first arrest.

"I just don't think a rider is appropriate at this point in time," Tingey said.

In addition to prison, Neely was also ordered to pay $2,000 in fines along with other fees and $400 for the public defender.

Reporter Johnathan Hogan can be reached at 208-542-6746.