Video from the dashboard camera of a Cottonwood Police Department cruiser showed a close-knit Idaho family that appeared nearly invulnerable to stun guns, police batons and fists during a melee in a Walmart parking lot March 21 in which one person was killed and one officer wounded by a gunshot.
Cottonwood Police Chief Jody Fanning showed the video during a news conference Friday morning and said no matter what tactics officers used, nothing appeared to deter the family of eight. The dash-cam was the only one of three that was operational that night, Fanning said.
The family had gathered outside their older model Chevrolet Suburban when officers arrived. The confrontation started when one of the officers said they would split up the family to talk with them about what happened inside the store, Fanning said.
But the father, 55-year-old Peter Gaver, and one of his sons stepped in and told police they wouldn’t allow them to separate the family, Fanning said.
Another officer approached the mother, 52-year-old Ruth Gaver, and her 11-year-old daughter when one of the brothers ran in between them. Police Sgt. Jeremy Daniels grabbed the man and the melee was on, Fanning said.
The family utilized tactics that had to be “taught,” Fanning said. For instance, they knew that punching officers on the body was futile because of their protective vests. Instead, the fought officers by grabbing at their eyes, ears and mouths and pulling hard.
They also had been taught to roll after they were shot with stun guns in order to break the wires and stop the shock, and to appear to give up by putting their hands in the air in order to get close to attack again.
The family refused orders to “get on the ground” and eventually overpowered Daniels. Two of the suspects, including Enoch Graver, battled the officer for his gun, which went off and wounded him in the leg.
Four more officers arrived and Enoch Graver, 21, was shot to death and his 18-year-old brother David Graver was shot in the abdomen.
Even with eight officers on the scene, nothing the officers tried appeared to stop the family, including the use of stun guns, pepper spray and police batons. In almost every instance, the suspects continued to fight the officers.
Fanning said to four people to get one of the brothers in handcuffs and two officers to get the remaining male suspects in cuffs.
A Walmart loss prevention employee, whom Cottonwood police knew, was also key in preventing more harm being done to family members or the original four officers on the scene, Fanning said. The employee fought to protect the officers throughout the brawl.
Fanning said he was not only proud of his officers and the Walmart employee for their roles, but of the civilians who came to the aid of Daniels.
The family included the father and sons Jeremiah, 29; Nathaniel, 27; David, Enoch; a 15-year-old boy; mother Ruth Gaver, 52; and an 11-year-old girl.
All were living out of the Chevrolet Suburban and were members of a traveling band called Matthew 24 Now, a reference to a Bible verse dealing with the end of times. The band’s Facebook page is rife with Biblical references.
Seven other Cottonwood police officers suffered cuts and bruises.