Idaho Falls Police Officer Mistakenly Shoots & Kills Man in His Own Backyard
Idaho Falls Police were searching for an armed suspect when the tragedy occurred.
An Idaho Falls police officer fatally shot a man in his own back yard Monday, while searching a neighborhood for a suspect they believed to be armed.
The incident started when a Bonneville County Sheriff's deputy made a routine traffic stop shortly after midnight on Monday according to a statement made by Idaho Falls Police. The suspect took off running while the passenger remained in the vehicle.
Idaho Falls police officers and Bonneville County Sheriff's deputies were called to the scene and began searching for the suspect. Police said the suspect was wearing a black shirt and took off in the direction of a residential neighborhood.
A resident told an officer they had seen the suspect run through their yard and believed he was holding a firearm. As the search progressed, police learned that the suspect also had numerous warrants for resisting/obstructing arrest. He also had charges of felony battery on an officer and providing false information to law enforcement according to authorities.
At some point during the search, the passenger who had remained in the vehicle received a text message from the suspect and shared his GPS location with police. The GPS pinpointed on a backyard in the neighborhood where officers were in the midst of their search.
"Officers and deputies surrounded the residence and backyard in order to prevent the suspect from fleeing," the statement said. "Due to the information that the suspect may be armed, and a prior history of violence when interacting with police officers, law enforcement personnel entered the location with their service weapons drawn."
Officers reported that they heard yelling and saw a man wearing a black shirt. He was armed with a gun and officers ordered him to drop the firearm, according to police.
“We do not currently have the answers as to what exactly occurred during these moments," Idaho Falls police Chief Bryce Johnson said. "We do know that during this interaction, an Idaho Falls police officer discharged his service weapon firing one shot which struck the man."
"Officers attempted life-saving measures but they were unsuccessful. Emergency medical personnel from the Idaho Falls Fire Department also responded and were also unable to provide any lifesaving aide to the man," Johnson said.
The statement continued: "Ultimately, officers and deputies determined that the man that had been shot was not the suspect male but was actually the resident of that address."
The actual suspect was later located in another backyard, hiding in a shed. He was arrested, though it is unknown at this time whether he was actually armed.
The officer has been placed on administrative leave while an independent investigation has been launched by the Eastern Idaho Critical Incident Task Force. Body cam footage of the incident has not been released at this time. The Idaho Falls Police will also conduct an internal investigation to find out if proper protocols were followed.