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Idaho Falls officer fatally shoots wrong man while searching for reportedly armed suspect

Idaho Falls officer fatally shoots wrong man while searching for reportedly armed suspect

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Idaho Falls shooting

Idaho Falls Police Department Chief Bryce Johnson speaks Monday to members of the press about an officer who shot and killed a man.

IDAHO FALLS — The Idaho Falls Police Department revealed details of an early Monday officer-involved shooting in which they said the man who was shot and killed was not the suspect they were looking for.

“The truth that we have to share with you is difficult and quite tragic,” Police Chief Bryce Johnson said.

Johnson revealed officers had been tracking a suspect wanted for felony battery on an officer who fled a traffic stop. He said that the man had been reported by a witness to have a gun and that officers tracked the suspect via GPS to a house near the intersection of Tendoy Drive and Syringa Drive.

When police arrived at the suspect’s reported location, they found a man in a black shirt with a gun, similar to the description of the suspect. Johnson said officers instructed the man to drop the gun.

Johnson said it’s unclear what happened then, but an officer shot and killed the man. Police then learned he was not a suspect, but a resident at the home.

The officer has been placed on paid administrative leave as the incident is investigated by the Eastern Idaho Critical Incident Task Force. Johnson said Idaho State Police will take the lead on the investigation.

Johnson did not name the officer involved in the shooting, the man who was shot or the suspect police were originally pursuing. He said the task force asked that the names of the officer and the suspect be withheld while they are questioned as part of the investigation. The family of the deceased asked that his name not be released.

“Sometimes everyone does what they think is right and tragedy happens,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the suspect was later found hiding in a shed on a nearby property and arrested. He did not say whether the suspect was armed as reported by a witness.

The suspect had been stopped by a Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office deputy just after midnight. He was reportedly wanted on warrants for felony battery on an officer and two cases of failure to appear.

The suspect reportedly ran as the sheriff put out an alert on his description. Johnson said another person in the car with the suspect stayed behind. That person reportedly shared a message from the suspect providing their GPS location near the intersection of Tendoy Drive and Syringa Drive.

A witness told police the suspect had run through their backyard on Holbrook Drive, and that they saw he had a gun.

Police surrounded the residence at Tendoy Drive. Johnson said the officers had their guns drawn when entering the property. It was then they confronted the deceased, leading to the shooting. Johnson said body camera footage captured the incident.

Police attempted life-saving measures on the man they shot. Idaho Falls Fire Department Emergency Medical Services also attempted life-saving measures but were unable to resuscitate the deceased.

In addition to the task force review, Johnson said the Use of Force Review Board will investigate the incident and determine if the officers involved followed department policy. The board also could recommend changes to department policy and training. Decisions on discipline or changes to department policy would be made by Johnson.

“There are not words to express how heavy our hearts are today,” Johnson said. “This situation is devastatingly tragic for the family, for the officer, and those that love and care about them. We all feel the weight of what has occurred today. Our sincere sympathies are with the family and friends of those involved, most especially the family of the deceased.”

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