The Idaho Falls Police Department defines Officer-Involved Shootings as any incident where, in the course of their duties, an Officer discharges their service weapon resulting in the death or injury of another person. As is standard protocol for any Officer-Involved Shooting, we immediately activated the Eastern Idaho Critical Incident Task Force (CITF) which responded to the scene to conduct the investigation.
This task force has been established for many years and is designed to allow a thorough and expert investigation into the incident to occur, and also ensures that investigation is independent from the involved agency. Investigators from multiple law enforcement agencies typically participate in each investigation with one agency acting as the lead investigative agency. In this case, the Idaho State Police will serve as the lead investigator.
For incidents that happen in Idaho Falls involving an IFPD officer, IFPD will fully cooperate in these investigations, but we will normally not participate in or conduct any part of the investigation. In this case, the CITF did request the use of an IFPD FARO scanner to document the scene. The FARO scanner provides a 3D reconstruction of the scene and can be an incredibly useful tool in investigations. Only a very few agencies in Idaho currently have a FARO scanner, and there was not another available for the CITF investigation.
Under the direction and supervision of the CITF, an Idaho Falls Police Officer trained to operate the FARO device did conduct a 3D scan of the scene which is being provided to the CITF. The use of this scanner is the extent of our involvement in this investigation.
The CITY is actively working to conduct the investigation into this incident. Because IFPD is not involved in the investigation, the Idaho Falls Police Department is not able to say how long this investigation will take. It may take several weeks, but it may be longer.
Once the CITF investigation is completed, the case and results will be sent to the Bonneville County Prosecutor. The Prosecutor will review the case and make a determination regarding whether the shooting was legally justified. This is the same process they follow in criminal cases that are brought to them by law enforcement.
Separate from the Prosecutor’s process, IFPD will also conduct an internal affairs investigation of the incident once the CITF investigation is complete. The purpose of the IFPD internal investigation following an Officer-Involved Shooting is to determine whether departmental policies and procedures were followed, and if the department standard to discharge the service weapon was met.
As a part of that process, the department will impanel a Use of Force Review Board which is made up of department personnel and community members. Two community members were recently appointed to the Use of Force Review Board, and a third will be appointed in the coming weeks. This appointment was made by Chief of Police Bryce Johnson and confirmed by the Idaho Falls Mayor and City Council.
This Use of Force Review Board will review all of the information regarding the incident. The Board will then make a recommendation to the Chief of Police as to whether department policies were followed. This board may also make other recommendations regarding department training and policies.
The Chief of Police will then make a final determination regarding whether or not the shooting occurred within the bounds of IFPD policy, if the department had provided the correct training, and if any changes or disciplinary actions are appropriate. Again, this process and resulting internal decisions are separate from any decision made through the Prosecutorial review.
The entire process—all phases combined--can take several weeks or several months. It is designed and intended to be very thorough and independent in each stage. It allows for multiple diverse, but informed perspectives. It is typically at the conclusion of all phases that IFPD and/or the Prosecutor may consider it appropriate to release any reports and/or videos of the incident or make additional public statements about the findings of the two investigations and any subsequent actions. This is the trajectory the Idaho Falls Police Department intends to follow in the coming weeks.
“The Idaho Falls Police Department has core values, one of those values being integrity,” said Idaho Falls Police Chief Bryce Johnson. “As we define integrity it means being honest and truthful at all times, even when the truths we have to tell may be difficult. Today, the truths we have to share with the community are difficult and incredibly tragic.”
The information shared at this time is not intended to assign blame, or to necessarily explain what occurred. There are outstanding questions to which answers are not currently available. There is still an investigation to be done that, as explained above, will not be conducted by the Idaho Falls Police Department in order to ensure that the investigation is fair and impartial. The information below is the information IFPD believes to be factually accurate at this time.
Shortly after midnight, a Bonneville County Sheriff’s Deputy attempted to make a traffic stop on a vehicle traveling on 1st Street in Idaho Falls. The vehicle came to a stop on the corner of Lincoln Drive just off of 1st Street and an occupant of the vehicle fled on foot into a residential neighborhood. The Deputy who initiated the stop broadcasted the direction the suspect had fled and a description of the suspect's clothing – which included a black shirt.
A number of Idaho Falls Police Officers and Bonneville County Sheriff’s Deputies entered the neighborhood to search for the suspect male. While searching the area, a resident on Holbrook told police officers that they had seen the suspect run through their yard and that they believed the suspect had a gun. The officer who spoke with the resident broadcasted the information to the other law enforcement personnel in the area searching for the suspect.
Also while searching the area, an Idaho Falls Police Officer spoke with a different resident on the corner of Tendoy Drive and Syringa Drive. The officer spoke briefly with the resident and informed him that law enforcement officers were looking for a person that had fled from a traffic stop and that officers and deputies would be in the area for some time.
During this time, law enforcement personnel were able to identify the suspect and found that he had multiple warrants for his arrest including Felony Battery on an Officer, and two Failure to Appear Warrants with original charges of Resisting/Obstructing Arrest, and Providing False Information to Law Enforcement. The suspect also had a history of violent interactions with law enforcement.
A second occupant of the suspect vehicle at the time the traffic stop was initiated remained in the vehicle to speak with law enforcement. This occupant showed law enforcement personnel a message they had received from the suspect sharing his GPS location with the occupant. Law enforcement personnel utilized this GPS location to determine the location of the suspect which showed him in the backyard of a residence on the corner of Tendoy Drive and Syringa Drive.
Officers and deputies surrounded the residence and backyard in order to prevent the suspect from fleeing. 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 heard yelling and approached the backyard where they encountered a man wearing a black shirt armed with a firearm. Officers gave instructions for the man to drop the gun.
“We do not currently have the answers as to what exactly occurred during these moments,” said Chief Johnson. “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.”
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.
Shortly after the shot was fired, a deputy in the area reported seeing a man running through the area. Officers and deputies tracked this man to a nearby residence where he was found hiding in a shed in the backyard of the residence. This man was positively identified as the suspect male who ran from the traffic stop and was taken into custody at that time.
The traffic stop was initiated at approximately 12:03 a.m. The entire incident – including the search, various interactions described above, the shooting, and the arrest occurred within approximately 20 minutes.
The Idaho Falls Police Officer who discharged his service weapon has been placed on Administrative Leave, which is the standard procedure per IFPD policy. The officer was wearing a department-issued body camera, which was activated during the time period that the shooting occurred. This body camera footage, along with all other body camera and car camera footage from officers on scene during any part of the incident, is in the process of being given to the Eastern Idaho Critical Incident Task Force.
At this time, IFPD will not be releasing the names of the individuals involved. This is both to allow the Eastern Idaho Critical Incident Taskforce time to conduct necessary interviews pertaining to their investigation, as well as to allow the family of the deceased time to make family notifications and begin to process what has occurred.
Earlier this morning, Chief Johnson and other IFPD leadership spoke with the family of the deceased. Chief Johnson has continued to speak with the family throughout the day. The family has asked that the department convey their wish to not be contacted by media at this time. On their behalf, IFPD asks that their desire for privacy be respected.
“There are no words to express how heavy our hearts are today,” said Chief Johnson. “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.”
The Idaho Falls Police Department would like to express our thanks to the Idaho Falls Fire Department and the Law Enforcement Chaplaincy of Idaho for responding to this incident and offering their support.
IFPD would also like to thank the Idaho State Police and investigators from other agencies who will be participating in the investigation and trust that they will be thorough and complete in their investigation.