Idaho Falls, ID — As frequent readers of the Free Thought Project understand, police officers mistake innocent individuals for criminals all the time. Often times, their fear gets the best of them and these folks who have committed no crime and harmed no one, are beaten or arrested only to be exonerated down the road. One man in Idaho Falls, however, will not have a chance to be exonerated because the police who mistook him for a suspect — executed him.
“The Idaho Falls Police Department has core values, one of those values being integrity,” said Idaho Falls Police Chief Bryce Johnson in a press release Monday evening. “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.”
According to police, shortly after midnight early Monday morning, a Bonneville County Sheriff’s Deputy attempted to make a traffic stop at which point the vehicle came to a stop and the driver of the vehicle fled into a residential neighborhood. The deputy involved in the pursuit told fellow officers they were looking for a man in a black shirt.
During the search, police identified the man 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.
Police claim the suspect had a history of violent altercations with law enforcement which appears to be a cover for the way they acted when they found and then killed the innocent man.
According to police, the passenger in the vehicle that was originally pulled over never fled and stayed behind to talk to police. Police claim this passenger had received a message from the suspect, who — while on the run from the cops — took the time to message the passenger and send him his GPS coordinates.
According to police, these GPS coordinates — sent by the suspect who was running from cops, to the passenger he knew was still with the cops — showed him in the backyard of a residence on the corner of Tendoy Drive and Syringa Drive.
Police then surrounded this house and killed the homeowner in his backyard after claiming the homeowner had on a black t-shirt and was holding a gun.
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"We do not currently have the answers as to what exactly occurred during these moments," 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."
"Sometimes everyone does what they think is right and tragedies happen," the chief added.
After killing the innocent man, a brief investigation revealed that he was not the suspect and, in fact, lived in the home and had committed no crime. Moments later, down the road, a deputy reported seeing a man running and the suspect was located in the back yard of a house, hiding in a shed. The suspect, who police claim has a history of violent interactions with police, was taken into custody without incident.
According to a statement from the city of Idaho Falls:
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.
"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," Johnson said. "Our sincere sympathies are with the family and friends of those involved, most especially the family of the deceased."
Unfortunately, no amount of sympathies will bring back the innocent man whose life was taken by the ones claiming to protect him.