A police officer fatally shot an Idaho man in his backyard after mistaking him for someone being sought by the police, the authorities said Monday, announcing an investigation into the shooting.
The police did not identify the victim or the officer who shot him. The Idaho Falls Police Department said that the man being pursued was later found hiding in a shed, where he was arrested.
The officer was placed on administrative leave, and Chief Bryce Johnson called the case “incredibly tragic,” the police department said in a statement. Jessica Clements, a spokeswoman for the police, said Tuesday that the department would not release the victim or officer’s names until after the initial stages of the investigation are completed, and that the victim’s family had requested that his name not be shared.
In its statement, the police department said that the Idaho State Police would lead an investigation into the shooting, which took place in Idaho Falls, a city of about 63,000 residents about 250 miles east of Boise. After the investigation, the case will be sent to the Bonneville County prosecutor’s office to determine any possible charges, it said.
The statement also said that the Idaho Falls Police Department would conduct a separate internal investigation to determine whether its policies were followed.
The officer wore a body camera that was on during the shooting, and that footage will be part of the investigation, the department said. The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office identified the arrested man as Tanner J. N. Shoesmith, 22, and said he was booked at a county jail on outstanding warrants and a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest.
The shooting took place shortly after midnight on Monday, only minutes after a Bonneville County Sheriff’s deputy tried to make a traffic stop for a broken tail light in Idaho Falls.
The vehicle stopped on a corner, and a man fled into a residential neighborhood, the police said. A woman remained in the car and spoke to sheriff’s deputies, the authorities said.
The deputy then radioed that the man had fled, reporting the direction and a description of his clothing, including a black shirt.
Officers from the Idaho Falls Police Department and Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office arrived and started searching for the man.
A resident told an officer that the man had run through a yard, and “that they believed the suspect had a gun,” the police said. The officer relayed that information to the others.
As the search continued, the police said, the authorities identified the man as someone with “multiple warrants” for his arrest, including for felony battery on an officer, resisting or obstructing arrest, and providing false information to law enforcement.
The woman in the car showed officers a message that allowed them to trace the man’s GPS location, showing that he was in the backyard of a nearby residence, the police said.
“Officers and deputies surrounded the residence and backyard in order to prevent the suspect from fleeing,” the department said. It added that officers arrived with their guns drawn because of the report that he may have been armed and because of his “prior history of violence when interacting with police officers.”
The officers then heard yelling and approached the backyard, where they found a man wearing a black shirt and holding a gun.
The department said that the officers told him to drop the gun. At some point in the confrontation, one of the officers shot the man.
“We do not currently have the answers as to what exactly occurred during these moments,” Chief Johnson said. Officers and emergency medical personnel from the fire department tried to save the man, but were unsuccessful, he said.
The officers later learned that the victim was not the man they were searching for, but a resident at the address.
“There are no words to express how heavy our hearts are today,” Chief Johnson said in the statement. “This situation is devastatingly tragic for the family, for the officer and those that love and care about them.”
After the shooting, a deputy in the area reported seeing another man running in the vicinity. The officers found him “hiding in a shed in the backyard of the residence” and arrested him, the police said.
In all, the episode, from the traffic stop to the shooting and arrest, took about 20 minutes.
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