Police in Idaho said they mistakenly shot and killed a man standing in his own backyard while officers were looking for someone who fled a traffic stop and was later found hiding nearby.
The Idaho Falls Police Department announced the shooting at a news conference Monday, with the police chief calling it “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,” Chief Bryce Johnson said.
The shooting victim had not been publicly identified as of Tuesday. A police news release cited a request for privacy from the victim’s family as the reason for withholding his name. The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office has identified the traffic stop suspect as 22-year-old Tanner J.N. Shoesmith.
Police officers were tracking a driver through an Idaho Falls neighborhood just after midnight Monday when they suspected the man, who had several warrants for violent behavior and was suspected of being armed, had fled into a home’s backyard.
Officers surrounded the home with their weapons drawn when a man wearing a black shirt, similar to one that the driver had been described as wearing, was seen in the backyard armed with a gun.
Officers instructed the man to drop the gun. An Idaho Falls police officer, who was wearing a body camera, fired a single shot, which struck the man.
Johnson said his department doesn’t “currently have the answers as to what exactly occurred during these moments.”
Attempts to save the man’s life were unsuccessful, the police department said.
It was later learned that the victim was not the man they were searching for but was instead a resident of the home. Shortly after the shooting, Shoesmith was found hiding in a nearby backyard shed and was taken into custody.
Shoesmith had several warrants for his arrest, including for felony battery on an officer and for failure to appear in court for previous charges of resisting arrest and providing false information to law enforcement. He also has a record of violent interactions with law enforcement, police said.
The officer who discharged his firearm has been placed on paid administrative leave as the incident is investigated by the Eastern Idaho Critical Incident Task Force. An internal investigation is also being conducted, Johnson said.