Idaho police shot and killed a man in his own backyard Monday, only minutes after talking to him and determining he was not the man they were looking for.
That man was found hiding in a shed in somebody else’s backyard and has been arrested.
But now Idaho Falls police must explain why they shot and killed the wrong man.
The incident took place shortly after midnight Monday when a Bonneville County sheriff’s deputy pulled a car over for a broken taillight, prompting a male passenger to hop out and disappear into a residential neighborhood.
The deputy radioed for backup, describing the fleeing man as wearing a “black shirt,” according to a press release from the Idaho Falls Police Department.
Idaho Falls police and Bonneville sheriff’s deputies responded to the call and began combing the neighborhood for the man whom they learned had several outstanding warrants, including one for felony battery on an officer, so they considered him armed and dangerous.
As they were looking for the man, police talked to a couple of residents in the neighborhood, including a man who lived in a corner house who happened to be wearing a black shirt. They informed that man they were searching for an armed man.
Meanwhile, a female occupant of the car that had been pulled over received a text message from the suspect which she showed to police. Police said the message allowed them to use GPS to pinpoint his exact whereabouts – which happened to be in the backyard of the man they had spoken with.
As they surrounded the property, they spotted a man with a gun wearing a black shirt in the backyard whom they claim refused commands to drop the gun which is why they shot and killed him.
It was only after they shot him that they realized he was not the suspect but the resident whom they had spoken with moments earlier.
Eventually, they found the suspect hiding in a shed in another backyard and he was arrested without incident about 20 minutes after the initial traffic stop, according to East Idaho News.
An Idaho Falls police officer spoke with a man who lived at the corner of Tendoy and Syringa drives. The officer reportedly said they were looking for a person who ran from a traffic stop and would be in the neighborhood.
Police also spoke with the woman who was in the car with the suspect. According to Johnson, the woman showed law enforcement a message from the suspect sharing his GPS location. The GPS ping placed the suspect in the backyard of a home on the corner of Tendoy and Syringa drives.
Police surrounded the home and drew their weapons. Officers heard yelling and approached the backyard, according to Johnson, and found a man wearing a black shirt carrying a gun.
“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.”
The man, whom EastIdahoNews.com is not identifying at this time, lived at the home and was not the suspect. He was the same man police had spoken to earlier.
Police have not released the names of the suspect or the victim nor have they stated whether the suspect was armed. The Idaho Falls police officer who fired the deadly shot was wearing a body camera but police say they have no plans to release it anytime soon.
Watch the Idaho Falls police press conference here.