Idaho man in his own backyard fatally shot by officer who mistook him for armed suspect, police say
An Idaho police officer fatally shot a man in his own backyard Monday while searching a neighborhood for a suspect believed to be armed, officials said.
The incident started when a Bonneville County sheriff’s deputy pulled over a vehicle in Idaho Falls for a broken tail light shortly after midnight Monday, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office. While the driver remained in the car, the passenger took off running, authorities said.
Idaho Falls police officers and Bonneville County sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene and began searching for the suspect, who was wearing a black shirt and khaki pants and headed in the direction of a residential neighborhood, according to a statement from Idaho Falls police.
A resident told an officer they had seen the suspect run through their yard, and the resident believed the suspect was armed with a gun. All officers were given this information, police said.
The driver who had remained in the car identified the suspect as 22-year-old Tanner J. N. Shoesmith, and police learned the he had multiple warrants for his arrest, including two failure to appear warrants with original charges of resisting/obstructing arrest. The others were related to charges of felony battery on an officer and providing false information to law enforcement, authorities said.
At some point the driver received a text message from Shoesmith that shared his GPS location, which was seen by police. The GPS showed he was in a backyard in the neighborhood where the officers were searching, according to police.
“Officers and deputies surrounded the residence and backyard in order to prevent the suspect from fleeing,” the statement said. “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 said they heard yelling and saw a man in a black shirt. He was armed with a gun, and officers told the man to drop the weapon, according to the statement.
“We do not currently have the answers as to what exactly occurred during these moments,” Idaho Falls police Chief Bryce 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.”
“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,” Johnson said.
The statement continued: “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.”
“There are no words to express how heavy our hearts are today,” Johnson said. “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.”
Shoesmith was eventually found hiding in a shed in a different backyard and arrested, according to police. He was charged on the outstanding warrants as well as a new misdemeanor charge for resisting arrest.
Shoesmith is white, as was the victim, who has not been identified, police told NBC News. The officer who shot the victim is Latino.
Body camera footage of the incident has not been released.
The officer has been placed on administrative leave, while an independent investigation by the Eastern Idaho Critical Incident Task Force is conducted. The findings will be turned over to the Bonneville County prosecutor when the investigation is completed.
The Idaho Falls Police Department will conduct its own investigation to determine if proper protocols were followed.