Idaho man fatally shot in own backyard after officer mistakes him for suspect, police say

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A police officer in Idaho fatally shot a man who was in his own backyard on Monday after mistaking him for a suspect on the loose in the neighborhood and believed to be armed, authorities said.

Idaho Falls police did not immediately identify the victim or the officer involved in what Chief Bryce Johnson called a “devastatingly tragic” incident.

“There are no words to express how heavy our hearts are today,” Johnson said in a statement.

Idaho Falls Police Department Chief Bryce Johnson speaks to members of the media about an IFPD officer-involved shooting on Monday. (John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP)

The incident began just after midnight in Idaho Falls when a deputy from the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office pulled over a vehicle and saw a male passenger wearing a black shirt get out and flee into a residential neighborhood, the police statement said.

Idaho Falls police officers and Bonneville County sheriff’s deputies began searching the neighborhood for the suspect, authorities said.

The deputy who had stopped the vehicle spoke with the driver, who identified the suspect as 22-year-old Tanner J.N. Shoesmith, the sheriff’s office said in a news release. Deputies learned Shoesmith had multiple active warrants for his arrest, including for felony battery on an officer, resisting or obstructing arrest, and providing false information to law enforcement.

As the search continued, police said a resident told officers they spotted the suspect run through a backyard and believed that he had a gun.

Meanwhile, the driver who had stayed in the vehicle showed officers a message they received from the suspect that showed his GPS location, police said. The GPS appeared to show the suspect in a backyard of a nearby residence. Officers and deputies then surrounded the home.

“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,” the police statement said.

Shoesmith had a violent history with law enforcement, according to police.
(Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office)

Officers said they heard yelling when approaching the home and found a man wearing a black shirt and wielding a gun in the yard. They told the man to drop the gun, according to the statement.

“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.”

Johnson said officers and first responders attempted life-saving measures but they were unsuccessful.

Officers and deputies determined that the man who had been shot was not the suspect but actually the resident of that address.

After the shot was fired, Shoesmith was again spotted running through the area, police said. Officers tracked him to the yard of a nearby home and found him hiding in a shed.

Police did not say whether Shoesmith was armed. He was taken into custody without further incident.

The whole event, from the moment of the traffic stop to the shooting and arrest, lasted about 20 minutes, police said.

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“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.”

The officer involved in the shooting has been put on administrative leave and body camera video has been turned over to a task force as the shooting investigation continues.

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