A father-of-four was shot dead by police after getting mistaken for the armed suspect they were after.
The tragic incident took place in Idaho Falls where 37-year-old Joseph ‘Joe’ Johnson was fatally shot by police while staying in his own backyard on early Monday morning.
According to the reports, the authorities were in pursuit of an armed man, later identified as 22-year-old Tanner Shoesmith, who fled on foot during a traffic stop.
After the sheriff’s deputy chasing the suspect called for backup, several law enforcement officers joined the manhunt on the suspect who was wearing khaki pants and a black shirt.
During their search, the police talked to a homeowner located on the Tendoy Drive and Syringa Drive corner and informed them they would be in the area for some time. They also talked to another resident who claimed to have seen the suspect running around with a gun.
Meanwhile, the police also spoke to the female passenger who was with Shoesmith before he ran away. According to East Idaho News, she showed them a message in which the suspect shared his GPS location with her, allowing the authorities to pinpoint his supposed location – the backyard of the home located on the Tendoy Drive and Syringa Drive corner.
“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 stated.
After surrounding the property, the police came across an armed man in a black shirt and allegedly ordered him to drop his weapon.
“We do not currently have the answers as to what exactly occurred during these moments. We do know that during this interaction, an Idaho Falls Police Officer discharged his service weapon firing one shot which struck the man,” Idaho Falls Police Chief Bryce Johnson claimed.
After the man was shot, it was discovered that he was, in fact, not the suspect but the homeowner of the lot the police had surrounded. He was reportedly the same man the police talked to about the suspect earlier that morning.
Following the tragic shooting, the homeowner, who was identified as Joseph Johnson by his family, succumbed to his wounds. Meanwhile, the police found and arrested the real suspect who was hiding in a shed in a nearby block.
“There are no words to express how heavy our hearts are today. This situation is devastatingly tragic for the family, for the officer, and those that love and care about them,” Chief Johnson said.
“We all feel the weight of what has occurred today. Our sincere sympathies are with the family and friends of those involved, and most especially the family of the deceased.”
After the death of an innocent civilian, Idaho Falls Police Department has launched an internal affairs investigation. The case, along with bodycam footage of officers involved in the incident, will also be reviewed by Eastern Idaho Critical Incident Task Force.
Following the death of the father-of-four, his relatives revealed Johnson had a happy family that came to Idaho Falls from California in search of a better life.
“He moved his family to Idaho for a better life. They just bought a house. They were so happy,” the 37-year-old’s father, Charles Johnson, explained.
Meanwhile, neighbors of the family dubbed Johnson a doting father and a good friend.
“He’s a really good friend. He was very loving. His children and wife adored him, and he adored them. He was a great dad,” one neighbor said.
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