Prosecutor calls fatal Coeur d'Alene officer-involved shooting justified



Posted on January 3, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 3 at 7:01 PM

BONNER COUNTY, Idaho -- The Bonner County Prosecuting Attorney said Friday that a deadly officer-involved shooting that happened in Coeur d'Alene back in August was justified.

The Prosecuting Attorney believes Eric Johnston intended to commit suicide by cop after conducting interviews and watching footage from the officer’s body camera.

WATCH: Officer identified in fatal Coeur d'Alene shooting

Authorities said Eric Johnston, 38, was threatening to hurt himself after officers approached him on the morning of August 25. Officer Spencer Mortensen responded to an apartment complex on Young Avenue after Johnston hit a power pole.

Officials said Mortensen arrived on scene and spoke with a person that was a friend of Johnston named Wendy Allenbaugh. Mortensen went with Allenbaugh to her apartment and noticed that that the front screen door had been broken and there was glass on the porch. The officer also noticed Allenbaugh was injured.

READ: Coeur d’Alene man shot by police died from wounds

The Bonner County Prosecuting Attorney said that during Mortensen’s interview with Idaho State Police, he said he suspected there could have been a domestic violence incident at Allenbaugh’s place.

Allenbaugh told Mortensen that Johnston was inside with a knife and that he was threatening to harm himself. In an interview with police, Allenbaugh had said that Johnston was worried about going back to jail.

Authorities said Mortensen went into the apartment and saw Johnston about 10 feet away. He saw two knives in Johnston’s hands and directed him to drop the weapons. Before Mortensen actually saw Johnston, he had announced himself several times and asked him to come out.

Officials said Mortensen attempted to deescalate the situation by asking Johnston to provide insurance for the crash and told him it was just a minor accident.

Authorities said Johnston refused all of Mortensen’s commands and did not drop the knives and started moving closer to him. Mortensen at one point told Johnston that if he continued to move closer to him he would shoot.

Officials said Johnston got even closer to Mortensen and that is when he fired off five shots.

The Bonner County Prosecuting Attorney has determined that criminal charges should not be filed against Mortensen for the death of Johnston.