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Attorney representing Clearwater County deputies believes deadly force was justified

The family of 48-year-old Mike Trappett hired their own attorneys and want the deputies to face criminal charges.

OROFINO, Idaho — Two Clearwater County deputies who shot and killed a man with a knife remain on administrative leave. Their attorney, Joe Filicetti, is confident investigators will determine the shooting was justified and that body camera video will prove their lives were at risk.

The family of 48-year-old Mike Trappett hired their own attorneys and want the deputies to face criminal charges. 

Trappett lived and cared for his elderly parents. He struggled with bipolar disorder and was intoxicated on the early morning of Jan. 31 when he grabbed a kitchen knife and threatened to harm himself. His mom called 911 and deputies responded to their Orofino home. 

“You have a person armed with a knife who is making an attack on an officer. At that point, they ended up using deadly force,” Filicetti said. "He’s got a deadly weapon on him and he is drunk and on drugs and engages law enforcement. That’s just not a good recipe for anything or anyone.” 

Trappett was shot a total of 15 times. His family argues he was only a threat to himself and never charged at law enforcement. 

“When it comes to knife attacks, the range of death is 21-feet,” Filicetti said. “There’s [body camera video] to document how close he was, but they estimate 8 to 10-feet. In that situation, you are in the zone of danger and you are authorized to use deadly force.” 

Stephen Stubbs, an attorney for Trappett’s family, claims deputies altered the crime scene and pressured neighbors to say Trappett was aggressive. 

“Those are investigators that have come to a conclusion before investigating and are trying to protect their officers,” Stubbs said. 

Filicetti said there would be no reason for deputies to be speaking to neighbors because the investigation is being handled by the Lewiston Police Department. “Officers try to do everything they can not to use deadly force,” he said. 

Filicetti added the shooting has been hard on the deputies involved and their families. 

“This takes a toll on officers’ lives; they train for this and they never want to do this," Filicetti said.

Trappett’s family plans to file a notice of tort claim, a precursor to a lawsuit.

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