CALDWELL, Idaho — 7Investigates has gained more clarity about what unfolded when Caldwell Police officers shot and killed a 92-year-old man last fall after requesting and receiving exclusive body camera footage from that night.
The deadly shooting happened on Alleghenny Way near Ward Lane and U.S. Highway 20/26 in Caldwell before 1 a.m. on Nov. 16, 2021.
As previously reported, the officers were cleared in the shooting death of Kernie Armstrong. Records show Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs reviewed the Critical Incident Task Force investigation, which was led by Idaho State Police.
Loebs found the two officers were justified because Armstrong pointed a gun at them twice. Loebs said Caldwell officers were acting in self defense and were "legitimately concerned Armstrong posed a threat to themselves and others".
7Investigates wanted to cross-check the police reports with video from body-worn cameras and present it to the public so they know what happened during this police shooting.
As you'll see in the video from Caldwell Police officers Jensen and Douthit, it's dark and everything moves quickly. 7Investigates slowed down the footage, lightened it and zoomed in since it's difficult to see when Armstrong pulls the gun.
A warning: This video contains the sound of gunshots. You do not see Armstrong get shot, but it could be disturbing to some viewers.
Police reports show officers responded around 1 a.m., after a neighbor reported a suspicious person driving a truck back and forth down their street.
When officers got there, they went up to the person in the truck, who was Armstrong. He lived across the street from where he parked.
In the span of 20 seconds, two Caldwell Police officers walked up to the truck, saw a threat, fired their guns and killed the man inside. The two responding officers said Armstrong had pointed his revolver at them.
In the video you can see and hear officers curse, sprint away, take cover and then fire roughly 20 shots. Officers who were on scene later learned Armstrong was shot in the head and chest.
"Canyon 1-17. We got one male. He looks like he's been shot in the head, he's non-responsive right now," one of the two officers is heard communicating over the radio system.
From the different angles of the body-worn cameras, it is apparent Armstrong raises an object when officers first contact him. Then he pointed the object again after they backed away.
Police reports show officers and investigators found Armstrong holding a silver magnum revolver.
"He's got a large revolver, right hand looks like possibly on the trigger," one officer who came on scene after the shooting is heard saying to another.
Officers say they found two guns in Armstrong's car.
Armstrong even told an officer he came in contact with earlier that day outside a convenience store in Caldwell that he always carries guns and was a gun collector.
"He's got more than one gun in that truck. He said he had one in his back pocket, one in the truck," Officer Mortensen said to the other officers on scene shortly after the shooting.
During that same interaction with Officer Mortensen, she wrote that Armstrong expressed fear for his life.
"He said that he was scared earlier," Mortensen said to other officers.
But Mortensen wrote in a police report she didn't think he was a threat to himself or anyone else.
Investigatory reports show that, after the incident, neighbors told investigators 92-year-old Armstrong suffered from dementia and paranoia. One neighbor told officers he and his wife helped take care of him.
His son, Glenn Armstrong, also confirmed that his dad suffered from memory loss and paranoia.
"I've noticed over the last six months or so he was having trouble comprehending things," a neighbor is heard telling an officer. "I just chalked it up to he's just getting older. Physically, he's in pretty dang good shape, but he was starting to lose it up here."
Body camera footage and police reports show some houses also got caught in the crossfire. Stray bullets hit a couple of neighboring homes, but no one inside those houses was hurt.