Idaho News

Idaho widow sues sheriff's office over her husband's fatal shooting

A North Idaho woman is suing a Bonner County Sheriff's Office deputy over the fatal shooting of her husband.

Robin Andrews asked the sheriff's office on Sept. 24, 2017, to conduct a welfare check on her husband, Craig A. Johnson, according to the lawsuit filed Monday. She said she was concerned because Johnson was not returning her phone calls.

A deputy went around midnight to check on Johnson, who was at the couple's cabin in Coolin, on the south shore of Priest Lake.

When the deputy exited the vehicle, Johnson came out of the cabin waiving a pistol "and yelled for the deputy to get off his property," according to the lawsuit. When the deputy told Johnson to drop his weapon, Johnson "turned around and walked into the house."

The deputy left the property and a $30,000 felony warrant for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer was issued for Johnson's arrest, according to an Idaho State Police news release at the time of the shooting.

Deputies returned to Johnson's cabin the morning of Sept. 26, 2017, to serve the warrant.

"During negotiations with Mr. Johnson via telephone and a police vehicle public address system, Craig Johnson exited his residence with a loaded handgun and confronted deputies by pointing a handgun at them, forcing them to respond with deadly force," ISP reported.

Johnson was taken by ground ambulance to meet an air ambulance; he died en route.

The deputies involved were not injured. Sgt. Shawn Deem, who has been with the Bonner County Sheriff's Office for 8 1/2 years, was identified as the deputy who shot Johnson.

Johnson "was shot at least once in the back contradicting the released information that the officers had no choice but to shoot," Andrews states in her lawsuit. Additionally, Andrews alleges her husband "was shot a distance away from his cabin, not in his cabin."

In addition to her wrongful death claim, Andrews also claims the sheriff's office is negligent for not properly training its deputies in use of force, and that it violated Idaho Public Records Act by not providing her documents pertaining to the shooting.

The Idaho State Police investigation into the shooting is still pending, ISP spokesman Tim Marsano said Monday.

Another wrongful death lawsuit over an officer-involved fatal shooting is pending in Boise federal court.

Adams County sheriff’s deputies Brian Wood and Cody Roland shot and killed Council rancher Jack Yantis on Nov. 1, 2015, while the rancher was attempting to put down his bull that had been severely injured in a car crash.

The deputies who killed Yantis committed “a deadly response to a fictional non-deadly threat,” Yantis family members said in the lawsuit, which was filed Oct. 13, 2017. The matter is pending before Judge David C. Nye. A trial date has not yet been set.

Cynthia Sewell is Idaho Statesman's government and investigative reporter. Contact her at (208) 377-6428, or @CynthiaSewell on Twitter.