March 13, 2012 in City

Idaho man shot, killed after hitting trooper with car

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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A woman is escorted from the scene of an officer-involved shooting in Hayden on Monday. A 33-year-old North Idaho man was shot and killed by a police officer after reportedly using his car to strike an Idaho State Police trooper.
(Full-size photo)

A North Idaho man with an extensive criminal history was shot and killed by a Post Falls police officer early Monday after striking a state trooper with his car, police said.

Justin Earl Nicholas Todd, 33, died at Kootenai Medical Center after a nearly 20-minute police chase ended with shots fired in a residential area near West St. Estephe Court and West Bordeaux Avenue, just west of North Ramsey Road and south of West Honeysuckle Avenue in Hayden.

The Idaho State Police trooper had tried to stop Todd’s car after the car triggered an alert system on Interstate 90 that detects stolen vehicles and fugitives, authorities said.

Todd, of Coeur d’Alene, was named the North Idaho Violent Crimes Task Force’s “fugitive of the week” last week for a felony warrant charging him with eluding police and being a habitual offender.

Todd fled the 2:20 a.m. traffic stop, and two Post Falls police officers joined the chase, said Maj. Ben Wolfinger, of the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.

Todd hit the trooper with his car after the trooper exited his patrol car, Wolfinger said. At least one officer then shot Todd, who was taken to the hospital.

A multiagency team led by the sheriff’s department is investigating the shooting.

Wolfinger said investigators have a good idea which Post Falls officers fired shots, but they still were trying to determine how many shots were fired and where those bullets hit.

“We won’t be releasing that until we are sure about it. We want to be accurate,” Wolfinger said.

Wolfinger said Todd had an extensive criminal history that included 22 jail bookings and 25 arrest warrants for crimes that included trafficking methamphetamine.

Todd also had convictions in Spokane County in 2008 for attempting to elude police, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, drug possession and hit and run.

That same year, Todd was named a suspect by Rathdrum police for stealing a longtime family friend’s car.

At the time, Bernard Fox, 65, told police his family hadn’t seen Todd in some time “due to (Todd) being in trouble with the law,” according to court documents. Fox said Todd stopped by the home for a few minutes and stole the car when Fox’s son went to the bathroom.

Fox told The Spokesman-Review Monday that Todd attended Coeur d’Alene High School with his children. They skied together as teens, “and somewhere along the line, he just went the wrong direction,” Fox said.

Fox said Todd was incarcerated as a juvenile for burglary and “he just never recovered. He just chose the wrong path.”

“He came from a really good family,” Fox said. “I guess kids just make the wrong choices, and once they get down a path they can’t turn around.”

Todd’s felony history in Idaho began in 2000 when he was sentenced to one to three years for possession of a controlled substance. He was convicted of three drug crimes and an eluding a police officer felony charge in 2005 and sentenced to three to five years, according to the Idaho Department of Correction.

State prisons spokesman Jeff Ray said Todd was under state supervision “off and on” from 2000 until November 2010, when he was released to a community work center in Twin Falls. Todd twice absconded parole and was declared a fugitive, once in 2003 and again in 2008.

It’s the first police shooting involving an officer with the Post Falls Police Department since 2008, when Christopher Jay Kimsey, a former reserve deputy, was shot in the chest in the parking lot of Real Life Ministries near state Highway 41 and East Poleline Avenue in Post Falls after a police chase that began when Kimsey fired several rounds outside Hooters Restaurant and Owl Club Casino in Spokane Valley.

Kimsey’s cellphone stopped the police bullet, and he survived. He’s now in state prison.

Post Falls police Chief Scot Haug said he believes the last shooting before 2008 occurred in the 1970s.

“It is very infrequent,” Haug said.

Haug said the two officers involved in the shooting are on administrative leave as his office conducts an internal investigation, which is separate from the criminal probe.

Haug declined to comment on the details of the shooting, citing the outside investigation.

“We want to cooperate every way we can, because we want to be transparent,” Haug said. “We just have to be careful we’re not treading on the investigation.”

Staff writer Thomas Clouse contributed to this report.


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