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CdA police chief offers sympathy in fatal shooting

Tue., Aug. 27, 2013, 7:18 p.m.

Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Wayne Longo issued a statement today expressing sympathy to the family of the man shot and killed Sunday by one of his officers, and calling for a thorough investigation of the confrontation.

“We extend our sympathy to Eric Johnston’s family, and commit to a professional investigation of the officer involved shooting,” Longo said. “The use of deadly force is a decision officers must face during extremely difficult and dangerous situations. I have confidence in our officers and the investigative process. I have requested the Idaho State Police conduct a comprehensive investigation into this shooting.”

Eric Byron Johnston, 35, a Dalton Gardens resident, died after he was shot multiple times in a friend’s apartment near downtown Coeur d’Alene. An autopsy was conducted Monday by the Kootenai County Coroner’s Office, but investigators declined to reveal how many times Johnston was shot.

Toxicology results from the autopsy are not expected to be available for several weeks.

The state police, which is leading the investigation, also has not named the officer who Johnston. The officer has been placed on administrative leave, according to department policy.

Johnston’s family is planning a funeral for Saturday. English Funeral Chapels & Crematory of Coeur d’Alene is handling funeral arrangements.

Police approached Johnston shortly before 8 a.m. Sunday in the apartment of his friend, Wendy Woods, at 1422 E. Young Ave., north of Sanders Beach. He has driven his pickup truck into a utility pole, knocking it over, a half hour earlier about a block away.

Authorities have not said what prompted the officer to pull his gun and fire at Johnston, but Woods said Johnston was holding a knife to himself and saying he did not want to go back to jail. Johnston had served time in jail for driving under the influence.

Witnesses said the officer ordered Johnston to drop the knife before firing.

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