An Idaho State Trooper was justified in shooting a Montana motorist who grabbed a gun during a police check along Interstate 90 at Lookout Pass in June, Shoshone County Prosecuting Attorney Keisha Oxendine said today.
Alexander L. Mandarino, 26, of Whitefish, Mont., died from a single gunshot wound to the chest. Trooper Todd McDevitt fired the shot as Mandarino and Shoshone County Deputy Adam Durflinger wrestled over possession of Mandarino’s handgun, an investigation by the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office found.
Mandarino “posed an immediate and continuing danger to the officers on scene,” Oxendine said in a statement released today. McDevitt and Durflinger “were presented with a viable threat of deadly force by Mandarino” when he presented the gunand refused to release it, she said.
McDevitt and Durflinger approached Mandarino’s car, parked in an eastbound turnout about 2 miles west of the Idaho-Montana border, on June 12 after receiving a report from an Idaho Transportation Department worker about the man’s welfare, the investigation said.
The officers questioned Mandarino for about 45 minutes, including asking him why the Montana license plates on the Toyota Scion he was in were not those issued for the car, which belonged to the man’s roommate.
After providing some inconsistent answers, Mandarino went to the passenger side of the vehicle, got in the car and retrieved a handgun, investigators said. He and Durflinger struggled for control of the weapon and McDevitt shot Mandarino.
A toxicology report showed Mandarino had THC, the main mind-altering ingredient in marijuana, in his system at the time of the confrontation.
Mandarino was a 2005 graduate of Whitefish High School. He studied filmmaking at the Los Angeles Film School. His parents, Monte Mandarino and Laura Blankenship, live in Whitefish.