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Body camera footage shows standoff between police, Rambo lasted seconds

UPDATED: Wed., March 3, 2021

Tyler Rambo makes his way back into the courtroom on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)
Tyler Rambo makes his way back into the courtroom on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)

Coeur d’Alene police Officer Kyle Cannon was standing near the police command trailer parked near Independence Point after a long day of patrolling the area crowded with people parking for Fourth of July activities.

It was the most crowded Cannon had ever seen the downtown area, he said. The fireworks show had ended and people were dispersing when Cannon said he heard a pop.

Cannon said he was unsure if it was a firework, but when he looked in the direction of the sound, he saw people running away. Cannon ran toward the scattering crowd, near a line of portable toilets set up in the parking lot.

A man, later identified as Tyler Rambo, came into view, made eye contact with Cannon and took off running, Cannon said when testifying in court this week.

“His demeanor completely changed when he saw me,” Cannon said.

Rambo is standing trial for attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault or battery against a police officer stemming from two shootings he’s accused of committing on the Fourth of July in 2019.

After hearing from witnesses involved in the initial shooting on Tuesday, the majority of the third day of trial on Wednesday was spent hearing police testimony.

Cannon began chasing Rambo and other officers followed, coming from various areas nearby. Ultimately, seven Coeur d’Alene police officers were involved in the foot chase and later shooting of Rambo, whose legs were amputated as a result of his injuries.

All seven officers had testified by the end of court Wednesday.

Cannon chased Rambo to the basketball courts nearby, where he said Rambo stopped at about the half court line. Officers filtered in, creating an “L” or half-moon shape, Cannon said.

Officer Casey Ziegler had been on patrol when he heard radio traffic saying there had been a shooting and joined the chase.

When Ziegler got to the basketball court, he said, “the first thing I saw was the suspect’s gun.”

Ziegler and the other officers were yelling commands at Rambo. One officer, Jacob Proctor, addressed Rambo by his first name after recognizing him from his time as a school resource officer.

Rambo had begun pacing and put his hands up in the air, according to multiple officers’ testimony and body camera footage.

Ziegler had pulled his gun out but quickly realized that there were bystanders in the backdrop of his shot, he said.

“At that point, I realized I couldn’t shoot without risking those people’s lives,” Ziegler said.

In body camera video, Ziegler can be heard yelling “there’s too many people” before pulling out a stun gun and shooting it at Rambo.

The prosecution and defense spent much of Wednesday arguing about the level of incapacitation the stun gun caused Rambo. The prosecution argued that because Rambo’s arms, which were up near his head, moved after the shock, he had control of his arms. The defense argued the movement was an involuntary reaction to the shock.

Rambo can be seen falling backward as his gun goes off, then officers open fire.

Body camera footage was shown from multiple officers, lasting from 30 seconds to about a minute depending on when the officers turned on their cameras. From the time Rambo stops at the basketball court to when his gun went off was a matter of seconds.

Officer Ryan Germain was the only officer to say he never saw or heard Rambo get hit with the stun gun, testifying he saw the flash of Rambo’s gun and then “split seconds” later returned fire.

The prosecution used Idaho State Police Cpl. Michael Grigg as an expert witness on stun guns. Grigg, who has never testified as an expert witness before, is the lead stun gun instructor at ISP and has nearly two decades of experience with stun guns.

Grigg testified the stun gun was sending strong pulses of electricity through Rambo for approximately two seconds before the connection was broken. During those two seconds, Rambo reached for his chest with his left hand then began falling backwards, his gun went off and police returned fire, as visible in a frame-by-frame breakdown of body camera footage.

“Clearly, in this case, the subject loses the ability to stand,” Grigg said.

Grigg testified he believes Rambo still had control of his arms because after watching a frame-by-frame analysis of body camera footage, Grigg said he saw Rambo’s left hand reach for the stun gun probe that was likely in his chest.

He also discussed a startle or sympathetic response to the stun gun, which “absolutely” could cause someone to fire a gun.

Grigg said he thinks there are indications that this was not the case for Rambo, because in the frame-by-frame footage he sees Rambo pushing the gun out in front of him: “That leads me to believe he still has control of his arms.”

On the body camera footage, it’s clear Rambo is falling backward at this moment. When asked by the defense if he had seen trainees fire guns when they’re not supposed to when being stunned as part of a training, Grigg said he had.

In total, 12 people testified Wednesday, with more testimony to come when trial resumes at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

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