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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Tyler Rambo found not guilty of attempted murder or assault, but guilty of three police-related counts

In the hallway outside a Kootenai County courtroom Thursday night, Nicole Ellis grabbed her kids’ hands and led them in a prayer. Minutes later, Ellis sat in the courtroom with tears in her eyes as the jury’s verdict in the case of her son, Tyler Rambo, was read aloud.

She breathed a sigh of relief as the first two charges, attempted murder and aggravated assault, were returned with not guilty verdicts. But then came aggravated assault of a peace officer: guilty on all three counts. The jury also added an assault with a deadly weapon enhancement to the three counts.

Ellis let out a soft sob while Rambo stared ahead in his wheelchair, which he uses after having his legs amputated at the hip from being shot by police that fateful day.

“I don’t know what happens now,” Ellis said after leaving the courtroom.

After hours of deliberation that spanned over two days, a jury handed down a split verdict Thursday in Rambo’s case for two shootings on the Fourth of July 2019 in downtown Coeur d’Alene.

Rambo was accused of second-degree attempted murder for shooting at Jawaun Anderson, a man he had lost a fight to about a week prior. Rambo told the court he was scared that Anderson and his friends would brutally attack him again.

When Anderson got on top of Rambo and was hitting him on the fourth, Rambo told the court he pulled out his .357 revolver and shot it into the air to make the assault stop.

Rambo was also accused of aggravated assault against Anderson’s girlfriend at the time, Jazmin Smith, who was involved in the fight. Smith claimed Rambo pointed the gun in her face, while he claimed he was acting in self-defense.

After the initial shooting, Rambo ran from the scene in an attempt to evade another assault, he said. The prosecutor alleged he ran to get away from police, who began chasing him.

Rambo stopped at the basketball courts in City Park, where there was a confrontation with police officers. Rambo put his hands in the air, in what he said was an attempt to show officers he was not a threat. Officers told the court they were in fear for their lives because Rambo refused to follow their commands of dropping the gun and getting on the ground.

However, Rambo said he was scared if he dropped the revolver in single action it would misfire.

That’s when Coeur d’Alene Police officer Casey Zeigler used a stun gun on Rambo. Seconds later, Rambo’s gun went off and officers returned fire, striking him more than 14 times.

Ultimately, Rambo’s legs were amputated at the hip, leaving him wheelchair bound.

For Ellis, the guilty verdict is a sign of the culture in North Idaho.

“The cops won, everyone here loves their cops,” Ellis said. “I saw the same video they did, but I guess I didn’t see it the same way.”

Ellis said she was frustrated they found him guilty after both an expert witness for the prosecution and defense said they couldn’t be completely sure Rambo had control of his arms when hit with a stun gun. A jury is supposed to be certain beyond a reasonable doubt, and Ellis said she doesn’t understand how they could be that certain with the evidence presented.

“Idaho is a cop state,” Ellis said. “I think everyone here loves their cops and they can do no wrong.”

While the verdict may be in, Ellis said her son plans to exhaust all his legal options. “It just shows in the end, my fight is not over,” Ellis said.

Rambo’s sentencing is scheduled for May 28 at 9 a.m. before Judge Cynthia Meyer.