Prosecutor: Boise Police Officers Justified in August 3, 2023, Critical Incident

May 21, 2024

The Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Fredback determined that the actions of the Boise Police officers who shot Christian Johnson on August 3, 2023, were justifiable under the law.

The prosecutor reviewed the officers’ on-body video as well as the complete investigation conducted by the Ada County Critical Incident Task Force (CITF) led by the Meridian Police Department.

A brief description of the event from the Prosecuting Attorney is included below and the entire letter is available here.

It is clear from the reports and videos that the officers' intent upon arrival was to address Christian's concerns and get him help. He had called 911 three times requesting law enforcement assistance. Before responding to Christian's address, Cpl. Johnson called him and asked how the police could help him, offered to call someone for him and offered treatment or medical assistance. Cpl. Johnson and Officer Miller were aware that Christian was using methamphetamine, likely causing his erratic and paranoid behavior. From the moment Christian appeared to the officers, they knew he was armed and agitated. The officers ordered Christian to drop the weapons twelve separate times to avoid any violence. Christian refused to comply.

Christian was armed and belligerent, in the middle of the parking lot of a large apartment complex, at approximately 11:00 a.m. with members of the public going about their daily activities. Christian posed a threat to himself and/or the public and refused to obey the officers' lawful commands. Therefore, Officers Johnson and Miller had a legal duty to intervene. The officers gave Christian ample opportunity to comply, offered him help, and made every reasonable effort to resolve the situation peacefully. Rather than obey, Christian turned the knife toward himself and then charged the officers. As Christian approached the officers, knife raised in one hand with a hammer and metal spike in the other, the officers reasonably perceived that they were in danger and had probable cause to believe that Christian posed a threat of death or serious physical injury. Therefore, the use of deadly force was justified.

“The loss of Mr. Johnson’s life is extremely unfortunate, and we hope others in crisis can get the help and resources they need to stabilize their lives and behaviors prior to getting to the point where a deadly threat is made to others, including police officers.  I am grateful no bystanders or officers were physically injured in this encounter, but I recognize not all injuries are physical, and there is always a significant impact on officers and others involved, when deadly force is used, regardless of the circumstances.  My thoughts are with everyone impacted by this event, including Mr. Johnson’s loved ones, the officers and their families, and anyone else living with the aftermath of such a traumatic incident,” said Boise Police Chief Ron Winegar.

The public CITF report is available here under the date August 3, 2023.

A video report, with on-body camera video, is available hereThe full version of the on body video used to create the linked video report is available upon request free of charge through BPD’s public records request process.

As with all critical incidents, the Boise Police Department conducts an administrative investigation.  The City of Boise Office of Police Accountability (OPA) also performs an independent review and issues a public report.

BPD has reviewed that OPA report and its recommendations. BPD’s internal review made very similar recommendations and updates to BPD’s training and procedure have been completed.  The OPA report is expected to be released publicly today.

Contact: Boise Police Media Relations

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