Joseph Johnson (2021)

From LEO Ratings
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On February 8, 2021, a Bonneville County Idaho Sheriff's Office deputy stopped a vehicle for a traffic infraction. The passenger fled from the car and evaded the deputy, who called for backup. Idaho Falls Idaho Police Department officers Elias Cerdas, Hector Kistemann, Spencer Wood, and Stetson Belnap arrived to help search the neighborhood.[1] Wood made contact with Johnson, who lived in the area, and notified him that police were searching for a suspect.[2]

The driver of the car gave officers a GPS location for the suspect. Police surrounded the house and located a man in the back yard who was wearing the same color shirt as the suspect and was armed with a handgun. Kistemann ordered the man to drop the weapon. When the man turned towards officers, Cerdas fired. Police learned that the man was Johnson - the man they had spoken with earlier and a resident of the house.[1]

Officers and EMTs rendered aid, but Johnson died.[1]

Neither officer had identified themselves as members of law enforcement before the shooting.[1]

The original suspect was located about a block away.[3]

The Eastern Idaho Critical Incident Task Force opened an investigation.[1]

Cerdas was placed on administrative leave.[1]

In July 2021, Johnson's widow filed a claim, which is often the first step before a lawsuit is filed.[1]

In August 2021, a grand jury indicted Cerdas on a charge of involuntary manslaughter.[1] Cerdas faces up to 10 years in prison.[2]

On the second day of Cerdas' criminal trial, a plea deal was reached where the charges would be dropped in exchange for 100 hours of additional training for Cerdas.[1]

Johnson's widow filed a lawsuit against the city, the department, the chief, the county, the sheriff's office, and the sheriff.[1]


The incident was captured on officers' body-worn cameras.[2]

Officers Involved

Official Reports

Additional Sources