COEUR d’ALENE, IDAHO— A police shooting last August has grabbed national attention after disturbing video of the incident was released Wednesday. Wendy Allenbaugh thought she was doing the right thing by allowing the police into her home to help her friend Eric Johnston. He had just fled the scene of an accident and was in her kitchen with a knife.
When Officer Spencer Mortensen arrived, Allenbaugh let him know immediately that he wasn’t violent, and she was only worried about him hurting himself. Mortensen was aware there was no gun, yet went into the apartment with his own gun drawn, not even stopping to consider a taser.
In the video, Mortensen enters the apartment and calls for Johnston to come out. After locating him, he yells for him to drop the knife or he will be shot. Mortensen makes no violent gestures, but doesn’t drop the knife. He appears to be in a state of shock as he moves slowly toward the officer. With little hesitation, Mortensen fires his weapon five times into Johnston, who died immediately.
Allenbaugh can be heard saying, “You didn’t shoot him, did you?” The officer screams for her to stay back, and later arrested her for no apparent reason.
Johnston’s mother, Catherine Pratt, is now suing the police department, saying her son was “a very soft-hearted and compassionate person.”
Officer Mortensen was not prosecuted, and the incident was deemed ‘suicide by cop’. Eric Johnston’s death can be compared to Dallas police shooting Bobby Gerald Bennet in his driveway last year. He too was holding a knife before officers proceeded to shoot him without warning. Both of these cases were caught on tape and show how police will often use excessive force in situations that call for compassion. The video from Johnston’s incident can be viewed below, and is extremely graphic. What you see and hear may be deeply disturbing.