“I think I’m going to lose my gun again,” an Idaho officer said minutes after shooting a man with a knife whose family had called authorities for help because they said he was suffering from a mental health crisis.
The shootings and comments were captured on police-worn cameras, and the videos were obtained by NBC News By requesting public records from the Lewiston Police Department. The agency reviewed the killing of Michael Trabbett, 48, at his parents’ home on January 31 in Orofino, a town of about 3,100 people in northern Idaho.
Last month, Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office. Brittany Prokop’s actions were determined to be justified by Lata County’s prosecuting attorney, and she’s back on regular patrol duty, Clearwater County Sheriff, Chris Goetz. He said in a statement. She was placed on administrative leave in February.
Prosecutor Randall Carruth, the second deputy who shot Trabbett, also acquitted and returned to patrol duty.
Brokop also appears to have been cleared of wrongdoing in the 2020 shooting while working for the mayor’s office itself, Placed in a rare class of law enforcement officers Who fire their service weapons more than once. The man shot in that case, Andrew Hull, 23, first spoke to NBC News, saying, “I pulled the trigger as fast as I could.”
“It went from 0 to 110 in a minute, and the next thing I knew was I was shot,” he said, adding that the bullet hit his right thigh, narrowly missing the femoral artery.
“I was 3 inches away from death,” said Hal, who was drunk at the time of the shooting.
Officials said Hal was a combative and took a pistol from her holster before the deputy fired.
Neither Prokop nor Clearwater County Sheriff Chris Goetz responded to requests for comment. The Idaho branch of the Fraternal Police Order also did not respond to a request for comment. The Idaho State Police, which investigated the shooting of Hull, referred questions about the shooting of Hull to the department’s public records unit. The agency has not yet submitted the documents.
Court records confirmed the criminal charges against Hal Dore Prokop in the shooting.
salads from The Prosecutor’s Office of the neighboring Lata District Who reviewed the fatal shooting in January, said Trappett posed a mortal threat when he came within 10 feet of Brokop and Carruth. Efforts to reach Karruth for comment were unsuccessful.
In a federal lawsuit filed last month, the Trabbett family accused lawmakers of using excessive force and other allegations.
“We believe Brittany Prokop should be held responsible for her actions,” said Bill Trabbett, Trapitt’s brother. “You’ve gone too far.”
He said the family also wanted the mayor’s office to strengthen the de-escalation policy.
In an April statementAl-Sharif described the family’s notification of the lawsuit as “false” and said Trabit was trying to “attack” the officers when they opened fire. Goetz added that Michael Trabbett has a “history of threatening and aggressive behavior” toward law enforcement, although it is not clear what incidents Goetz is referring to.
Bill Trabbett said he only learned of one recent incident at the hospital when his brother was drunk and yelling at facility staff about having to wear a gown. In this case, he said, he dealt with the elements and dressed him in a straight jacket. Bill Trapitt said Michael Trapett was not arrested, and his anger was directed at everyone — not just law enforcement.
‘Project but ugly’
It was not clear in the video if Michael Trapett intended to attack the officer. Justin Nix, a professor of criminology at the University of Nebraska Omaha, said Prokop seemed to approach Trappett very quickly.
“It happens enough — officers rush in and make poor tactical choices,” Nicks said. “They have to shoot to protect themselves.”
He said he wasn’t surprised that the shooting was justified because Trappett had a double-edged sword. He said that many in law enforcement espouse a theory known as the 21-foot rule: If a person has a knife and is 21 feet away, they can attack faster than you can pull your gun and shoot.
He said the theory is not supported by strong evidence. “But if you agree with that reasoning, why would he pursue the officer so closely?”
About 30 percent of the approximately 1,000 fatal police shootings occur each year in the United States He said that people who carry knives and weapons are not firearms. He said Trappett’s death appeared to belong to a category of “legitimate but egregious” shootings that departments should do more to prevent.
“I would like to see more efforts to train officers not to rush in, to slow down,” he said.
Hull described himself as a recovering alcoholic and was going through a rough patch when he went to a friend’s property to film a practice on Target on March 25, 2020.
He said Hal got into a screaming match with a guy on the road. The man’s wife is called 911, The sheriff’s office said in a statementWhen the officers arrived, they found Hal with what he described as a .45 caliber pistol in a holster.
The statement said Hull “confronted” the deputies, refused to follow instructions and pulled his gun from the holster.
The sheriff’s office said deputies got into an altercation with Hull, which resulted in Hull being shot.
Hull said he was drunk and “very noisy.” He said he thought the officers were telling him to drop his gun, so he pulled it out and threw it out of his reach, he said.
“Next thing I know,” he said, “they both rushed me.”
He said Prokop trained her rifle on him, and a second officer tried to shoot him with a stun gun. According to an arrest certificate, Hal was wearing a flak jacket and a stun gun have no effect.
According to the affidavit, a struggle ensued, and Hal attempted to take Prokop’s pistol. Hall said the officer fired three times before hitting him and that he tried to grab the gun so he wouldn’t get shot.
The affidavit stated that Hal tried to take the deputy’s gun. He did not say how many times it had been shot.
Hull said it was not clear if the officers knew he had thrown his gun away, and that the affidavit does not address the matter.
Hall is charged with aggravated assault on certain individuals and withholding a firearm from a law enforcement officer, according to the document. He said he spent nearly a year in prison.
Hull questioned Prokop’s actions the night he was shot, and said he believed Trabbett’s death was not necessary. “There are ways to handle things, and that wasn’t the way to handle them.”
Concerned family asking for help
Bill Trabbett, 52, said his brother had bipolar disorder and drank heavily when he fell into a deep depression. In January, Michael Trapett—a certified nursing assistant who took care of his parents and loved animals—lost a beloved pet, a rescue dog who had been hit by a car, his brother said.
On the night of the shooting, Michael Trapett was reeling from the loss, and his mother, tired of his drinking, gave up alcohol, Bill Trapett said. When he left their house with a knife, she called 911. According to the family’s lawsuit, Jackie Trabbett called because she was afraid her son might harm himself. Bill Trabbett said his brother tried several times in his life to commit suicide.
In the Bodycam video, the two deputies can be seen searching outside the family home for Michael Trabbett. His sister alerted the officers to his mental illness via a phone call. The second deputy can be seen and heard telling a neighbor that “the cheese that Michael Trapett made slipped out of the biscuit. We want to make sure he’s not here to terrorize people.”
Minutes later, Trappett appears in front of his parents’ house and walks toward the officers with one hand in his pocket. He stopped a few feet away from them.
“Show me your hands, Michael,” shouted the officers.
Trappett pulls a knife out of his pocket, and the officers tell him to drop it. He says “shoot me” with a series of insults.
“We don’t want to shoot you, man,” Carruth replies. “Just talk to us. What’s going on here?”
Trappett walks to the side of the house, and the officers follow. When he turned around and seemed to have begun to raise his right arm, with a knife in hand, the officers fired. Trappett collapses. According to the family’s lawsuit, 15 bullets were fired.
After noticing that she would lose her rifle again, Carruth told Prokop, “We had no choice.”
“No,” Prokop replies. “He didn’t give us a choice.”
Trabbett’s parents, who were at home when their son was wounded, initially agreed with that assessment, although they had questions about why he was shot so many times and why officers didn’t try to use a stun gun, Bill Trapett said.
In the months that followed, he added, they came to believe that the shooting “was clearly preventable. They had every option to de-escalate.”