Family mourns man Idaho police killed in his own back yard by mistake

Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 10:23 AM MST
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CITRUS HEIGHTS, Calif. (KMAX/KOVR) - They were lighting up the sky with lanterns Saturday night for the man that brightened up their life.

Joe Johnson was shot and killed by police in his Idaho Falls, Idaho, back yard by mistake earlier this month while police was searching the neighborhood for a suspect who fled a traffic stop.

Idaho Falls Police admitted their officer shot and killed the wrong man.

“This situation is devastating and tragic for all involved,” Idaho Falls Police Chief Bryce Johnson said.

“He was a very respectful, hardworking family man,” said Patricia Sanford, Joe Johnson’s aunt.

“All he was doing was protecting his family and he got shot. It’s just not right,” said Chuck Johnson, his father, who was among those honoring his son’s memory in California. “I’m heartbroken and I’m angry.”

Joe Johnson’s father clutched onto his most prized possession - a handwritten Father’s Day gift from his son, from 1989.

“My house catches on fire - this is what’s going with me,” Chuck Johnson said.

Pictures of Joe Johnson as he grew up in Sacramento scattered across a table, his smile one person described as contagious.

“You could tell by the look on his face - he was in love,” Sanford said.

The hurt of this loss is being felt in family, wondering how a tragedy like this can happen.

The officer-involved shooting is under investigation.

Copyright 2021 KMAX/KOVR via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved. Gray Media Group, Inc., contributed to this report.