In a matter of seconds, what started as a routine traffic stop turned into a shootout, resulting in one dead suspect and one wounded Idaho police officer. See the intense body camera footage showing the gunfight and its immediate aftermath above.
Approaching The Suspect
The Spokesman-Review says Officers Kelly Mongon and Charles Hatley of the Coeur d’Alene Police Department approached a vehicle at around 7 p.m. on Feb. 27. KXLY reported that the vehicle was parked on the wrong side of the street. Inside the vehicle were the vehicle’s owner, 34-year-old Curtis Ware; Eli Darby; and Trenten Szafransky.
Police ran the plates on the car and discovered that the vehicle was flagged for a felony drug warrant.
Mongon and Hatley called for backup. Officer Taylor Beach arrived shortly thereafter. The body camera video shows the three officers keep their flashlights on the car while they wait for additional backup.
Around one minute and 11 seconds into the video—which combines Hatley and Beach’s body cameras—Mongon asks Ware to step out of the vehicle. While Ware gets out, Mongon can be heard ordering him to turn around and put his hands behind his back.
Idaho Police Shooting
It’s not explicitly visible on camera, but police said that’s when Ware pulled a gun from his waistband and suddenly started firing, prompting a gunfight.
Mongon, Hatley and Beach fire back at Ware. When the shooting stops, Beach asks Hatley where he’s hit.
“Right in the stomach,” Hatley replies. “I don’t know if he hit my belt or not.”
As it turns out, Hatley—who graduated from the police academy less than three months before the shooting— had been hit at point-blank range in the abdomen after a round pierced his duty belt.
Beach placed Hatley into her patrol vehicle and took him to Kootenai Health, less than a mile from the shooting. He was treated for his injuries and released shortly thereafter. He returned to light duty in May and full duty in June.
Ware, meanwhile, was found laying face down dead in a nearby resident’s yard with three gunshot wounds. Darby and Szafransky were arrested on drug possession charges.
Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said Ware had an extensive criminal record, including arrests for drug possession; probation violations; felon in possession of a firearm; eluding police; and forgery. He served time in an Idaho prison from 2004 to 2009. His felony arrest warrant was for a failure to appear for pretrial sentencing relating to felony drug possession and intent to deliver in Kootenai County, KXLY reported.
After an investigation, Officers Hatley, Beach and Mongon were cleared of any wrongdoing by Louis Marshall, the Bonner County Prosecuting Attorney.
“In this case, the evidence is very clear that Mr. Ware had a felony warrant, was involved in the illegal sales of narcotics, was armed, had a high level of methamphetamine in his system at the time, and decided for whatever reason, he was going to resist and attempt to murder police officers engaged in their lawful duties,” Marshall wrote in a letter to the Idaho State Police.
By The Book
Darby told KXLY that he and Szafransky were buying drugs from Ware. He said they were unaware Ware had a gun on his person.
“He pretty much told us that if he got caught he was going to prison for the rest of his life and that we should flee the scene,” said Darby. “And I was telling the driver … no, don’t do it.”
Darby said Ware was entirely at fault for the shooting.
“(The cops were) just doing their jobs,” he said. “That’s all they were doing is doing their jobs. He had a warrant, they were trying to detain him and he’s the one who decided to take it to that level.”
White praised his officers’ actions that night.
“I’m extremely proud of the way our officers responded during this incident,” he said. “They were presented with an unprovoked and sudden attack and they literally responded with the way officers are trained.”