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Widow Sues County and Sheriff’s Office for Excessive Force

Posted by Steve Karimi | Nov 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

A Spokane widow has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Bonner County and the Bonner County Sheriff's Department for fatally shooting her husband in September 2017. Bonner County is in northern Idaho and where the couple owned a cabin.

Welfare Check

On September 24, 2017, Robin Johnson called the Bonner County Sheriff's Department and requested they perform a welfare check on her husband at their cabin. Ms. Johnson said she had not heard from her husband, Craig, in over 24 hours and she was concerned because they had had a verbal altercation before he had gone silent.

A sheriff's deputy arrived at the cabin around midnight, and Craig Johnson came out of the cabin holding a firearm. He told the deputy to leave his property and after a minute, went back inside the cabin. The deputy then tried to get a warrant to arrest Craig for felon in possession of a firearm, but dispatch told the deputy Craig had no prior criminal history. The deputy then got a warrant for felony assault on an officer, even though Craig had not specifically threatened the deputy or pointed his gun at the officer.

The Bonner County Sheriff's Department then assembled an emergency response team to deal with the situation. This tactical response team included two snipers and an armored BearCat vehicle.

Craig Johnson called the Bonner County Sheriff's Department the next day to try and resolve any misunderstandings, but his calls weren't answered. Neither Robin nor Craig was aware of the felony assault charge against him or that a tactical team had been assembled to arrest him.

On September 26, the tactical team arrived at Johnson's cabin with snipers stationed near the treeline. According to the deputies, Craig came out of the cabin “aggressively,” pointing his firearm at the deputies, which prompted one of the snipers to fire two shots at him. Craig then died en route to the hospital.

Lawsuit Alleges Constitutional Violations

According to Ms. Johnson's lawsuit, "The use of the [tactical team], which included six armed officers in an armored tactical vehicle and two snipers hidden off the front door of the Johnson residence, is an overwhelming and excessive show of force for purposes of apprehending a suspect who posed no immediate threat to officers or the general public."

The lawsuit alleges constitutional violations through excessive force, use of deadly force, and inadequate training. The lawsuit also notes that the crisis negotiator on the tactical team was not used to communicate with Craig.

The lawsuit further states, "Craig Johnson was wrongfully killed, and his wife, Plaintiff Robin Johnson, suffered the loss of the care, comfort, society, and support of her husband, as well as emotional and mental trauma resulting from the death of her husband."

Defense Attorney Steve Karimi

If you believe you were subjected to excessive police force when you were arrested, you should contact the Law Offices of Steve Karimi immediately at 206-621-8777. Mr. Karimi is a former prosecutor now-turned defense attorney who understands the workings of the criminal justice system. He will fight for your rights and make sure you are thoroughly represented. You can also fill out an online contact form to get started on a free consultation of your case. 

About the Author

Steve Karimi

Steve Karimi attended Pepperdine University School of Law. After graduation he worked as a prosecutor in Seattle where he gained valuable insight to the criminal justice system. Attorney Karimi uses his experiences as a prosecutor everyday only now he fights for the justice of those accused.


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Named a "rising star" in criminal defense by Washington Law and Politics magazine, Mr. Karimi is a former prosecutor for King County who uses his insight into prosecution strategies to protect his clients' rights in criminal court.