Officer-involved shooting probe nears completion

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SANDPOINT — The investigation into the deadly officer-involved shooting outside Bonner General Health is nearing completion, according to sheriff’s Det. Sgt. Gary Johnston.

Johnston expects the investigation to be finalized by the end of the coming week and forwarded to Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall for review.

“I know there’s a lot of people waiting for it. We put forth every effort to get it done as quickly as possible,” Johnston said.

The investigation into the July 2 shooting death of Jeanetta Marie Riley includes video footage of the incident and measurements determined by a total station, an electronic transit with a distance meter.

The investigation will remain under wraps until it’s done being reviewed by the prosecutor’s office to determine if criminal charges are warranted.

Riley, 35, was shot to death after allegedly advancing on Sandpoint Police officers with a knife outside the hospital’s emergency department. Riley’s husband, Shane, took his wife to the hospital because she exhibiting “erratic” and “aggressive” behavior, sheriff’s officials have said.

Jeanetta Riley allegedly threatened to attack anyone who tried to approach and exited the vehicle she was in while armed with a knife. Officers ordered her to stop and drop the knife, but she refused the commands, according to the sheriff’s office.

Two of the three officers at the scene discharged their firearms and a total of five gunshots were fired, sheriff’s officials said.

The officers involved in the fatal clash were identified as Garrett Johnson, Michael Valenzuela and Skylar Ziegler, although sheriff’s officials have not disclosed each officer’s role in the incident or revealed who fired on Riley.

Valenzuela has been with the Sandpoint Police Department for five years, while Ziegler has been on the force for three and a half years. Johnson has been on the force for one and a half years and was undergoing field training at the time of the incident.

The trio was placed on administrative leave following the shooting, a standard practice in officer-involved shootings. They have since returned to duty, Sandpoint Police Chief Corey Coon said.

Coon said the officers were cleared to return to work after their actions were reviewed against the department’s policies and procedures.

“Part of our internal (investigation) is still pending,” Coon said, explaining that his department is still awaiting the results of the sheriff’s investigation in order to conclude its probe.

Intense debate continues to orbit the incident, with some contending the officers’ actions were justified and others asserting they were not and that non-lethal force should have been used to subdue Riley.

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