LEWISTON, Idaho -- A man is in jail after attempting to ambush an Idaho police officer during a traffic stop, police said.
Jesse Harrell is charged with battery on an officer and obstructing an officer, among other charges, after the traffic stop.
Police said the officer stopped the car with no license plates believing it belonged to a person with outstanding warrants.
Lt. Jeff Klone with the Lewiston Police Department said when the officer was performing a driver’s license check on the driver, the officer heard a noise come from the trunk area.
Klone said the officer noticed the trunk appeared to have unlatched from the inside. He said the officer believed the suspect was hiding in the trunk. That’s when the officer asked the driver, who turned out to be Harrell’s mother, if he was in the trunk. According to Klone, the mother yelled “don’t shoot him, it’s a toy gun.”
Police said that’s when the officer went to secure the trunk and Harrell popped it open. Klone said the video shows Harrell is holding something that appears to be a firearm.
"He handled himself very well. I do feel that in this situation, we don't know if it's a toy gun or not," Klone said. "It turned out that it was a toy gun, but it looked extremely real.”
The video shows the officer tackle the suspect to the ground. Police said the officer was able to hold him there until backup arrived.
Klone said the officer probably would have been justified using deadly force in this situation, especially with recent ambushes on police officers. He said the officer handled the situation very well.
“To recognize the situation and handle it the way he did I think, one, goes to show the excellent character of our officer," Klone said. "And also that he used his training and his experience to protect himself and others.”
“Not every police officer is wanting to shoot somebody or use deadly force,” he added.
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