Minutes after two Idaho sheriff’s deputies realized the man they just shot had died of his injuries, one of the officers turned to her colleague, smiled, and exclaimed, “Guess I’m gonna lose my gun again.”
“Me too,” her colleague responded. “But we didn’t have a choice.”
The comments were captured on body camera video, first obtained by NBC News through a public records request.
Clearwater County Sheriff’s Deputy Cpl. Brittany Brokop shot Michael Trappett, 48, on Jan. 31, after his mother called 911 saying her son, who had bipolar disorder and was intoxicated that morning, had picked up a large knife and had become aggressive.
Though Brokop and the other deputy on scene, Randall Carruth, were placed on administrative duties, Brokop didn’t actually lose her gun; last month, the Latah County prosecutor ruled after an investigation by the Lewiston Police Department that her actions were justified.
“We explored whether alternative, less-than-lethal options were available,” prosecuting attorney William Thompson Jr. said in his letter about the decision. “It is our conclusion that the use of deadly force was the most viable option. Although at least one of the deputies possessed a taser device, Michael Trappett was wearing heavy winter clothing and deputies' training and experience told them that the taser was unlikely to have any effect.”
Carruth and Brokop both returned to duty in May.
An officer from the nearby Orofino police department was first on the scene, followed by Carruth and Brokop.
One of the deputies can be heard telling a neighbor that Trappett’s “cheese done slid off his cracker,” making light of his mental illness, according to NBC News. The officers tell the neighbor they’re making sure he’s not terrorizing people in the neighborhood.
After the Orofino cop left to see if he could locate Trappett at a relative’s home nearby, Trappett approached his parents’ door where Carruth and Brokop were talking to them about his whereabouts, according to the video. The two deputies repeatedly asked Trappett to drop the knife, but he refused and instead walked away from them around the corner of the home. He then turned back to the officers and approached them in what they say was a “striking position.”
Trappett came within 10 feet of them when they fired their weapons 15 times, according to NBC. He died at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds. Investigators concluded he had committed aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer at the time of the shooting.
The Trappett family, however, thinks the officers acted too soon. In May, Trappett’s parents filed a federal lawsuit against the county sheriff’s office, according to Bill Trappett, Michael’s brother.
“It is disturbing to our family and disturbing to our community,” Bill Trappett told VICE News. “Her demeanor shows her character. If you see the video, you can see her smiling and grinning over the individual who died. And that is sickening and disturbing.”
Trappett had “a tender heart for the elderly and the disabled,” Bill Trappett said.
“He spent his whole life caring for people who struggled with mental issues. In the end, he was taking care of my parents and was their primary caretaker and did absolutely everything for them, from cooking, laundry, dishes, mowing the law,” he said.
Three weeks before he was killed, Bill says his brother lost his pet dog. He says losing his pet triggered a depressive episode that likely led to the episode he had the night of this death.
Stephen Stubbs, the Nevada-based attorney representing the family, declined to comment. The Clearwater Sheriff’s office did not respond to requests for comment about the lawsuit. But Sheriff Chris Goetz commented on the then-impending lawsuit in April.
“Much of the information within the claim is not accurate,” Sheriff Goetz said in response to the lawsuit. “Trappett was aggressive towards Deputies that night. He would not follow the commands of the Deputies to drop the knife that was in his hand. Trappett started walking away from Deputies and then turned around, raised the knife, and attempt to attack the Deputies.”
This is the second time in three years that Brokop was involved in the shooting of a suspect, NBC reported. The first occurred in March 2020, where the officer shot a 21-year-old man.
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