COEUR d'ALENE - A September 2012 Coeur d'Alene police officer-involved fatal shooting was justified, according to documents released Friday by Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh.
The shooting was investigated by the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office.
McHugh wrote his opinion on the shooting, in a letter to sheriff's Detective Brad Maskell, stating he had reviewed the investigative materials detailing the shooting death of Christian Nicholas Buquet, 19, who also used the name Christian Mallon.
Sheriff's Lt. Stu Miller told The Press that McHugh completed his initial review of the materials and justified the incident in March of 2013. Because a significant amount of gunfire occurred during the incident, the Coeur d'Alene Police Department then requested further forensic analysis of video recorded at the time. The results of that analysis were sent to McHugh approximately one month ago. He reviewed them and once again came to the conclusion that the shooting was justified.
"Mr. Buquet posed an immediate and continuing danger to the lives of anyone who he may have come into contact with," McHugh wrote. "There was absolutely no indication at that time that he intended to stop his continuing violent conduct or surrender to officers when they fired to stop him."
The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office also released a 75-page summary of its investigation, as well as several video clips taken from law enforcement body- and vehicle-mounted cameras.
At approximately 11 a.m., Sept. 29, 2012, Coeur d'Alene Police Department officers were paged to the area of 12th Street and Lakeside Avenue for a shots fired call. Dispatch informed the responding officers that Buquet had shot a man, 29-year-old Coeur d'Alene resident Frank James, in the chest.
Buquet fled the scene of the shooting in a 2004 Ford Focus and, according to an executive summary of Detective Brad Maskell's investigation, fired a semi-automatic pistol at three bystanders.
Multiple officers pursued Buquet as he traveled east on Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive. In video recorded by the officers' vehicle-mounted cameras, numerous pedestrians and bicyclists can be seen on the Centennial Trail while the chase continues. Several motorists are forced to evade Buquet's vehicle, which is seen driving erratically on both sides of the road.
According to Maskell's summary, when Buquet turned the corner at Sunnyside Road, he turned and fired his gun at officers.
The chase culminated with Buquet failing to negotiate a right hand curve near Osprey Point. Maskell's report states that while Buquet's car slid, several officers observed Buquet raising his hand "in a fashion that is indicative of his taking aim back at them with a handgun."
Buquet's vehicle then hit a barrier cable along the south side of the Centennial trail and stopped. At that point, four officers positioned their vehicles west of the Ford Focus and fired approximately 77 rounds into the car.
Buquet died at the scene.
Frank James was transported to Kootenai Medical Center and survived the gunshot wound. No bystanders were injured during the chase.
"The loss of life is always tragic, and I extend my condolences to the friends and family of Mr. Buquet," McHugh wrote. "At the same time there is a price to be paid by those who were compelled by circumstances beyond their control, their oath and a sense of duty to use deadly force. I hope my findings help in some way to bring closure to this incident."
McHugh closed his letter to the sheriff's office by commending its investigative team, as well as the Coeur d'Alene Police officers involved in the incident for their "handling of a very unusual and dangerous situation in a manner that resulted in no injuries to innocent bystanders."