Investigation concludes after Longview officer shoots, kills man


The report will be given to the Cowlitz County Prosecutor next week

File - Generic Police car_129597

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team has concluded its investigation into the death of a 33-year-old man after Longview police officers shot him during a chase earlier this month and will now pass on their findings to the Cowlitz County Prosecutor.

In completing their investigation, authorities released new details about what happened on that Friday afternoon. As previously published, officers with this Longview Street Crimes Unit tried to arrest the man on October 2 on an outstanding warrant.

The man, identified as Justin Tofte, ran from officers, who then chased him. The report said that detectives had information that Tofte was recently in possession of a firearm, and while chasing him they noticed that there was “something heavy in his right coat pocket,” which he reached for as he fled.

During the chase, officers tried to stop Tofte by using a taser, but he was able to keep running. New details released show that there was only an “intermittent connection” and that the taser did not fully fire.

At one point during the chase, Tofte fell in an alleyway and officers saw a pistol fall out of his pocket. As officers ordered him to put his hands up, detectives said that Tofte picked up the gun. This is when Detective Sanders believed that Tofte “presented an imminent threat to his life and the life of Detective Hartley, as well as a danger to the public.”

Sanders fired his gun three times.

Tofte was hit by one bullet on the right side of his upper chest, near his shoulder. Investigators said he kept running after he was shot but eventually stopped where he was then taken into custody as he reportedly made suicidal comments.

He was taken to the hospital, but did not survive the gunshot wound. A toxicology report later showed that Tofte had methamphetamine, opiates, as well as THC in his system.

According to the investigative findings, the gun that was in Tofte’s possession was a Smith and Wesson pistol that was stolen from a Cowlitz County resident.

The report from the Major Crime Team will be given to the Cowlitz County Prosecutor next week.

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