Fairbanks police officer won’t be charged for fatal summer shooting

Fairbanks Police Department commander’s Dodge Charger. (Flickr Creative Commons photo by Steven H. Robinson)

A Fairbanks police officer will not be charged for fatally shooting a man last summer. On Friday, Fairbanks Police Chief Eric Jewkes announced the findings of an Alaska Office of Special Prosecutions investigation of the downtown shooting. The report said Sgt. Gregory Foster took reasonable actions.

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Fairbanks police Chief Eric Jewkes punctuated his briefing Friday (Feb. 24) by playing a pair of videos of officers responding to reports of an armed man at a South Cushman St. motel on August 30th. Jewkes underscored the number of times police officers called out to James Robert Richards Jr. to stop and put down his weapon. Richards seemed unfazed by Tasers fired at him and continued to walk north on South Cushman. It was when he took an elderly man by the arm and seemed to be using him as a shield that Sgt Gregory shot Richards twice in the head, killing him. Chief Jewkes said the shooting was regrettable.

“These officers go out to protect and preserve life every single day,” Jewkes said. “Unfortunately, on this day, it required them to take a life.”

Jewkes said the videos provide a window in the chaotic events dispatchers and police often find themselves. He used the release of a report into the shooting by the state Office of Special Prosecutions to praise his team’s professionalism. The investigation found Sgt. Gregory’s actions were reasonable under the circumstances and no charges would follow.

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