State won’t charge officers in fatal 2017 shooting of Fairbanks man

The state will not charge officers who fatally shot a Fairbanks man last Christmas Eve. An Alaska Office of Special Prosecutions report says three State Troopers and two Fairbanks Police officers lawfully used deadly force against 20 year old Cody Eyre.

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Citing the report, Fairbanks Police spokeswoman Yumi McCullough described what police and Troopers say lead to them firing on Eyre.

”Mr. Eyre did point his gun at the officers and made some pretty strong statements towards them. I don’t want to repeat them because they are pretty graphic; they are in the declamation letter,” McCullough said. “And that made the officers fear for their lives, the lives of their fellow officers and they were close to a residential area and needed to make sure that threat was stopped.”

The report says officers were initially contacted to check on Eyre by a friend in Wasilla who said he’d seen Eyre on Facebook talking about killing himself. Eyre’s mother subsequently called 911, asking for help, saying her son was depressed, had been drinking and had left the house on foot, with a holstered handgun. The report says Eyre repeatedly threatened to kill himself and gestured his gun toward responding officers, as they followed him along roads on Fairbanks east side.

The report says the five officers fired more than forty rounds, in two volleys at Eyre, in between which they say he remained a threat. First aid was administered but Eyre died a short time later at the hospital. The fatal wound was a shot to the back of his head. Eyre’s handgun was not fired, and only carried a single round. Speaking remotely from California, Family attorney Mark Choate says they are disappointed with the Office of Special Prosecution report.

”The decision to not prosecute does not mean that the shooting was ‘justified.’ The decision to not prosecute simply means that the special prosecutor determined that he could not prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the conduct was criminal,” Choate said. “We remain convinced that the evidence will show Cody’s death was the result of poor training and judgment by a swatted-up group of officers who failed in their primary duty to protect Cody.”

Cody Eyre was Alaska Native, and his family believes race was a factor in how law enforcement responded. They are preparing a civil rights lawsuit, and plan to issue a press release soon.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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