Family of man killed by police in Fairbanks files lawsuit

Family members pose with a portrait of Cody Eyre near the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau in February 2018. Cody Eyre, originally from Juneau, was killed by law enforcement in Fairbanks on Dec. 24, 2017, and his family is seeking more information about the incident. (Courtesy Samantha Eyre Harrison)

The family of a man shot and killed by police in Fairbanks in 2017 has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Cody Eyre’s family claims that the city of Fairbanks and the Alaska Department of Public Safety failed to properly train officers to respond to a mental health crisis, and that officers used excessive force.

Eyre was originally from Juneau.

Last year, the state decided not to charge the officers involved in the shooting. Video and audio from the incident was released shortly after that decision. The footage showed officers following the 20-year-old for about 11 minutes as he walked along snowy streets threatening to kill himself.

Eyre’s mother called 911 on Christmas Eve asking for a welfare check on her son. She told dispatchers he was depressed and had been drinking before leaving the house with a loaded handgun.

Officers from the Fairbanks Police Department and the Alaska State Troopers responded. They repeatedly ordered him to put down his gun.

Police said they opened fire when Eyre pointed his weapon at officers and threatened them. He was shot 12 times and later died at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

In addition to the city of Fairbanks and the state, the lawsuit names several officers who were involved in the shooting.

In the lawsuit, Eyre’s family says that officers overreacted by crowding him and shining lights into his eyes, rather than deescalating the situation by bringing in a mental health professional.

The lawsuit was filed in Fairbanks District Court. Juneau-based lawyer Mark Choate is representing the family.

Tim DeSpain, a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Public Safety, said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

Teal Soden, a spokesperson for the city of Fairbanks, said on Wednesday the city had not yet been served with a lawsuit.

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