APD officers shoot and kill man suspected of car theft

The downtown headquarters of the Anchorage Police Department on June 9, 2020 (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

Police officers shot and killed a man suspected of vehicle theft early Sunday morning, according to the Anchorage Police Department. 

Police Chief Justin Doll said officers responded to a call around 12 a.m. Sunday reporting a stolen vehicle in Anchorage’s Russian Jack neighborhood. Police located the Chevy Tahoe abandoned near Russian Jack Park, set up a perimeter and called for a K9 unit.

Doll said officers found the suspect in the woods. According to Doll, the man ignored officers’ commands to surrender, and four officers fired their weapons, killing him.

Doll said the victim reportedly told the officers he was carrying a gun, but it’s not clear if he threatened them. At a media briefing early Sunday, Doll said whatever prompted the shooting remains under investigation.

“The initial reports that I have are that he did make some statements about being armed to the officers,” he said. “But that’s something that we want to dive into as we not only do the interviews with the involved officers, but the crime scene team works through the scene out there in the woods.”

The state Office of Special Prosecutions is overseeing the investigation, along with detectives from the Anchorage Police Department, to review whether any laws were broken in the officer-involved shooting, and their findings will be made public. Anchorage police will also conduct an internal investigation to determine whether the officers followed department policy. 

Doll said the suspect’s identity will be released after his next of kin are notified. According to police department policy, the names of the officers involved will be released three days after the shooting. 

This is the third fatal officer-involved shooting in Anchorage this year.

Kavitha George is Alaska Public Media’s climate change reporter. Reach her at kgeorge@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Kavitha here.

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