Anchorage police officers and city cleared in fatal shooting as judge tosses family’s lawsuit

people rally outside
Abdirisak Abdulahi (left) and Mohamud Muhumud (right) hold a sign that reads “Police accountability Bishar Hassan” during a rally in April 2022 in Anchorage. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

A judge has thrown out a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a Black man shot and killed by Anchorage police officers in 2019.

Three officers shot Bishar Hassan, a 31-year-old Somali American, when he walked toward them and pulled out a handgun, later determined to be a BB gun, according to a report by the Alaska Office of Special Prosecutions. The officers had responded to 911 calls about a man with a gun walking into traffic.

The report said Officers Nathan Lewis, Brett Eggiman and Matthew Hall were justified in their use of deadly force. But Hassan’s family disputed the reports’ findings and sued the officers and the city of Anchorage in 2021.

The family’s lawyer, Rex Butler, said in a 2022 interview – shortly after he released video of the shooting – that the officers did not have a valid reason to have contacted Hassan, because Alaska does not have a law against carrying a gun. Butler also said the police dashcam video showed about two minutes had passed from when the officers shot Hassan to when anyone checked on him or attempted to render aid.

Hassan’s shooting was the focus of a rally shortly after the video’s release that was attended by more than 100 people.

On Monday, a U.S. District Court judge sided with the city and the officers. Judge Sharon Gleason threw out all 11 of the Hassan family’s claims, citing video footage of the shooting.

“In sum, the responding officers’ conduct was objectively reasonable because Mr. Hassan posed an immediate threat to the safety of the officers when he pulled his gun out of his waistband and pointed it at the officers,” Gleason wrote in her order tossing the claims.

Butler, the family’s lawyer, did not respond to a phone call Wednesday, nor did the municipality’s lawyer on the case.

Casey Grove is host of Alaska News Nightly, a general assignment reporter and an editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach him at Read more about Casey here

Previous articleAlaska fire season begins with almost two dozen human-caused blazes
Next articleAlaska News Nightly: Wednesday, May 10, 2023