Friday, May 17, 2013
When Is Deadly Force Justified?
Two men killed this year in officer-involved shootings
ANCHORAGE—Two men were killed this year... by Alaskan law enforcement officers' guns.
Two Alaska State Troopers are on three days of paid leave after shooting and killing an allegedly suicidal 19-year-old Palmer man during a standoff shortly after midnight on Monday—the first Trooper-involved shooting of the year, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety.
Troopers say when they arrived at a home in Palmer, they found Adrian Spindler armed and suicidal.
The Alaska Bureau of Investigation is investigating that shooting.
Troopers have shot 11 people in the past seven years—seven of them fatally, said DPS spokesman Tim DeSpain.
In May, an Anchorage police officer shot and killed a knife-wielding man in Midtown when police say he lunged at officers.
Anchorage police Lt. Dave Parker said the decision to use deadly force is not one that law enforcement officers make lightly.
"Everyone comes to the point where they have to come to a decision that I may have to use deadly force and prepare to do so,” Parker said. “The soul-searching goes on, the responsibility that a person takes in making that decision is tremendous, it's hard.”
Parker said making that decision about whether to shoot to kill is the result of extensive training to make the right call. He said, in some cases, APD’s standards are often more stringent than those of departments in other states, although he said he couldn’t elaborate.
According to Alaska statutes, a peace officer may threaten to use deadly force when the officer “reasonably believes it's necessary to make an arrest, terminate an escape or attempted escape from custody or to make a lawful stop.”
Since last year, APD has had three officer-involved shootings, including the May incident.
In March 2010, police shot and killed a 45-year-old man after a standoff in the Turnagain area. In another standoff a month later, police shot and killed a 48-year-old man in Midtown.
“Officers I've talked to who are on our department and other departments, it's never something taken lightly,” Parker said. “It’s something that person carries with them for the rest of their life. You recognize: this is something I had to do to protect life, but it's something you wish you didn't have to do.”