APD officer missed gun during suspect search
A newly minted Anchorage police officer made a dangerous mistake last week, after charging documents say an initial search of a routine criminal suspect missed a hidden gun he was carrying.
Nobody was injured in the incident, according to police, because the suspect simply tried to hide the weapon in a police vehicle.
Robert Brown, 31, stands charged with felony counts of misconduct involving controlled substances and weapons in the case.
According to charging documents against Brown in the Aug. 14 case, police initially responded to a burglary Brown had reported. Officers didn’t arrest a suspect, but instead took Brown into custody because he was wanted on a vehicle-theft warrant. A search of Brown turned up 41 pills of oxycodone, as well as about 11 grams of heroin.
After an APD officer took Brown to the Anchorage Jail in his vehicle, the officer found a firearm and a baggie containing nearly three grams of cocaine in the back-seat area.
“The officer reviewed [back-seat camera] footage which showed Brown taking a black object from his front waistband and putting it in the door cubby in the back seat,” prosecutors wrote.
APD spokeswoman Kendra Doshier said in an email that Brown’s firearm was a handgun, which was seized after his arrest at about 2:15 a.m. She declined to say whether the weapon was loaded, but confirmed that Brown was secured before he was put into the vehicle.
“Brown was handcuffed,” Doshier wrote. “Prisoners are never placed in the back of patrol vehicles without handcuffs.”
“Officers are trained to conduct thorough searches just as they are trained to routinely check the back of their patrol vehicles before and after transporting prisoners,” Doshier wrote. “That said, these incidents are very rare.”
One of the nation’s deadliest incidents linked to an incomplete search, 20 years ago, involved Florida killing suspect Hank Earl Carr. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Carr was searched but escaped handcuffs using a hidden key as he was being driven in the back of an unmarked car with two Tampa police detectives. He then took a gun from one of the detectives and fatally shot them, before killing a Florida state trooper and ultimately himself during a standoff.
Anchorage police have dealt with at least one case in which a suspect has been able to slip out of handcuffs, during the October 2017 arrest of wanted woman Brandy Nolcini. Police said at the time that Nolcini, 34, was able to slip one wrist free of her cuffs after a Mountain View traffic stop, then knock an officer down and run away; she was arrested again in March, slumped over the wheel of a stolen vehicle on Starview Drive.
Asked for further detail on how many suspect searches APD routinely conducts on an annual basis, or how often guns are missed during those searches, Doshier declined to provide further information. She also declined to provide a demonstration of APD’s typical arrest and search procedures.
Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.