'We want answers': Family of man killed in APD standoff shares home surveillance video
Graphic Content Warning: This article contains information and images that some readers may find upsetting.
"You, sir, in the red jacket, put both hands in the air. Empty hands in the air now, right now," an Anchorage Police Department officer shouts over a speaker.
The man in the red shirt is holding a gun. He ignores the command and tries to open the locked door of his family home.
The moment is captured in a Ring doorbell camera. It's one of multiple surveillance cameras on the South Anchorage home that recorded hours of video during the SWAT standoff that left a man dead and a K-9 officer injured on Aug. 26.
The man in the red jacket is Amphone Phoummany's brother, 38-year-old Kevin Phoummany.
Amphone says her family knows Kevin as a lighthearted and hardworking father of two. The car fanatic and Dimond High School graduate struggled with addiction and a medical condition that caused chronic pain. A psychology student, Amphone believes her brother also had an undiagnosed mental health issue.
Nevertheless, he held down a job for the last six or seven years as an auto detailer, she said.
"That's something I would always carry with me and I'm so proud to say that he's my brother because he was still able to wake up every day to go to work to support his kids, support his family, no matter what," Amphone said.
On Aug. 26, Kevin was unstable. He had a gun. Worried neighbors called the police.
Amphone, who was out of the state at the time, learned from the news that evening that APD had shot and killed her brother.
"It’s still very unclear to me what happened and I want to know what happened," she said.
In a community alert, APD said officers were called to the area of Strawberry Road and Wildberry Loop around 2:30 p.m. after receiving a report of a suspicious person with a gun.
While officers were on their way to the scene, they were told Kevin was under the influence of drugs, threatening suicide and pointing his gun at people.
Police said officers arrived and saw him standing outside of a vehicle holding a handgun. He ignored commands from officers and walked toward the home attempting to get in through the front door.
During a news conference, hours after the shooting, APD Chief Justin Doll said Kevin fired his gun, breaking a window next to the door, then pointed the gun at officers and fired a shot, before going into the home through the broken window.
SWAT responded, along with crisis negotiators, but APD said Kevin did not respond to them for hours.
"The suspect did not respond to any of the officers' attempts to gain his compliance and at about 6:35 p.m., the SWAT team deployed chemical agents into the residence," Doll said. "At that point the suspect exited the residence through a rear window. He appeared to be armed with a large sword. He approached a perimeter team that included a police K-9, he attacked the police K-9 with the sword, and was shot by the swat officer that was in the perimeter position. The suspect was subsequently transported to the hospital where he was pronounced deceased at about 7 p.m."
During the media appearance, Doll reinforced the statement, saying, "He attacked the police K-9 with a sword."
A backyard camera, activated by movement, started recording after Kevin left the house. It shows smoke from tear gas leaving the rear window and a fire alarm can be heard going off. In the bottom right corner of the frame, Kevin can be seen on the ground. The family believes the K-9 officer is tugging on his body, causing him to be slowly removed from view.
Minutes later, members of the SWAT team are seen carrying Kevin's body away. APD said he was later declared deceased at a hospital.
"I see that my brother's struggling. He’s down on his back, and he has his arms up, and he’s being dragged down and he’s being shot at," Amphone said, describing the footage. "Multiple shots is what I hear. And I see that he’s actually killed in the video so, it’s tough to watch. And I can’t watch it sometimes."
Of all the video captured that day, the 31-second clip is the one that raises the most questions for Kevin's family. Amphone believes it contradicts what police have said about the case publicly, and she believes the pops and bangs heard as her brother lies on his back are the gunshots that killed him.
"What I see is my brother being shot and killed while he was down," she said. "I haven’t had APD reach out to me. I have not talked to anybody. I just see what I see and it’s not what I’m reading. It doesn’t match at all."
After previous officer-involved shootings, Chief Doll’s remarks have included that, once the scene was secured, officers began life saving measures. Those measures were not mentioned in the news conference following Kevin's death and do not appear in the surveillance video provided by the family.
Police remained on the scene into the night and the following morning. Around midnight, the backyard surveillance camera that captured Kevin's last moments was removed from the home. It continued to record as an officer carried it into the crime scene van.
"My brother is not a perfect person, but he is a human being and I want everyone to know that no one deserves to die in that way," Amphone said. "No matter what struggles they’re going through or what mental illness they suffer from, that should not happen to anyone."
She wishes things had gone differently.
"My dad had told the negotiator, 'If he’s done any wrong, please just detain him. Don’t kill him,' and they just removed my family from that area. [...] They didn’t allow my dad to get close to him or anything like that. He said, 'If he’s done any wrong, please just take him to jail,' like, 'Don’t kill him,' and it didn’t result like that. So it’s hard," she said.
The family wanted to share the video with the community, in the that hopes it will lead to answers.
"I want law enforcement to be honest. I want to know what happened to my brother. I want closure for my family," Amphone said.
Until then, they're holding on to what they have — photos and memories of Kevin on good days, and the video captured of his last.
KTVA sent several questions to APD after viewing the video, including whether Kevin approached the K-9 or if the K-9 was released to subdue him as well as whether police lawfully removed the backyard camera.
APD spokesperson MJ Thim responded with a request that KTVA not publish this report.
"We are asking your team to not publish evidence in this investigation. All parties involved deserve a fair, complete, and thorough investigation of the events of that day. If the Office of Special Prosecutions finds that a law was violated by any of the individuals involved, releasing evidence could hurt the investigation and not ensure a fair trial.
As this is an on-going and active investigation, we are not commenting further at this time from what was published our Nixle platform and at the press conference.
Our detectives continue to communicate will all involved with this investigation.
Furthermore, the incident, including the attack on us, happened less than a month ago. The feelings of the officers, suspect, suspect’s family, and officer’s families are all still very raw. Exposing any of them to any footage of the event could be detrimental to the healing process they are all currently going through.
Again, we kindly ask your team not publish this evidence. We’d ask you to wait until all investigations are complete and the full investigative report is made available to the public by the prosecutor’s office. You’ll want to follow up with their office for further information on that process."
Thim did send a link to the department's officer-involved shooting policy.
Copyright 2019 KTVA. All rights reserved.
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