The stick Shane Tasi was holding when a police officer shot him to death in Mountain View was not a baseball bat or a police baton. It was not a pool cue or a tree branch, police say.
Just what he was holding, as well as other details on what happened Saturday night leading to the shooting, were not being made public on Tuesday as the investigation into the incident continued, a police spokesman said.
A friend said Tasi had moved to Alaska from American Samoa looking for work several years ago and that he was to start a new job at an Anchorage fish processing plant on Monday. Police say he was causing a commotion Saturday night when a lone patrol officer arrived and ordered Tasi to put down the stick.
In a press release late Tuesday, police identified the veteran officer who fired his weapon as Boaz Gionson. He joined the force in November of 2007.
Like all fatal shootings by a police officer, the incident is first being investigated as a homicide and will lead to an internal affairs inquiry to determine if Gionson followed department policy, said Lt. Dave Parker, a department spokesman. Here's what police know so far, Parker said:
The first 911 call came at 9:24 p.m., Parker said. Someone reported a "Samoan male making a disturbance" on Bunn Street in Mountain View. The man was outside a house, shirtless and screaming, the caller said.
Another call followed soon after. Dispatchers were told an apparently intoxicated man was in the Bunn Street area and had "attacked the neighbor's dog and (was) yelling at its owner," Parker said.
The first officer, Gionson, arrived within 15 minutes. The confrontation was over in seconds, Parker said.
Tasi stood at the north side of the apartments, near an alley that separates North Bunn Street and North Lane Street, according to police. The man was making his way from the house toward the alley, where the approaching patrol officer was getting out of his car, Parker said.
Police interviewed several civilian witnesses about what happened next, Parker said. "The officer repeatedly told him to put the stick down. 'Put it down, put it down,' and he didn't do that," the police spokesman said.
The stick appeared to be three to four feet long, Parker said.
"It appeared to the witnesses that (Tasi) was aggressively approaching the officer with the stick in a 'strike' type position," Parker said, illustrating the point by holding his hands like a baseball player gripping a bat. "And that was when the officer elected to use deadly force."
Police received a report of multiple shots fired outside the apartment at 9:38 p.m.
A second officer was approaching on Bunn Street and others were en route at the time of the shooting, Parker said.
Parker said he didn't know if any recordings of the encounter exist. "I don't think the officer had his recorder on."
Medics arrived and took Tasi -- who police estimate to be about 5-foot-10 and 210 pounds -- to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, Parker said.
The police spokesman declined to say where on his body Tasi was struck or how many times he was shot. "We can't discuss that until the investigation is finished."
PEPPER SPRAY AND TASERS
One 911 caller described Tasi as intoxicated, but police are not saying whether they believe Tasi had been drinking or using drugs before his encounter with police.
Andre Livingston, a neighbor, said he had seen Tasi earlier in the evening. The man was shirtless as he crossed the road and seemed drunk, he said.
Gionson carried pepper spray but not a Taser, Parker said. Pepper spray is not always effective against people who are enraged or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he said.
Alaska State Troopers and some law enforcement agencies in the Lower 48 outfit all officers with Tasers, but in Anchorage only about 35 to 40 percent of officers carried the "less-than-lethal" devices last year, according to funding request the department made to the 2011 Legislature.
In the case of the Mountain View shooting, police procedures likely would not have allowed the officer to use a Taser even if he had one, Parker said. That's because at least two officers would need to be on hand, one to use the Taser and one to back up with lethal force, if necessary.
"Most police departments have some kind of a rule like that," he said.
MEMORIAL ON THE FENCE
Police say Tasi lived at the light-yellow fourplex where he was killed on the 700 block of North Bunn Street. In public records he listed another address a few blocks away, on North Lane Street, and lived briefly in Dutch Harbor in 2007.
A small memorial appeared this week along the short chain link fence and the lawn where Tasi was shot. A can of orange Fanta and a Corona beer bottle sat beside plastic leis and real roses. Aja Siatini's daughter made a sign for the fence: "Rest in Peace Shane."
Siatini visited the memorial on Monday. She met Tasi through her sister, who worked with him at fish processing plants in Dutch Harbor, she said.
Tasi tried to phone Siatini about 7 p.m. Saturday, less than three hours before the 911 calls. She missed the calls but says she now feels she should have taken them as a sign something was wrong.
A handsome man known for taking his kids to the park and his drawings, which incorporated Samoan designs, Tasi had three children with another on the way, she said.
Court records show Tasi was convicted of driving while intoxicated three times, in 2006 and 2007. Over the years, he worked in fish processing, at Johnson's Tire and at Hula Hands restaurant, Siatini said.
He was supposed to start his new job at a seafood processing plant at 7 p.m. Monday, she said.
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