The Department of Law Thursday released a detailed legal analysis saying Anchorage police officers involved in the July shooting of a man who raised a look-alike handgun at them should not be prosecuted because they were put in fear of death or serious injury, though the gun turned out to be a BB gun.
The prosecutors, with the state's Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals, had already announced their decision not to file charges against officers but hadn't released the investigation report until now.
The letter, sent from assistant attorney general Clint Campion to Anchorage Police Department detective Mark Huelskoetter, details the July 1 incident when Harry Smith, a 59-year-old Jewel Lake man, was shot and killed in his backyard by police officers responding to a 911 call from his son.
Campion found that the officers "reasonably believed that they were required to use deadly force to prevent Mr. Smith from killing, wounding or injuring the officers as well as the residents of the neighborhood."
The findings echo what the Anchorage Police Department has said all along: that officers were never told that Smith might have a BB gun and were entitled to respond with deadly force when Smith pointed a pistol at them.
Russell Smith, Harry Smith's son, has repeatedly said that he told both a police dispatcher and an officer on scene that his father might have a BB gun. The 911 call, released Wednesday, contains no mention of a BB gun but Russell Smith does say his father wants to commit suicide-by-cop and might try to entice police to shoot him. None of the officers on scene recall Smith telling them about a BB gun, the report found.
Campion writes that he reviewed investigation materials including 911 calls, police radio traffic and video recorded interviews, and autopsy photographs.
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