An Anchorage police officer shot and killed a man in Mountain View on Saturday night after he was acting aggressively and walking toward the officer with a big stick, according to police.
The shooting of Shane Tasi, 26, is under investigation and the officer's name will not be released for three days, both of which are standard in such cases, said the police spokesman, Lt. Dave Parker. The officer is considered a veteran, Parker said.
Police began getting calls about a disturbance in Mountain View just before 9:30 p.m. One caller said a man was yelling at passing cars. Another said he was attacking a neighbor's dog. He was wearing black shorts and was bare chested, police were told.
Several officers went to the location, in the 700 block of North Bunn Street. Tasi lived in a fourplex there. He was married, Parker said, but the lieutenant didn't know if he had children. A neighbor said she used to see him playing with his children outside.
Parker only had preliminary reports to review and said it wasn't yet clear how many officers were outside their vehicles as the situation escalated. One neighbor, Laura Martin, said she watched the incident unfold while smoking a cigarette outside. She said she saw three or four officers standing in the area.
Why didn't the officers subdue him, given that he didn't have a gun? Parker said the investigation will determine whether deadly force was justified. Under police policy, it generally should only be used to protect life, he said.
Some officers were just arriving and the man was moving toward the officer who ultimately shot him, Parker said.
"He was brandishing a stick, like a weapon," Parker said. "I can kill you just as easily with a stick as I can with a baseball bat or an ice pick, or a knife. I mean, it's a dangerous situation."
Anchorage police officers generally carry pepper spray, but only a few have Tasers, which allow the user to stun and subdue someone acting aggressively, Parker said. This officer had pepper spray but not a Taser, he said. The Anchorage Police Department is gradually equipping all officers with Tasers. Would a Taser have made a difference? That will be addressed by the investigation, Parker said.
Police interviewed witnesses late into the night, Parker said. More than one told police separately that the officer tried repeatedly to get Tasi to put down the stick. "But the guy was closing in and the officer had to take action," Parker said.
Martin said as she saw it, Tasi was not going after the officer. When police came, he was having an argument with three teenagers. He was chasing them with the stick, "not the cops," she said. She doesn't understand why he was shot. She was shook up and cried after the shooting. She's from Kwigillingok, a village southwest of Bethel, and has only lived in Anchorage since last year.
"I thought I've seen everything. But this is the first time I've really seen something," Martin said.
As Tasi got close to the officer, the officer fired a police pistol, striking him. The man was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.
No one answered the door at any of the apartments in Tasi's building Sunday afternoon.
Parker didn't have details on the dispute with the neighbor over the dog.
Homicide detectives and crime scene investigators are conducting the investigation.
Reach Lisa Demer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4390.
By LISA DEMER
Anchorage Daily News