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Bethel hires Anchorage lawyer to address police cases

Lisa Demer

BETHEL -- The city of Bethel has hired an Anchorage lawyer to represent it in any cases that arise from last week’s police shooting and an earlier incident that resulted in a witness complaint of police brutality.

Bill Ingaldson, a former state prosecutor with a longstanding private practice in Anchorage, said he was retained on an hourly basis and that his firm has worked previously for Bethel. The amount the city is paying wasn’t immediately available.

The Bethel Police Department has not yet released the names of the two officers who responded Friday to a disturbance that ended with a man being shot in the abdomen.

A video posted on KYUK’s website and Facebook page shows a man with a baseball bat rushing the officers and ends with the man on the ground being restrained. It’s impossible to tell exactly when the man was shot. Family members have identified the man as Aaron Moses. He was flown to Anchorage for treatment.

City officials referred questions to Ingaldson, who said he would look into whether more information could be provided about the shooting and the earlier incident, which happened July 12 in the parking lot of the AC Value Center.

No one has sued yet, Ingaldson said.

Alaska State Troopers are investigating the shooting. Police investigated the earlier complaint.

Linda Green, an anthropologist and visiting professor from Arizona who conducts research in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region each summer, said she saw an officer repeatedly slam a man to the ground in the parking lot the morning of July 12. She described what she saw as brutality.

“This is totally not necessary and totally not OK,” said Green, who lives in Tucson, has worked in Guatemala and said she is familiar with rough situations. She filed a formal complaint about what she saw and, when she didn't hear back after a few days, took the matter to the local newspaper and KYUK.

Attorney Sean Brown, who worked for years in Bethel and now operates out of Anchorage, has notified the city that he is representing Wassillie Gregory, the man involved in the AC store incident.

Gregory and his family haven’t decided whether to sue but believe they have a case, Brown said. Gregory needed medical treatment as a result of what happened in the parking lot, Brown said.

Ingaldson said people should withhold judgment until more is known.

“It’s really easy to judge these things from the comfort of our desk or from the relative protection of being across the street or seeing things on the videotape,” Ingaldson said. “But when you are in the heat of the battle, so to speak, things are happening fast.”