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Bethel man shot by police told investigator he was hoping officer would kill him

Laurel Andrews
A screengrab from a YouTube video depicting an officer-involved shooting in Bethel on Aug. 15, 2014, uploaded by Bethel radio station KYUK. Aaron Moses was shot by a Bethel police officer in the incident. YouTube screengrab via Ben Matheson

A Bethel man was charged Friday with two counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief following a struggle with two police officers on Aug. 15 that led to him being shot.

Charging documents say Aaron Moses, 31, told investigators after the incident that he wanted to commit suicide, and he had wanted the officers to shoot him in the head.

According to an affidavit from investigator Christopher Long with the Alaska Bureau of Investigation, Moses’ brother, Byron Moses, called the Bethel police at 10:23 a.m. on Aug. 15, saying that Aaron had just broken a window on his vehicle.

Aaron had arrived at Byron’s house that morning looking for a gun, the complaint says. When Byron told Aaron he couldn't have one, his brother became agitated and began to fight Byron, but was stopped by another man in the house. Afterward, Aaron left the house, grabbing a baseball bat from outside, and smashed a window in Byron’s 2004 Jeep Liberty.

Moses began pacing outside the residence, the complaint says. When the officers arrived they found Moses swinging the bat over his head.

Officer Joseph Corbett arrived on the scene first and repeatedly told Aaron to drop the bat. Officer Sammie Hendrix arrived shortly after. Perceiving Moses as a threat, Corbett deployed his Taser but it didn’t stop Moses, the complaint says.

During the struggle, Moses approached officer Hendrix, who fell to the ground. Moses struck Hendrix with the bat twice, once in the left calf and once in the left boot sole.

"Officer Hendrix indicated he discharged his firearm while he was lying on his back when Aaron was swinging the bat at him because he was in fear," Long said. Moses was struck once in the chest.

A three-minute video of the shooting posted by Bethel radio station KYUK shows the altercation between Moses and the police officers. Hendrix falls to the ground at 1 minute 15 seconds into the video, after Moses runs toward him. A popping sound is heard seven seconds later. Moses doesn’t immediately react in the video, and walks behind a shed before stumbling and falling nearly a minute later.

"Officer Corbett approached Aaron to handcuff him and had to remove the bat from Aaron's hand. While being handcuffed, Aaron resisted as if attempting to stand on his feet," Long said.

Moses was taken to the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage. Moses’ aunt, Carolyn Moses, told Alaska Dispatch News that he was in the hospital’s intensive care unit with a punctured lung the day of the shooting.

Troopers spokesperson Megan Peters told Alaska Dispatch News on Aug. 18 that Moses was admitted with “non-life threatening” injuries. Peters did not know Moses’ condition on Tuesday morning.

Carolyn Moses said Tuesday from Bethel that her nephew had been taken out of the intensive care unit.

Aaron Moses was interviewed at the hospital by ABI Investigator Steve Kevan the day after the incident.

"Aaron stated that he was angry and tired of 'holding his breath.' Aaron further stated that he wanted to commit suicide and went to Byron's house so he could get a firearm," Long said in the affidavit. 

"When Officers Corbett and Hendrix arrived at the scene, Aaron wanted them to shoot him in the head," Long said. "When Officer Hendrix fell down, Aaron stated he struck him on the foot with the baseball bat but did not want to hurt him." 

Moses was charged with assault in the second degree, assault in the third degree and criminal mischief. 

Moses had two convictions for assault in 2012 and one conviction for criminal mischief in the fourth degree in 2010, the complaint says. Damage to Byron Moses’ vehicle was estimated at $769, not including installation.

Bail was set at $15,000 with a court-appointed third-party custodian.