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More questions than answers after Anchorage dad shot dead by police

Suzanna Caldwell
Suzanna Caldwell photo

A neighborhood in Anchorage is reeling from the death of a man who was shot Saturday after brandishing a stick at police officers.

The 700 block of North Bunn Street in Mountain View was quiet Monday afternoon, days after the shooting death of Shane Tasi, 26.

At 9:30 p.m. Saturday, officers responded to complaints of a man screaming and yelling at passing cars. Another complaint said he had been yelling and attacking a neighbor's dog. When officers arrived Tasi was in the front yard, highly agitated and brandishing a 3-foot to 4-foot-long stick. Tasi aggressively approached an officer and refused directions to drop the stick. When he came close, the officer -- whose name will not be released until Tuesday -- fired, killing Tasi.

Witnesses said they heard three shots, but Anchorage Police Department spokesman Lt. Dave Parker could not confirm that, citing the ongoing investigation. An autopsy will determine whether Tasi was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Annie Levi has lived in the neighborhood since August. Levi knew Tasi from his regular visits to the Holiday gas station she works at a few blocks away. They attended the same school in American Samoa.

"He always smiles every time he comes in," Levi said. "He always has stories, always. Just loves his kids."

Roy Dille-Hayes, a five-year resident of the neighborhood, said the area is generally quiet. He would often encounter Tasi and his family while walking his dog. Tasi's young children -- two boys he described as young, one a toddler and the other about 4 or 5 -- would often pet Dille-Hayes' dog.

"They seemed like a normal couple," he said.

'Why use a gun?'

Some in the neighborhood questioned the use of deadly force by officers. All officers carry pepper spray, but not all carry Tasers. Parker said in a case where someone comes at an officer with a potentially deadly weapon, it's not uncommon for the responding officer to employ a handgun instead of pepper spray.

"Used on a highly agitated person, or a person under the influence of drugs, (pepper spray) has been shown to have no effect," he said.

Officers are also trained to shoot for the center of mass when applying deadly force, Parker said.

"You know on TV, on old Westerns, where they shoot the gun out of someone's hand? That doesn't happen," he added.

A small memorial was erected Monday near Tasi's apartment complex, complete with silk leis, candles, a Corona beer and Fanta orange soda. Attempts to reach residents of the complex were unsuccessful.

Levi said Tasi was never aggressive. She described him as humble, usually seen walking around the neighborhood with his children or cracking jokes at the gas station.

"What I don't get is why use a gun or one bullet?" Levi said. "All he had was a stick."

Contact Suzanna Caldwell at suzanna(at)alaskadispatch.com

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