Police mostly mum on fatal officer-involved shooting as family reels

Casey Grove

Detectives remained tight-lipped about a fatal officer-involved shooting in an Anchorage neighborhood Tuesday morning, while an aunt of the man said her family is outraged over his death.

Police say Carl Bowie III, 25, refused to stop for officers trying to pull him over as he drove a stolen pickup. Bowie evaded and rammed patrol cars until the truck eventually stopped in a driveway at 53rd Avenue and Windflower Street about 10:40 a.m. Two officers shot and killed him. A woman in the pickup's passenger seat -- Bowie's girlfriend, according to his aunt -- was uninjured.

Court records show that Bowie pleaded guilty to felony armed robbery in 2007 and two counts of felony vehicle theft in 2010. According to the Department of Corrections, he was on parole at the time of his death.

Detectives say because their investigation is incomplete, they are not willing to answer many questions about the shooting. It's not clear whether Bowie was driving toward the officers when they fired, if they shouted at him to stop, or if the officers were worried about the schoolyard directly behind the shooting scene.

Some details cannot be made public until a state Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals review is complete, police said. When that and other unspecified "legal issues" are resolved, police will release video of the shooting taken by an officer's car dashboard camera, police spokeswoman Anita Shell said.

In an interview Thursday, Shell said these are the events related to the shooting that she was allowed to disclose:

About 7:50 a.m., a man on Alamosa Drive reported his dark green Ford F-150 stolen. The pickup had been idling with the keys inside. It's unclear if Bowie or someone else stole it.

About 10:18 a.m., an off-duty police dispatcher saw a man in the Dimond Center parking lot peering into parked vehicles and looking suspicious. The dispatcher called police, Shell said.

"She took a distant picture of him, and when he saw her, he drove off," she said.

The woman got the pickup's license plate, and dispatchers quickly determined it was the stolen Ford. They broadcast a description of the truck. An officer spotted the pickup at 10:36 a.m. driving north on Lake Otis Parkway at 88th Avenue, Shell said.

As the Ford continued north on Lake Otis, more police cars with lights flashing joined the pursuit. An officer on Lake Otis, to the north of Waldron Drive, laid down a "spike strip" to puncture the pickup's tires.

"He was going northbound, and when he saw the spike strip, he turned onto Waldron," she said.

Shell, looking through the initial reports, said she had no information to suggest that Bowie drove recklessly or that he came close to causing collisions with other vehicles. She declined to comment on how fast Bowie was driving.

At some point in those winding neighborhood streets, Bowie drove into a dead end, Shell said. She said she didn't know the exact route the pickup took.

Whether the pickup hit a patrol car or spun out, it landed in a snowbank next to a driveway at 1701 E. 53rd Ave., pointing toward the street.

Shell said the detectives also would not say whether the pickup was stuck, if Bowie was still trying to drive off or if he made any threatening gestures.

Two officers drew their handguns and shot, Shell said. Together, they fired seven shots, three of which hit Bowie in the upper torso, she said. The officers' names will be released Friday, in accordance with department policy.

Before the shooting, police notified school officials at Tudor Elementary, which has a playground that extends just behind 53rd Avenue and the shooting scene, that they were trying to arrest a man nearby, according to school district spokeswoman Heather Roach. A school resource officer called soon after to let them know the "situation was resolved," Roach said. The school did not go into "lock down" mode, she said.

A next-door neighbor, Chris Barnett, said he was feeling sick that day and was in bed sleeping.

"I woke up to the sound of gunfire and went to my window upstairs," Barnett said. "The majority of the action had already happened at that point."

What looked like 20 officers surrounded the pickup, Barnett said. Its back tires seemed stuck in the snowbank alongside his neighbor's driveway and the back window was either shot out or otherwise broken, he said. Barnett said he did not see bullet holes in the front of the pickup or in its windshield.

"There was a cop car right in front of the truck there, blocking them in, and there was, I'd say, about five cops with their guns drawn right behind the cop car. They were getting the female, the passenger, out of the (pickup)," Barnett said.

Officers put her in a police car, Barnett said. They pulled the driver out of the pickup and tried to resuscitate him, but soon covered the body with a camouflage blanket, he said. The street was closed for hours afterward and the body remained in the driveway, Barnett said.

"It's not like this is a bad neighborhood or anything," he said. "It just happened to end right here. It could've happened anywhere."

Bowie's aunt, Misty Cartes, said police did not give the dead man's family, which was devastated to learn of the shooting, enough time to warn his two children, an eight-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy. The daughter learned about her father's death while watching TV news that night, Cartes said.

"He was a loving father. He was a loving son. He was super close with his family. That was definitely the most important thing to him," Cartes said.

Cartes said Bowie was a tattoo artist dealing with drug addiction. The family was shocked to see that police sent out a photo of Bowie --taken from his Facebook page --looking thuggish, rather than one of him smiling, Cartes said.

Bowie's girlfriend, who flew to Michigan for drug treatment Wednesday, earlier described the shooting for the family, Cartes said.

"His girlfriend said he had his hands up, and the police kept shooting," Cartes said. "The police blocked him in -- that's when they hit the cars. After that, he stopped. It wasn't like he was continually ramming the vehicles."

"He shouldn't have been doing what he was doing," Cartes said, "but he didn't deserve to die."


Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4589.