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State won’t charge officers in fatal shooting of Fairbanks 20-year-old

The five Alaska State Troopers and police officers who shot and killed a Fairbanks man in the midst of a crisis on Christmas Eve last year will not be charged with any crime in his death, state prosecutors announced Monday.

In declining to prosecute the officers, the state Office of Special Prosecutions released a detailed account of the police encounter that led to the death of Cody Eyre, 20.

Cody Eyre, 20, was killed in a shooting involving Alaska State Troopers and Fairbanks police officers on Dec. 24, 2017. He is pictured in his Alaska Military Youth Academy uniform. Eyre graduated from the school in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Samantha Eyre-Harrison)

Among the findings in the seven-page report: Police fired more than 40 rounds at Eyre, wounding him 23 times.

Officers were legally entitled to use deadly force against Eyre because he pointed a gun at them and threatened them, wrote Paul Miovas, the head attorney with the Office of Special Prosecutions.

Eyre's death was due to "tactical incompetence" on the part of the police officers, his family said Monday.

"Cody's death was the result of poor training and judgment by a SWAT-ted up group of officers who failed in their primary duty to protect Cody," said Samantha Eyre-Harrison, one of Cody Eyre's four sisters.

Eyre's family have publicly questioned how their own call to police for help with a distressed loved one ended with Eyre dead. They have also complained that authorities had withheld evidence, including audio and body camera footage, that could reveal more about the killing, and have said they plan to file a lawsuit.

The circumstances described in the letter detail an encounter between a distraught young man and police that escalated into a volley of gunfire:

At 6:21 p.m. on Christmas Eve, a friend called 911 to report that Eyre was threatening to commit suicide on Facebook Live.

A half-hour later, Eyre's mom called police.

Eyre was born in Juneau but lived in Fairbanks. A graduate of the Alaska Military Youth Academy, Eyre had served in the Alaska Air National Guard and worked for his family's construction firm.

In the 911 call that night, Eyre's mother told police her son was walking in frigid minus-10-degree Fairbanks weather, upset about a breakup and carrying a gun. She was slowly following her son in a car as he walked around the outskirts of town and wanted police to pick him up.

Seven officers showed up, including Alaska State Troopers Elondre Johnson, Christine Joslin and James Thomas as well as Fairbanks police officers Tyler Larimer and Richard Sweet.

Audio recordings and body camera captured the entire encounter including the shooting, the investigation said.

From the beginning of the encounter, Eyre was acting "erratically," the investigation found.

At times he pointed his gun at his own head and repeatedly threatened to kill himself. Officers "implored" Eyre to drop his gun but he didn't.

At one point, Eyre told troopers "I don't want to hurt any of you." They told him they didn't want to hurt him, either.

Eyre told the troopers he had joined the military to "try to get help" but couldn't serve because of his attention deficit disorder.

At one point, he "growled" at the troopers, the investigation said.

"You guys don't need to kill anybody that s–t doesn't need to be on your conscience," he said.

The officers followed Eyre as he walked. He was nearing a neighborhood, and police officers later said they were worried the situation could escalate if he got close to homes.

In the darkness, they trained a bright spotlight on Eyre.

The encounter turned when, according to the investigation, Eyre pointed his gun in the direction of the police officers.

"Audio recorded captured a trooper saying 'that's at us,' " referring to a gun pointed in their direction, the investigation found.

"You guys can f–king die right now," Eyre told the troopers.

All of the officers opened fire except one who said his hands were too cold to fire his weapon.

Between the five of them, the officers fired more than 40 rounds at Eyre. Fairbanks police officer Tyler Larimer alone fired 28 times on Eyre.

Despite having 23 gunshot wounds, Eyre was alive when the police officers got to him. He was declared dead at the hospital.

The Fairbanks Police Department will hold a press conference Wednesday where body camera video from the incident will be released, the department said.

Prosecutors with the Office of Special Prosecutions had been reviewing the case for more than eight months.

Miovas said it's not typical to release a detailed narrative when describing why prosecutors wont be filing charges in a officer involved shooting, but this case warranted it.

"I personally felt that this was a very important case and the level of detail was important for public transparency purposes and to give the agencies involved and victim's family as thorough an analysis as possible," he said in an email.

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