Crime & Courts

No criminal charges for Mat-Su school board member who shot suspect near his property

WASILLA — A Mat-Su School Board and state parole board member who shot a man near his Wasilla-area property as he tried to escape arrest in March will not face charges.

Palmer District Attorney Roman Kalytiak announced his decision not to pursue criminal charges against Richard "Ole" Larson in an email Thursday to Alaska Dispatch News and the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman. Larson sits on the Matanuska-Susitna Borough's school board.

Through attorney and former Wasilla Mayor Verne Rupright, Larson has acknowledged shooting 24-year-old Codey Tallman after he ran across Larson's property near Bogard Road trying to elude Alaska State Troopers.

Tallman had ditched his pickup nearby. Troopers suspected he was heroin user and Tallman was also the suspect in a series of thefts at local businesses.

Larson told Tallman to stop and Tallman shoved him, troopers said at the time. Tallman later knocked Larson to the ground, and Larson followed him into some woods, where Tallman knocked him down again, they said. When Larson started calling troopers, Tallman hit him.

That's when Larson "removed a .38 caliber handgun from his (pocket) and advised Tallman he was armed and told him to stop," according to a trooper's report. Tallman charged and Larson shot him in the leg.

Tallman was not on Larson's property at the time he was shot, Kalytiak said in an email Thursday. He was in Larson's neighborhood.


[Read more: Mat-Su debates 'vigilante' justice after school board member shoots fleeing suspect]

Kalytiak said he reviewed information gathered by troopers with two senior assistant district attorneys.

His ultimate decision centered in part on Tallman's criminal history and Larson's lack of it, Kalytiak wrote in the email detailing his decision.

"It is obvious that Mr. Larson would claim self-defense at trial," he wrote. "Due to Mr. Tallman's dangerous conduct that day and his lack of credibility, the prosecution would not be able to disprove self-defense, which is our burden in a trial of this type."

Prosecuting such a case wouldn't be a "wise use" of state resources, Kalytiak added. Courts around the state are under financial pressure given the ongoing fiscal crisis.

Alaska laws regarding self defense prohibit the use of deadly force "if the person knows that, with complete personal safety and with complete safety as to others being defended, the person can avoid the necessity of using deadly force by leaving the area of the encounter."

Exceptions include incidents on one's property or as a guest or "express or implied agent" of the owner, assisting a peace officer or protecting a member of one's own household.

A more recent exception added in 2013 states a person is not required to retreat to avoid using deadly force if they are "in any other place where the person has a right to be."

Tallman's trial is scheduled for later in the summer.

Zaz Hollander

Zaz Hollander is a veteran journalist based in the Mat-Su and is currently an ADN local news editor and reporter. She covers breaking news, the Mat-Su region, aviation and general assignments. Contact her at