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Crime & Courts

State: Anchorage police officer justified in shooting that killed knife-wielding man

State investigators have concluded that an Anchorage police officer was justified in shooting and killing a knife-wielding man March 24.

Officer Randy Morales fired on Zander Clark following a reported stabbing near the Northway Mall, according to an Office of Special Prosecutions report. The Special Prosecutions office is part of the state Department of Law and investigates police shootings to determine when deadly force is considered justified under Alaska law.

Morales was one of multiple Anchorage police officers dispatched to the Northway Mall after a report at 6:28 p.m. that Clark had stabbed his girlfriend in the mall parking lot, according to the Office of Special Prosecutions report.

Morales found Clark, who was on foot, and ordered him to stop, according to the report. Clark walked toward Morales with a pocket knife in hand and yelled, "Please shoot me," the report says.

Clark then ran away. Morales ran after him into the nearby Penland Park mobile home neighborhood. In a subsequent encounter that was captured in an audio recording but not on video, Morales could be heard yelling at Clark to drop the knife, investigators wrote. The sound of gunshots followed.

The Office of Special Prosecutions wrote: "Clark failed to comply with Officer Morales' commands and neither dropped the knife nor stopped running towards the officer. As the distance closed between the two men, Officer Morales reported that he believed that he was about to be stabbed, so he drew his weapon and fired multiple times at Clark."

The investigation concluded that Clark "made himself an instantaneous threat to Officer Morales' life and physical wellbeing."

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