Crime & Courts

Motorcyclist fatally shot after pursuit by Palmer and Wasilla police when he reached for what turned out to be a BB gun, troopers say

Palmer and Wasilla police officers shot at and killed a motorcyclist Thursday evening after he led them on a 17-minute pursuit and then attempted to retrieve what appeared to be a handgun from a holster, the Alaska State Troopers said in a statement.

Upon further investigation, officials discovered the firearm was a full-size BB gun designed to look like a handgun, the department said.

The incident began at 6:43 p.m., officials said, when 27-year-old Wasilla resident Zaqua Radle-Maxson was driving a motorcycle near the Alaska State Fairgrounds and did not stop after a Palmer officer tried to pull him over.

Troopers spokesman Austin McDaniel said in an email that Radle-Maxson was driving a street bike, but he did not have the make and model available.

Wasilla Police Department officers joined the pursuit after Palmer police requested assistance, officials said.

Radle-Maxson stopped on Church Road near Spruce Avenue in Wasilla and “attempted to retrieve” a holstered handgun from his belt, the troopers’ statement said.

Palmer and Wasilla officers fired and Radle-Maxson was killed. Troopers didn’t specify how many officers fired their weapons, and when asked, McDaniel said there were “multiple” officers at the scene.

“Investigators are working to determine how many officers discharged their weapons and how many times,” McDaniel said.

The officers who discharged their weapons were placed on administrative leave and will be identified in 72 hours, officials said.

Officials determined the gun was a full-size BB gun without an orange tip “or other markings indicating that it wasn’t a firearm,” the department said.

No officers were injured in the incident, officials said, and Wasilla and Palmer police requested that Alaska State Troopers conduct an investigation.

The Alaska Department of Law’s Office of Special Prosecutions will review the case after Troopers conclude their findings, the statement said.