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Press Release

Office of Special Prosecutions Statement on Juneau Officer-Involved Shooting

August 20, 2020

(Anchorage, AK) – The State of Alaska’s Office of Special Prosecutions reached out to the Stephens family through their attorney, offering to meet with them to discuss their request that the investigation be reopened. The family declined to meet. The Office of Special Prosecutions then sent a letter to the family’s attorney responding to their request.

The Office of Special Prosecutions will not file criminal charges.  The statements in the video released to the media by the family’s attorney do not represent a premeditated plan to find and kill Mr. Stephens. When Officer Esbenshade responded to a report of a gunshot at the Chinook Apartments, he had no reason to believe that Mr. Stephens was involved in that incident. Additionally, after Mr. Stephens began to advance on the officer, while swinging the rope and chain over his head, Officer  Esbenshade backed away from Mr. Stephens and told him four times to “stop” and “hold it right there.”It was not until after retreating for a full twenty seconds, while Mr. Stephens was yelling that he was going to kill the officer, that Officer Esbenshade fired a single shot at Mr. Stephens. These actions, as recorded on the video and as described by an independent eye-witness, are not consistent with Officer Esbenshade having a premeditated plan to find and kill Mr. Stephens. Instead, the statements in the video by Officer Esbenshade can more fairly be viewed as the officer verbalizing how he would deal with a situation similar to what had happened in the Super Bear parking lot earlier that night.

CONTACT: Chief Assistant Attorney General Jack R. McKenna at (907) 269-6250 or jack.mckenna@alaska.gov.

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Department Media Contact:Assistant Attorney General Maria Bahr at (907) 269-5285 or maria.bahr@alaska.gov.