ANCHORAGE, Alaska —
The head of the Alaska State Troopers says officers are dealing with more aggressive behavior from suspects. The comments from Col. Keith Mallard came after Friday's deadly trooper-involved shooting on the Glenn highway near Thunderbird Falls. Mallard says 29 year-old Justin Lloyd Abrahamson was shot and killed after "assaultive" behavior with a bat. Officers had tried different attempts to subdue Abrahamson, including the use of a taser. It is the sixth trooper-involved shooting in 2012 and the first to end deadly.
"We take every step possible to apprehend a suspect but really when an individual becomes assaultive, that risks the police officer's life, or someone else's," says Col. Mallard.
Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics show an upward trend in the number of assaults against officers in Alaska, while nationally, the numbers have decreased. In Alaska, from 2007 to 2010 (the most recent statistics available):
-253 officers assaulted in 2007
-287 officers assaulted in 2008
-315 officers assaulted in 2009
-386 officers assaulted in 2010
The Anchorage Police department has had three officer-involved shootings this year and two were deadly. In June, an officer shot and killed 26 year-old Shane Tasi after Tasi approached the officer swinging a broken broom handle. A few weeks later, Harry Smith, 59, was shot and killed by two officers who believed the BB gun he was pointing at police to be real. After the incidents, APD spokesman Lt. Dave Parker detailed the priorities that officers take into consideration when they are in a dangerous situation.
"Our first priority is the preservation of innocent life. Second priority would be the preservation of officers' lives and the third priority would be the preservation even of the subject's lives that we're dealing with, who are acting out and creating the problem," says Parker.
The Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals is investigating Friday's deadly shooting and the actions taken by the trooper involved.