APD Shootings Spark Rally, Community Concern

Poster by the Polynesian Community Center to advertise the rally.

The Polynesian community is leading a Rally to raise awareness about recent shootings by Anchorage Police Officers. Protesters want the APD to adopt a policy of shooting to disarm rather than to kill. But the APD says that’s not likely.

Polynesian community groups are calling on the Anchorage Police Department to reconsider their policy on shooting people. Miriama Aumavae is the Executive Director of the Polynesian Community Center. She says they’re trying to get the APD to consider changing their policy from shoot to kill to shoot to disarm.

“This is our way of stepping up and wanting to be heard, you know in this cause. We want to combine some efforts on trying to implement better protocols on shooting to disarm versus shooting to kill,” Aumavae said.

June 9, an Anchorage Police Officer shot and killed Shane Tasi who was brandishing a stick in the Mountain View Neighborhood, saying the stick was a deadly weapon. Aumavae says the shooting sent shock waves through the community.

“One thing about the Polynesian Community is that we have a unique sense of unity. So we love our families. So you know this death did not just affect the Tasi family, but it affected us as a community as a whole. So we are trying to combine efforts with the police department so that we can prevent. You know we can put protocols in place so that we can prevent this types of tragedies from occurring,” she said.

Lieutenant David Parker is a public information officer with the APD. He says the policy of the APD is to use deadly force against those that threaten officers or other citizens.

“In both of these situations that we’ve had recently, the officers were not in control of the situation. It was the person with the weapon that was in control that was acting out. Had Mr. Tasi stopped and obeyed the orders of the officer who was then pointing a gun at him instead of proceeding towards him and trying to strike him with the stick, he would not have been shot,” Parker said.

APD officials say Chief Mark Mew is planning to meet with select members of the Anchorage Community Police Relations task force and some leaders of the Polynesian community Friday, including Aumavae. Representatives from Mayor Dan Sullivan’s office say they also plan to attend the meeting and will be at the rally. No word on whether Chief Mew will attend. The rally is set for Saturday, July 7 at noon at the Far North Bicentennial Park near the Anchorage Police Department on Martin Luther King Avenue. It is open to the public.

Anchorage Police Officers have shot three people this year, two fatally.

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Daysha Eaton, KMXT - Kodiak
Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.