Last summer, an Alaska State Trooper fatally shot a man in the lower Yukon Delta community of St. Mary’s. Now his family is filing a wrongful-death lawsuit against the trooper.
On August 2, the Alaska State Troopers responded to a call involving 28-year-old Carl Tyson of St. Mary’s and Justin Evan, a Village Public Safety Officer in the community. According to the Troopers’ dispatch, the VPSO was responding to a domestic violence incident. AST Sergeant Brent Hatch arrived on the scene, and Tyson reportedly ran away. Tyson stopped running a short time later and was fatally shot by Sergeant Hatch.
Myron Angstman is a Bethel-based attorney representing the family of the deceased, Carl Tyson.
“This trooper pulled up, while the two were still engaged in discussion, right in there, outside in the community, and jumped out of his vehicle, and as he jumped out of his vehicle, the deceased ran off into the woods,” Angstman said.
According to the lawsuit, Sergeant Hatch pulled up “recklessly” and allegedly collided with the back end of a parked vehicle on the scene.
The lawsuit states that Tyson was legally allowed to run from the scene, since he was not under arrest at the time. Eyewitnesses say Hatch drew his weapon before chasing Tyson into the woods.
After reportedly running a distance of less than a mile, eyewitnesses say that Tyson turned to see a weapon drawn on him. According to Angstman, witnesses believe the distance between Sgt. Hatch and Tyson was approximately 30-40 feet. At this time, Tyson reportedly pulled out an ulu knife from his pocket.
“… and then started back towards the trooper, walking slowly with both arms extending to his side, [to his side] and up,” Angstman said.
The dispatch reports the object as a knife, while the lawsuit identifies it as an ulu, a small, curved knife. The lawsuit claims that in St. Mary’s it is understood to be a “domestic tool” and not a “fighting weapon.”
The trooper dispatch states that Tyson did not respond to Sergeant Hatch’s calls to drop “his weapon.” Angstman admits that eyewitness accounts of the event are “differing.”
Sergeant Hatch opened fire on Tyson, and he died from his gunshot wounds. The lawsuit claims that Sergeant Hatch failed to seek medical help for Tyson after he was wounded. Brent Hatch is being sued for acting outside of his duties as a trooper. The Tyson family filed the suit earlier this month, asking more than $100,000 for financial and emotional damages.
Attorney Myron Angstman explains that the exact amount will be determined by the judge. One of the factors in a wrongful death lawsuit is the lost income the decedent would have earned, and his estate has yet to determine that number.
A spokesperson for the Alaska State Troopers declined to comment further, citing the ongoing litigation.