Family of Juneau man killed by police say they’re filing a wrongful death lawsuit

Residents and visitors at the Chinook apartment complex in the Mendenhall Valley show tattoos they were given by Kelly “Rabbit” Stephens on, Dec. 29, 2019 in Juneau. Many said they didn’t want their identities known for fear of reprisal. Stephens was killed during an early-morning altercation with Juneau police officer James Esbenshade. (Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

The family of a man killed by police in late December, has announced their intention to sue the Juneau Police Department. 

City police officer James Esbenshade shot and killed Kelly Michael Stephens on December 29 near the Chinook apartment complex in Juneau; police say Stephens threatened to kill Esbenshade who was responding to a 911 call. 

An Anchorage-based law firm, Law Office of Ben Crittenden P.C., announced via press release that Stephens’ parents intend to file a wrongful death lawsuit and will discuss their efforts to seek reform of the Juneau Police department. 

After the shooting, Juneau police put Esbenshade on leave and investigated the circumstances. They found that his use of deadly force was justified and the State of Alaska later decided not to bring criminal charges against him. 

This is a developing story and will be updated as new information becomes available.

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