News and Press Releases

Alleged Poor Tactical Decisions or Judgments No Legal Basis for Federal Criminal Charges

January 31, 2008

United States Attorney Jeffrey C. Sullivan announced today that after an extensive review of the facts and federal criminal statutes, he is declining to file federal criminal charges against any law enforcement officers involved in the March 1, 2006, shooting in the rental car parking lot of the Homer Alaska Municipal Airport. Fugitive Jason Karlo Jacob Anderson died in the shootout, after badly injuring his two-year-old son by shooting the child in the face. The United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington was asked to review the Alaska State Troopers investigation for possible federal charges after the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alaska was recused from the case.

“There is no question that the events of March 1, 2006, were a tragedy,” said U.S. Attorney Sullivan, “But it was a tragedy of Jason Anderson’s own making. It was Jason Anderson who shot his son, fired at officers, and then killed himself. With 20/20 hindsight we can all see ways that law enforcement could have improved their apprehension plan. But none of us were in their shoes, making decisions minute to minute. And none of us know what the outcome might have been, had they allowed Jason Anderson to drive out of that parking lot. Anderson was a ticking time bomb, who could have injured or killed more innocent people in his efforts to avoid apprehension.”

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington reviewed more than two thousand documents generated by the investigation of the Alaska State Troopers and the Alaska Bureau of Investigation. These included the transcribed interviews of digital recordings of more than thirty witnesses. The Assistant United States Attorney assigned to the case evaluated all the facts in the case in light of the federal statutes available for prosecution. The United States Attorney’s Office has provided appropriate authorities with a 57 page memo detailing what happened in the Anderson investigation and shooting, and fully explores which federal statutes might be appropriate for prosecution. In the final analysis, the report concludes there is no reason to believe that any law enforcement officer acted willfully to violate the civil rights of Anderson or his son.

One critical question for federal prosecutors is whether the actions on March 1, 2006, constituted a violation of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable seizures. The case law in the 9th Circuit states clearly: “Our precedents do not forbid any consideration of events leading up to a shooting. But neither do they permit a plaintiff to establish a Fourth Amendment violation based merely on bad tactics that result in a deadly confrontation that could have been avoided.” In this case, a Fourth Amendment violation is not established and no federal criminal charges are warranted.

The Federal Privacy Act prohibits the U.S. Attorney’s Office from releasing the memo in its entirety. Today we are providing an Executive Summary that details the federal laws that apply to this case and the legal analysis. The U.S. Attorney’s Office provided the complete report and decision today to Alaska U.S. Attorney Nelson Cohen, the U.S. Marshal Service, the Alaska State Troopers, and the Alaska Office of the Attorney General. The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division reviewed the report prior to its release.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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