The Bethel police officer who shot and killed a man in October was found to be justified in his actions, according to a report released this week by the Alaska Bureau of Investigation. The conclusion of the investigation into the shooting death of 24-year-old Sam Alexie Jr. has spurred the Bethel Police Department to release the name of the shooting officer. It is Andrew Reid, who is still with the department.
He had only been on the force for three months at the time of the shooting although he had been an officer in Massachusetts for four years prior to that.
The Bethel police have been under some public scrutiny for not releasing the officer’s name earlier.
Bethel police Chief Larry Elarton says they know the report took a long time but it had to go through the Alaska Bureau of Investigation and the Attorney General’s office.
“I know that helped keep the wound open a little bit for everybody and didn’t allow closure, but hopefully we can address it and we’re here to answer any questions if anybody has any,” Elarton said.
The Bethel Police Department does not have a policy requiring them to release an officer’s name after a shooting.
The shooting happened on the night of October 2. Two 911 calls came into the police station; the first one at 9:39 p.m. The caller tells police that Alexie was intoxicated and messing up the house. The dispatcher tells the caller that police were coming over. Two minutes later the caller calls back.
At first, the caller says Alexie is threatening her with knives but the situation quickly escalates and the caller says Alexie has a gun. The caller is heard screaming and crying saying that he is pointing a gun at another person there. Three people were in the house with Sam Alexie at the time. Although he was intoxicated, they were not.
Two officers responded to the scene. The incident was documented by an audio recorder worn by Officer Reid. When the officers arrived, one of the victims had already made it outside of the house. As the officers reached the arctic entry way, two others started coming out of the house. One officer shields them and helped them away from the scene.
Meanwhile, Sam Alexie Jr. was approaching the door holding a gun. Officer Reid, yells, “Get on the ground, get on the ground, put the gun down,” and then shoots Alexie one time. Instead of getting on the ground, Alexie pointed the gun at the officer.
Elarton says the officers followed protocol. He says if Alexie was alone inside, the officers would have stayed outside.
“Basically, like any active shooter situation, the same as we train for schools, our main thought is to make sure any hostages are safe,” said Elarton. “We’ll only engage a threat if there’s active danger to the hostages.”
Officers are not trained shoot to injure a person, only to kill.
“The officer had no choice at that point but to fire,” said Elarton.
The ABI’s investigation agrees that deadly force was justified. The investigation included several witnesses. They contacted 21 people in all.
Alexie’s family did not immediately return calls for comment.