Family calls for answers in deadly shooting of Copper Center man

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Alaska State Troopers on Monday identified the trooper who fatally shot a man in Copper River Friday morning as Kamau Leigh, a six-year AST veteran.

Troopers say Leigh was responding to reports that Hash had assaulted a family member, and the family had barricaded themselves in their apartment to hide from him.

Leigh made contact with Hash outside the building at around 3:15 a.m. and during the encounter fired his service weapon at Hash, who later died of his injuries at the hospital. Leigh was outside his vehicle when he opened fire.

“Hash had a container of incapacitating, flammable liquid in his hand, and advanced toward Trooper Leigh in close proximity to his service vehicle prior to the Trooper discharging his service weapon,” troopers wrote in an updated dispatch report Monday.

AST says the investigation has yet to determine exactly what the flammable liquid in the container was. Delice Calcot, a woman claiming to be a close friend of Hash’s mother, told Channel 2 by phone Monday that she thinks the liquid Hash was holding was lighter fluid from a barbecue that had happened next door that day.

Hash’s family has since raised concerns about the incident. Hash’s daughters Kiana and Modawn were not in Copper Center when the shooting happened, but spoke with Channel 2 on behalf of the family Sunday afternoon. They say Hash had recently started drinking heavily and was acting belligerent that night, but they feel the use of deadly force was unjustified.

"There were neighbors awake and they said they didn't even hear any commands for him to get down or any sort of resolution, a tazer or pepper spray or anything it was immediate gunshots," said daughter Kiana Pete.

"He was out of line, but it didn't need to be this way. He was unarmed. There's no way he needed to be shot," said daughter Modawn Lafromboise.

The family has also asked to review Trooper Leigh’s body camera footage, but the Department of Public Safety does not provide troopers with body cameras because it would require additional staff, training, equipment and facilities to store the servers, which AST can’t afford.

“AST does not provide body cameras for Troopers; doing so would require an incredibly significant expenditure of funds that the Department does not have considering the budget cuts both here and across state government over the last several years.” said spokesperson Jonathon Taylor. “At this time, AST is focusing on using its available budget to increase Trooper recruitment and retention, which is a top priority.”

When asked if there was dash camera footage of the incident from Trooper Leigh’s patrol car, Taylor said he couldn’t speak specifically to this investigation but said dashcam footage is typically reviewed, “in conjunction with all other evidence as part of the investigatory process.”

The investigation is being handled by the Alaska Bureau of Investigation. The results will be reviewed by the Office of Special Prosecutions to determine if the use of lethal force was justified. It’s uncertain how long the investigation could take.

“The process is designed to ensure that the inquiry is done correctly the first time while protecting the due process rights of all individuals involved in the incident. Integrity is one of the core values of the Alaska State Troopers, and rushing through an investigation is not something the organization does or ever will do,” Taylor said.

Trooper Leigh was one of five law enforcement officers involved in another fatal shootout in 2015, according to a report from the Fairbanks Daily News Miner. In that incident, the suspect, Vincent Perdue, drove away from police attempting to pull him over for a traffic stop. In the chase that followed, Perdue fired a handgun at officers from his vehicle before crashing into a ditch. The five officers then returned fire, killing Perdue.

READ MORE: Troopers shoot, kill man in Alaska village after alleged assault



 
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