Anchorage, Alaska—With two deadly officer-involved shootings just a little more than two weeks apart, some in the community are questioning the actions of Anchorage police and organizing a rally this Saturday.
The first deadly officer-involved shooting of the year happened on June 9th, when officer Boaz Gionson fired three shots at 26 year-old Shane Tasi, as Tasi approached him swinging a broken broom handle. The second shooting occurred on Sunday, when 59 year-old Harry Smith was shot and killed by two officers after pointing a BB gun at police. The air gun was a "look-alike" of a .40 caliber pistol, according to APD.
"Our first priority is the preservation of innocent life. Second priority would be the preservation of officers' lives and the third priority would be the preservation of the subject's life that we're dealing with, who are acting out and creating the problem," Parker says.
According to police, there were two deadly APD officer-involved shootings in 2010, one in 2011 and two so far this year.
"There are times when we have people who are a threat, not only to themselves but to other people as well and in that kind of a situation, we're forced to take action and stronger action than we would if they were only a threat to themselves," Parker says.
In response to the recent deaths, members of the Polynesian community are organizing a rally to call for APD's "awareness for better protocols on shooting to disarm versus shooting to kill."
"We're just seeing more of these cases happening more than we expect. And that's why we're trying to raise awareness that it's not okay. We need answers and we need some action from the police officers," says Miriama Aumavae, an organizer and executive director of the Polynesian Community Center.
She says concerned citizens are invited to join in sharing the message.
"We want a combined effort on implementing better programs or better protocols on dealing with these cases," says Aumavae.
The rally will start at noon on Saturday at Far North Bicentennial Park in Anchorage.