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No charges filed against APD officers in fatal shootings of corrections officer, unarmed man

A view of the Anchorage Police Department in Downtown Anchorage, Alaska. December 2020.
A view of the Anchorage Police Department in Downtown Anchorage, Alaska. December 2020.(KTU)
Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 7:30 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Content warning: This article contains details of shootings that some readers might find disturbing.

Anchorage Police Department officers involved in two fatal shootings last year will not face charges after a review by the Alaska Department of Law’s Office of Special Prosecutions.

Oct. 22, 2020

According to a letter sent by the Office of Special Prosecutions, the five officers involved in a fatal shooting on Oct. 22, 2020, acted in self-defense.

Filing criminal charges against Sgt. Francis Stanfield and officers Mischa Carlson, Theron Peplow, Mitchel Veenstra and Marcos Weinrick would be inappropriate, the letter states.

According to a summary provided in the letter, a 911 call around 5:47 a.m. prompted APD officers to respond to Keith Beecroft’s home on Toakoana Drive in Eagle River. The caller indicated Beecroft was intoxicated and throwing things.

When officers arrived, Beecroft, who worked for the Department of Corrections as an armed prisoner transport officer, did not wish to speak to officers, the summary states. He ended up barricaded in his home, armed and drinking what appeared to be alcoholic drinks.

SWAT officers were called to the scene, and according to the letter, a negotiator tried to convince Beecroft to exit the home peacefully.

“Beecroft sporadically spoke with a negotiator and expressed thoughts of hopelessness. He also indicated that he was going to force the police to shoot him. Efforts to move Beecroft off of these thoughts were unfruitful or unsuccessful. Ultimately, after some time talking with the negotiator, Beecroft stated that he would take his ballistic vest off in order to make it easier for the police to shoot him,” the letter states.

An officer reportedly shot a “less lethal” round at Beecroft that hit him in the torso but did not have much of an effect on him.

“When Beecroft appeared to take a ‘bladed stance’ and raise the shotgun towards Sgt. Stanfield and the other officers, Beecroft was fired upon by police,” the report states.

Beecroft died at the scene.

The OSP review of the case found that it was reasonable for officers to believe Beecroft was an immediate danger to officers and members of the public and that their use of deadly force was justified.

Dec. 20, 2020

The OSP investigation into the fatal shooting of an unarmed man on Dec. 20, 2020, determined APD officers Timothy Dorsey, Colin Neace, Jose Maldonado and Jacob Raygor were justified in using deadly force in the death of William Riley-Jennings.

A review of the case sent to Doll states APD received a 911 call from an individual stating someone stole his Chevy Tahoe and he had spotted his stolen vehicle and was following it. As the man spoke to dispatchers and followed the driver of his stolen vehicle, he reported the driver of the stolen vehicle tried to ram into the vehicle he was driving.

Just after midnight, the Tahoe owner and officers located the vehicle. It was abandoned at the edge of an apartment complex parking lot near Reka Drive and Pine Street, according to the report.

Following footprints in the snow leading away from the vehicle and through the woods, officers used a police canine named Bravo to track the vehicle theft suspect. Bravo located Riley-Jennings hiding in some trees and bit him on the lower leg, according to the review.

All four of the officers described hearing Riley-Jennings yell that he had a gun, and said as he raised his arm toward officers, they fired their weapons, killing him.

The investigation later revealed Riley-Jennings was not armed.

“Based upon Mr. Riley-Jennings’s words and actions, it was reasonable for all four officers to believe that he was armed … Because the officers’ subjective belief that deadly force was necessary to defend themselves and their fellow officers was also objectively reasonable under the circumstances, their use of deadly force was legally justified,” the letter states.

The summary of the facts of the case in the document is based on written reports, State Medical Examiner’s Office findings, audio-recorded interviews, a 911 call recording and drone images, according to the letter.

The letter does not mention the review of dash camera footage and body camera footage from the incident is not available, because APD officers are not equipped with body cameras.

According to an APD spokesperson, internal affairs investigations into both of the fatal officer-involved shootings are still ongoing.

Resources: If you are considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or Stop Suicide Alaska at 1-877-266-HELP.

Editors note: This story has been updated to reflect a correction that the letter was sent by the Office of Special Prosecutions, not by APD Chief Justin Doll.

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