Family of Cody Eyre to hold memorial walks one year after he was shot and killed by law enforcement

Published: Dec. 21, 2018 at 2:37 PM AKST
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The fatal officer-involved shooting that separated Samantha Eyre-Harrison from her broth Cody happened in Fairbanks, Alaska, at a time when families are supposed to come together.

"This has honestly been the worst year of my life," Eyre-Harrison said, "because it started off with his death on Christmas Eve. My entire family was with him in the trauma room when he passed."

So, on the one year anniversary of his death, friends, family and strangers alike will remember Cody by walking in his honor.

On December 24, 2017, at around 6:30 p.m., someone contacted emergency responders reporting their friend - Cody Eyre - was broadcasting live on Facebook, threatening suicide. Cody's mother called 911 as well, and officers arrived to find him continuing with threats, brandishing a firearm, and heading toward a residential area.

"He wouldn't respond in any meaningful way to what officers were trying to talk to him about," said Eric Jewkes, Chief of the Fairbanks Police Department, during a press conference in October.

More that 40 rounds were fired in two volleys by five Fairbanks police officers and Alaska State Troopers, according to the Department of Law.

Then, in October of 2018, an 11-minute video of the incident was released to the public.

"A detailed release of the video," said one of the troopers at the October press conference, "to show the members of the public why our officers had to use deadly force."

The Office of Special Prosecutions determined both police and Troopers were justified in shooting and killing Cody. The family, though, doesn't believe they have all the information, adding that none of his belongings had yet been returned to them.

"We really didn't have any answers," Eyre-Harrison said, "and we still don't have a ton of answers."

As the family seeks more details in Cody's death and goes ahead with a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court, they're also pushing for a movement of their own.

"This Christmas Eve is going to be the very first #KeepWalkingWithCody walk," Eyre-Harrison said, "and we're super excited about it. My sisters, my mom and I - we're going to start at our family's home and actually going to retrace the exact walk that Cody did.

"His final walk before he passed," she said. "It's about 4 miles long. We'll retrace that and end at his memorial site."

Harrison-Eyre said they're also working on legislation that would require more mental health training for law enforcement, so that officers are better equipped to help people dealing with mental crises.

The public can join on the last mile of the walk, and there will be a candlelight vigil in Cody's honor, happening from 6 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 24.

"When you lose a loved one," Eyre-Harrison said, "you also lose traditions you had with them during the holiday season. So to start a new tradition, that's kind of what these protest walks are. We're starting this new tradition this Christmas Eve, walking for Cody.

"We'd love to have everyone come," she added.

A protest walk is set for the same date and time on the steps of the Capitol in Juneau, to be run by Eyre-Harrison's grandmother.

"We definitely notice his absence from our family dynamic, in each one of our daily, individual lives," Eyre-Harrison said. "This is a space for people to come together and celebrate Cody and be together."

Meanwhile, AST spokesperson Megan Peters said the Department of Public Safety has nothing further to provide regarding Cody's case, citing the October press conference and a sit-down with next of kin to discuss investigation findings.

Eyre-Harrison said walkers in Fairbanks will meet in the Trax parking lot for the event. Then, she said, there will be a Christmas Eve celebration from 7 to 9:30, with speakers, music, and other festive activities to follow.