Shane Tasi’s friends say he was known in Mountain View's Samoan community as someone who loved music and liked to make people laugh. But now they say he’ll be remembered for how his life came to a tragic end at only 26 years of age.
On Monday, two days after a police officer shot Tasi outside his apartment on North Bunn Street, strands of silk flowers and other mementos draped a fence near the spot where he fell to the ground. The blood stains on the sidewalk and the grass are still fresh; so is the shock and grief.
“He would always say, ‘Good Morning. Hey. How are you doing?’” said Joe Penya, a next door neighbor who is from the Dominican Republic. Penya said he would never have to ask for help, that before he knew it, Tasi would say, “‘Would you like me to hold the door for you, so you can take the groceries in? Do you need help with your baby? ’”
Penya was not home over the weekend and says he can’t believe Tasi is gone, that he will no longer hear the sounds of radio music coming from his apartment, or, see him playing with his two children in the driveway.
Friends of Tasi say his wife is now pregnant with a third child.
They are also puzzled and angry about what happened.
Police say they were called to North Bunn Street around 9:30 Saturday night, after reports that Tasi was wielding a stick and screaming at drivers passing by. One caller told a police dispatcher Tasi had attacked a dog.
When police responded, Tasi was still carrying what police describe as a baton, about three-feet long and about as thick as a broom handle.
Lt. Dave Parker says more than one witness saw police try to get Tasi to give up the baton.
“Several times the officers asked him, told him, ordered him -- to put that down, yet the man aggressively approached the officer with his baton, and he refused to comply,” said Parker.”
That’s when one of the officers shot Tasi, who died a short while later at the hospital.
“They could have at least used the tazer or mace. Not the gun,” says Laura Martin, a Yup’ik Eskimo, who says she saw Tasi fall to the ground from across the street.
One reason the officer didn’t use a taser: he didn’t have one.
The Anchorage Police Department has 380 officers, but only about 140 to 150 are equipped with tasers.
“The department is moving to a position where we’ll have tasers available to all our officers, but we’re not there yet,” said Parker.
38 new tasers are included in the coming fiscal year’s budget. Once those are bought, there would be enough stun guns to equip almost half the force. But that doesn’t mean these weapons would assigned to officers right away.
“It’s not something you can just hand out,” said Parker. “There’s also training that has to take place. Everyone who carries a taser has to be tased.”
So would a taser have made a difference Saturday night?
“The taser is a good thing to use in those kind of circumstances, if you have one immediately available,” said Parker, who says supervisors are equipped with them, but did not arrive in time to intervene.
Parker says the lack of a taser is of the things the investigation will look into.