Deputy Attorney General Richard Svobodny would not comment on specifics related to Anchorage Patrol Officer Boaz Gionson drawing his service weapon and fatally shooting Shane Tasi when APD officials say Tasi aggressively approached him with a stick.
"As soon as the police department knows there’s an officer involved shooting, they call officers to commence that investigation," Svobodny says. "The second call goes to the head of the special prosecutions section of the Department of Law."
Svobodny says while there is not a statute requiring special prosecutors to investigate officer- involved shootings, any time there is one involving an APD officer the police department will request an independent state investigation.
The process is important because Svobodny says it allows the public to know someone not immediately involved with the case is in charge of the investigation, while also allowing for a statewide, uniform approach.
"The idea is that there be a place for police departments to have an independent review of their investigation to determine from a matter of criminal law whether there should be a criminal charge filed," Svobodny says.
The special prosecution division, Svobodny says, includes the law department’s most experienced staff members, including current office head Clint Campion, former head Jay Fayette, and former police officer Greg Olson. Svobodny would not comment which official is handling the Tasi investigation.
In addition to officer-involved shootings, OSPA manages specialized cases, including environmental crimes, child support, permanent fund dividend fraud, and commercial fish and game cases.
Generally, Svobodny says, officer-involved shooting investigations are rapidly handled because of high public interest, and, in most cases, once all reports are received a report is usually generated within a week.
However, investigations can take much longer. Svobodny says analyzing the 2006 Homer Airport officer-involved shootout between a fugitive and members of the Homer Police Department and U.S. Marshals Service took about one year.
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