ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A state review has determined that two Anchorage police officers were legally justified in fatally shooting a man after responding to a robbery report at a Home Depot.
An investigation by the Office of Special Prosecutions cleared the officers in the July 12 death of 24-year-old Benjamin Zeckovic.
Police had responded that night to reports from store employees of a man stealing several hatchets and axes, KTUU-TV reported (http://bit.ly/2bpxJBv).
Zeckovic threw a hatchet at the first patrol car to arrive and then ran toward police armed with a hatchet in each hand, the report said. Police had yelled at Zeckovic to stop as the man covered 75 feet in under 8 seconds.
The review found that Officer Cole Grigg shot Zeckovic in the arm, and the suspect fell to the ground before standing back up and continuing toward police. Officer Bart Filipowicz then shot Zeckovic in the head, killing him.
Police later learned that Zeckovic had dropped the hatchets at some point but that he also had a knife blade in his waistband, the review found.
“Filipowicz believed that Zeckovic was still armed with a weapon (which turned out to be a knife blade) even after Officer Grigg shot his weapon,” the report says.
Filipowicz told investigators that he thought the first gunshot, fired by Grigg, had missed Zeckovic entirely.
Police also did know the man’s identity at the time, or that Zeckovic had called 911 days earlier and “made several death threats toward dispatch and law enforcement,” according to the report. He was wanted on an arrest warrant for assault, theft of a firearm and other charges.
The descriptions of the incident were based on surveillance video from police cars at the scene and interviews with witnesses, authorities said.
Information from: KTUU-TV, http://www.ktuu.com