Alaska State Troopers released more information Monday evening about the investigation into the Saturday morning fatal shooting of Nikiski resident Casey G. Porter by a trooper, while members of Porter's family continued to question whether the shooting was necessary.
Porter, a 30-year-old field worker, was shot and killed by a trooper when, according to investigation reports, he accelerated his vehicle toward another trooper. Monday, troopers announced their investigation revealed that Porter was shot four times after being repeatedly instructed to stop his moving vehicle and place his hands in plain view.
According to trooper investigations, troopers Arthur "Jesse" J. Osborn and Joseph Whittom responded to the pullout at Kenai Keys Road at Mile 80 of the Sterling Highway at about 2 a.m. Saturday.
Porter's car was backed against a snow berm in the pullout. Whittom stopped near the exit of the pullout, partially blocking the exit, and Osborn pulled his Ford Expedition nose to nose within 10 feet of Porter's vehicle and turned on his headlights and flashing bar lights.
According to investigation reports, Porter put his car into gear and pulled around the driver's side of Osborn's Expedition and traveled approximately 40 feet before stopping. Osborn repeatedly told Porter to keep his hands visible, but Osborn said Porter continued to lower his hands out of view.
After Osborn sprayed pepper spray into the car, which hit the back of Porter's neck, the car stopped but started again and traveled about 40 feet, heading toward Whittom's patrol car. Whittom pulled his gun but didn't fire.
The report said Osborn, who had been moving alongside the vehicle, fired a .40-caliber GLOCK sidearm at the car five times, fearing Whittom was in danger. Four bullets hit Porter. Three entered Porter's left upper back and lodged in his right chest and a fourth entered his left shoulder and lodged in his neck. The fifth bullet lodged in the car's door post.
Porter's car continued to move and struck Whittom's patrol car, pushing it back about 3 feet and knocking it into Whittom, who was not injured.
Trooper spokesperson Greg Wilkinson said Porter was reaching toward the floor and in front of his seat and said his car traveled the full distance of the pullout. He said the troopers on the scene responded to the situation presented to them according to their training.
"When they make the decision to use deadly force, they shoot to stop," Wilkinson said.
He said there is a protocol, however, that troopers are trained to use when they make the decision to fire on a suspect. But he said circumstances can sometimes call for a different response.
"Troopers are trained to shoot three times when shooting a suspect," Wilkinson said. "Twice to the body and once to the head. He needed to make a decision that was going to stop the car, and shooting the tire might not have been as effective."
Wilkinson said he didn't know how far away from the car Osborn was when he fired. He said evidence was found inside the car, but he said he was unable to specify what that evidence was until the investigation is closed.
A cane also was found in Porter's car.
At the time of the incident, Porter was wanted on a warrant for failure to comply with conditions of release from original charges of second degree sexual abuse of a minor. Trooper investigations said neither trooper recognized Porter until after the incident.
Porter's aunt, Lori Wik, disagreed with this assertion, however, saying troopers recognized Porter because they had made several attempts to find him.
"I'm pretty confident that they knew at the time who they were dealing with when they were talking to him," Wik said. "I think they knew who he was because of the warrants, because of them coming to his house, and because of them pulling my husband (Brando Wik) over asking if he knew where Casey was.
"Because of that, I almost wonder if (Porter) didn't have a feeling that if he got out of the car they might shoot him."
Kristie Porter, Casey's mother, said troopers never informed her about her son's death. She said she overheard it while she was playing pool.
"I found out about this by rumor," she said. "I called them and asked them if it was true. They still have given me no details."
Kristie Porter also questioned the trooper's use of deadly force, saying her son was not violent and was not in a position to do much more than what he did.
"Casey's never been known to be violent," she said. "He's never been known to carry guns or play with guns."
She said an auto accident Casey had in August left his right leg completely paralyzed and the other susceptible to uncontrollable spasms. This made it difficult for him to drive the five-speed, standard-shift vehicle he was driving at the time of the incident. She also said he didn't have a valid driver's license.
"He pushed the clutch in with his cane and the gas pedal, he laid on," she said. "He couldn't feel the pressure. He had to use his hands to take his foot off the gas."
She said Porter had to physically lift his leg off the pedal and put it on the brake. She said he could have been trying to lift his leg when he appeared to be reaching on the floor of his car.
"They pepper-sprayed him. Casey couldn't see. He has to see his foot to take it off the gas pedal," she said.
Still, Wilkinson said that Osborn and Whittom responded appropriately to the situation.
"A car can be a deadly weapon, too," he said. "There's nothing that says that the trooper has to stand and get run over by a car."
He said the incident could have been avoided, however, had Porter complied with their orders.
"In reality, Mr. Porter had a decision to make about the situation," Wilkinson said. "In this case, had they run an ID check, they would have found out that he had an outstanding warrant. If he had been compliant, the worst that would've happened is he would have gone to jail."
Audio and video tapes from the incident are being reviewed by trooper investigators. The incident report will be forwarded to the Kenai District Attorney's office upon completion.
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