D.A. says trooper justified in shooting disabled man

Posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) A state trooper was justified when he shot and killed a disabled man Jan. 4 during an encounter at a Sterling Highway pullout, the Kenai district attorney has determined.

Under state law, an individual can use deadly force if he believes his life or that of another person is endangered, or to prevent serious physical injury. Trooper Arthur Jesse Osborn, 26, feared that Casey Porter, 30, was going to injure another officer with his car, troopers have said.

I have come to the conclusion that no criminal prosecution should be brought against trooper Jesse Osborn as a result of this incident and, further, that it was justified under use of force statutes,'' District Attorney Dwayne McConnell wrote in a brief letter faxed Monday to Alaska State Troopers.

Troopers subsequently announced the decision Tuesday in a three-paragraph press release. McConnell, trooper officials and Department of Public Safety officials declined to discuss the case because of a pending civil lawsuit.

Attorney Bill Azar, who has filed suit over the shooting on behalf of two women Porter had children with, said the finding by the district attorney was expected.

It's like the fox watching the chicken,'' Azar said.

Troopers earlier gave this account of the shooting:

A state Department of Transportation employee reported a suspicious vehicle in the pullout on Kenai Keys Road around 1:49 a.m. Porter had been parked there more than two hours, and the interior lights in his Mazda were flashing off and on.

Osborn and trooper Joseph Whittom checked out the car. Osborn pulled up nose to nose within 10 feet of the Mazda and turned on his flashing lights. Whittom parked his car parallel to the road, blocking part of the way out. He stood on the far side of his car.

Porter was wanted on a warrant in a sexual abuse case, which troopers did not know that at the time. Porter's car started moving forward. Osborn got out and ordered Porter to stop, to get out of his car and show his hands. Porter did stop, but didn't get out and kept his hands out of view.

He had been injured in a car crash a few months before and used a cane, his family has said.

Osborn pepper-sprayed Porter.

Porter resumed the forward momentum of the Mazda in the direction of trooper Whittom,'' troopers said at the time.

Osborn yelled at Porter to stop. When the car kept moving, he fired five times. Four bullets hit Porter. His car continued to roll forward and struck Whittom's patrol car, pushing it into the trooper, who wasn't hurt.

After the shooting, Osborn requested a transfer and was moved to the Palmer post.

In February, Osborn was reassigned to Department of Public Safety headquarters in Anchorage because of a series of factors, including the shooting investigation, personal problems, public concerns and extraordinary press coverage.

Osborn is separated from his wife, who has obtained a protective order to keep him away. A hearing on that is set for April.

Osborn did not respond to interview requests from the Anchorage Daily News.

The civil lawsuit has been put on hold until a judge can determine who should represent Porter's estate, said Azar, who filed the suit in January.

The determination will not affect the civil suit because of different standards of proof in civil court, he said.

McConnell, who has been a prosecutor for 20 years, said he had never before reviewed an officer-involved shooting. He went to the shooting scene the night it happened and reviewed audio and video tapes along with the entire written report, he said.

The shooting was investigated by troopers from the Criminal Investigation Bureau.



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