Fairbanks police say shooting of soldier justified

Posted: Thursday, August 01, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Fairbanks Police Chief James Welch says a preliminary police investigation indicates one of his officers was justified in fatally shooting a Fort Wainwright soldier, after a high-speed chase early Saturday.

Officer Stewart Lewis, 27, shot Michael S. Eutenier, 19, to protect himself when Eutenier accelerated quickly toward him in his truck, Welch said at a news conference Wednesday.

Welch said he didn't know if Eutenier was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The shooting occurred after a high-speed chase. A woman told police that Eutenier and his friend, Derrick Lawhorn, 22, were following her as she drove home from a picnic. She said Eutenier repeatedly steered his truck toward her car, trying to run her off the road.

When she reached Badger Road, she called police from her cell phone. Sgt. Eric Jewkes spotted the woman's vehicle and the red truck carrying the men coming off the Richardson Highway exit ramp onto the Mitchell Expressway.

Jewkes and other officers pursued Eutenier before they eventually cornered him in a parking lot. Welch said both uniformed officers got out of their marked patrol cars after parking behind Eutenier's truck but that Eutenier rammed the rear end of his truck into the front end of the patrol cars.

Eutenier then turned his vehicle toward Lewis, who was shouting orders at Eutenier. Lewis fired three rounds, Welch said. Eutenier was taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital to be treated for a head wound and was later transported to Alaska Regional hospital in Anchorage, where he died.

Eutenier, of Kelseyville, Calif., was an infantryman with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment at Fort Wainwright. He had been at Fort Wainwright for about a year and had joined the Army in April 2001.

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