Family of Chugiak man shot by police speaks out

Monday, October 30, 2017 - 14:31

The family of a 41-year-old Chugiak man shot and killed during a traffic stop in Seward is speaking out about an investigation they say has shed little light on what happened to Micah McComas in a Safeway parking lot in the early morning hours of Sunday, Oct. 1.

“Right now we are just searching for the truth,” said Krista Smith, who appeared at a press conference with her husband, Scott Smith, on Thursday morning in Anchorage.

The couple told reporters they have been frustrated with a lack of clear information from law enforcement, which has cited the ongoing nature of the investigation as why more information hasn’t been released. Among the information the Smiths seek: body camera footage of the incident, as well as a specific timeline of events that led to McComas being shot by officer Matthew “Eddie” Armstrong.

The Alaska State Troopers have released few details. According to an online report released by the agency, Armstrong stopped McComas at around 1:05 a.m. for speeding.

“The traffic stop turned into a drug investigation,” troopers wrote. “McComas was handcuffed and placed in the back of Officer Armstrong’s vehicle.”

Somehow, troopers say, McComas got into the front seat of the police car and tried to drive off.

“Officer Armstrong attempted to stop McComas. Ultimately, Officer Armstrong discharged his firearm and McComas sustained fatal gunshot wounds,” troopers wrote.

The family isn’t satisfied with that narrative, and wants to know more about the specifics of the shooting. In addition to calling a press conference, they have created a website (www.nottakingakneetakingastand.com) and sent a 1,500-word letter to the “Seward City News” website detailing their concerns about the investigation.

In both the letter and press conference, the family emphasized they’re not against the police and don’t have reason at this point to believe the shooting was unjustified.

“If Micah caused the officer to fear for his life or the life of others, then Micah died with the consequences, as we have to live with them,” the Smiths wrote in their letter. “If Micah did not, then our intent is to ensure that those responsible and those who have been aided and abetted will reap the consequences. At this point, we have no ill-will towards anyone, we SIMPLY want to know what happened.”

When questioned about her brother’s history with drugs, Smith said she lives in South Carolina, but didn’t think drugs were a significant problem for her brother.

“I don’t believe he was in a substantial amount of trouble over drugs from what I understand,” she said.

Smith said she can live with the consequences if her brother’s shooting turned out to be justified. She just wants to know the full story.

“We don’t want to point fingers, we just want answers,” she said.

McComas had a lengthy record of convictions in Alaska. At the time of his death, he was facing a charge of being a felon in possession of a weapon for an incident that happened in Janurary. According to the Anchorage Police Department, McComas was a passenger in a vehicle found stuck in a snowbank in Eagle River in the early morning hours of Jan. 10. During a search, McComas was found to have a handgun, police said.

Krista Smith addressed the incident during the Thursday press conference, saying her brother “was not a violent person,” and had told her he carried the gun for protection.

“He was scared,” she said.

Smith urged the public to wait to get all the facts before rushing to judgment about her brother.

“There’s always another side to the story,” she said.

Scott Smith said the couple have found themselves unexpectedly in the position of speaking out about police shootings.

“We never envisioned this is something that would happen to us,” he said.

In a Thursday afternoon email, a troopers spokeswoman said any the agency had no futher details about the investigation into the case, which will be reviewed by the state’s Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals (OSPA).

“At this point in time, AST is not releasing further details,” wrote spokeswoman Megan Peters. “It is an active and ongoing investigation. After we are done with our investigation and report, the case will be turned over to OSPA for review and determination regarding justification of use of deadly force. I do not anticipate additional information regarding the case to come out until after OSPA makes its determination.”

Contact Star editor Matt Tunseth at editor@alaskastar.com

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