Breaking: Police release video from December shooting

Breaking: Police release video from December shooting

Multiple videos and photos shared.

Editor’s note: This article includes a summation of a video of an officer-involved shooting. It includes both profane language and descriptions of violence.

The Juneau Police Department released video of a December officer-involved shooting ending in the death of a Juneau resident a day after the family of the deceased filed a lawsuit against JPD and the city.

The video, released shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday in a news release, available here shows the circumstances of the shooting of Kelly Michael Stephens, 43, on Cinema Drive on Dec. 29, 2019. The release includes video from both the vehicle and Officer James Esbenshade’s body-worn camera. There is also a photo of the leash Stephens had in his possession, which appears to be a dog leash attached via carabiner to a chain.

The vehicle camera shows Stephens swinging the object but has no audio. Stephens exits the car camera’s field of view before the shot is fired.

The body-cam footage is extremely poorly lit, but includes audio. Esbenshade is shown for five minutes before the shooting.

Esbenshade receives a report of a shot fired in the vicinity of Cinema Drive and drives to the area. Footage shows him driving to the area, where several other figures can be seen in the poor light.

Esbenshade retrieves a service rifle from the trunk of his vehicle, chambers a round and proceeds toward the disturbance. “What’s going on?” Esbenshade says several times. Stephens can be heard yelling “F— you.”

Esbenshade yells “stop right there” and “hold it” at Stephens repeatedly, telling Stephens to show his hands while physically backing away from Stephens.

Stephens says “f—ing shoot me” several times before yelling “I will kill you.”

Esbenshade makes another attempt to tell Stephens to stop before firing a single round and calling in the shooting. Stephens can be seen groaning and screaming on the ground, saying “kill me” as someone else, presumably another officer, asks Esbenshade if Stephens had any weapons.

“He had a chain and he was swinging it,” Esbenshade replies.

The video ends shortly afterward. From exiting the vehicle to the round being fired, roughly 40 seconds pass.

A representative for the Stephens family’s legal team did not immediately respond to a message or call seeking comment.

This is a breaking news story and more data will be added as it becomes available.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757.621.1197 or

More in News

Even as coronavirus numbers are going down and vaccines are being distributed, pandemic-related facilities like the testing site at Juneau International Airport, seen here in this Oct. 12 file photo, are scheduled to remain for some time, according to city health officials. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file)
Vaccines are coming, but pandemic facilities will remain

Testing sites and other COVID-19 operations will continue, officials say, but infections are trending down.

After violent protesters loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol today, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, left, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., join other senators as they return to the House chamber to continue the joint session of the House and Senate and count the Electoral College votes cast in November's election, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Murkowski on impeachment: ‘I will listen carefully’ to both sides

As for timing, the senator said, “our priority this week must be to ensure safety in Washington, D.C.”

Juneau City Hall. The City and Borough of Juneau has distributed nearly $5 million in household and individual assistance grants since October. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
All housing and most personal assistance grants processed

About $5 million in aid is flowing to households and individuals in Juneau.

A child plays at Capital School Park. The park is in line for a remodel that will fix the crumbling retaining wall, visible in the background. (Dana Zigmund / Juneau Empire)
A new life is in store for Capital School Park

Public input is helping craft a vision for the park’s voter-approved facelift.

Expected heavy snow and high winds Thursday evening prompted Alaska’s Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to issue a warning of increased avalanche hazard along Thane Road. (File photo)
Avalanche risk increasing along Thane Road

Be careful and plan for the possibility of an extended road closure.

White House, tribes joined to deliver Alaska Native vaccines

The initiative has treated Indigenous tribes as sovereign governments and set aside special vaccine shipments.

This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. On Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, the top U.S. public health agency said that coronavirus can spread greater distances through the air than 6 feet, particularly in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials continued to say such spread is uncommon, and current social distancing guidelines still make sense. (NIAID-RML via AP)
COVID at a glance for Friday, Jan. 8

The most recent state and local numbers.

Federal report says pandemic hit seafood industry hard

Catch brought to the docks fell 29% over the course of the first seven months of the year.

The Juneau Police Department and other law enforcement agencies say they are prepared for the possibility of political violence at the Capitol building on the day of the presidential inauguration. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
No known threats of violence, but police say they’re prepared

“The Juneau Police Department and our partners have not received any specific threats,” the agency said.

Most Read