Law Dept. clears trooper in fatal shooting

ANCHORAGE — An Alaska State Trooper was justified in using deadly force during a struggle with an intoxicated driver who had turned the officer’s stun gun on him, the Attorney General’s Office has concluded.

No criminal charges will be filed against Trooper John King in the shooting death of Jon Ployhar, 49, the Office of Special Prosecutions said in a statement released Friday by troopers.

The legal review was sent to troopers Jan. 11 by Robert Henderson, supervising assistant attorney general for the Office of Special Prosecutions. Megan Peters, spokeswoman for the troopers, said her agency had received indications that the review had not been circulated and decided to announce it Friday.

According to the review, Trooper King at 11:20 p.m. Oct. 24, while on routine patrol, spotted a 1983 Lincoln Continental pull onto the Sterling Highway at high speed near Mile 82. The left brake light was broken.

When the car turned off the highway without signaling, King activated his emergency lights, and later his siren, and notified dispatchers of an eluding car.

Ployhar drove until he reached the driveway of a home, got out of the car and ran. King, investigators said, stopped, ordered Ployhar to quit running and watched him fling something into woods. Investigators recovered his car keys at the spot.

King caught up to Ployhar and tried to arrest him. When Ployhar resisted, King fired the electrodes of his stun gun, designed to interrupt muscle control, which had no effect. With the electrodes of the stun gun deployed, King tried to use the stun gun’s “drive-stunning” mode, which inflicts pain. That also proved ineffective, Henderson said.

The fight continued, Henderson said, with Ployhar sticking his hand in King’s mouth and knocking out a tooth.

The men fell to the ground and struggled for control of the stun gun. Ployhar, Henderson said, ignored commands to stop fighting. Ployhar gained control of the stun gun, and while straddling King, used it on the trooper, first on his forearm and then his neck.

“At that point, Trooper King believed Mr. Ployhar intended to seriously hurt or kill him,” Henderson wrote.

King drew his gun and fired one shot that struck Ployhar in the chest and killed him nearly instantly.

King’s audio recorder and recovered evidence corroborated King’s account of the incident, Henderson said. An autopsy indicated Ployhar was intoxicated.

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