No criminal charges filed in North Slope police shooting

BARROW — The Alaska attorney general’s office will not file criminal charges against a police officer who fatally shot a Barrow man.

The state has found North Slope Police Sgt. James Michels justified in the shooting of 36-year-old Barrow volunteer fire chief Vincent Nageak III in February, KTUU-TV reported.

Nageak was intoxicated and threatening Michels and Officer Anthony Fonua with a shotgun at the time of the shooting, according to a May 19 report by Robert Henderson, supervising assistant attorney general. An autopsy determined Nageak’s blood alcohol level was 0.172 at that time.

“Sgt. Michels was legally justified in using deadly force to stop Mr. Nageak. Equally, Sgt. Michels was legally justified in using deadly force to defend Officer Fonua,” Henderson concluded.

According to the report, the incident occurred after officers were called to Nageak’s home Feb. 10 about a domestic disturbance. Nageak’s wife and children inside were evacuated before Nageak reportedly threatened to shoot and racked his shotgun, meaning he cycled a round through the gun’s firing chamber.

Nageak reportedly said “get ready to shoot” before exiting a room. Michels fired four rounds, striking Nageak with three.

Michels told investigators he feared for Fonua, who was directly in the line of fire.

Nageak’s father, Roy Nageak, said his family is working to forgive Michels for the shooting.

“We’re grieving. We trying to decide how to deal with it,” he said. “What is done is done. Nothing will bring our son back.”

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