Officer from the Juneau Police Department investigate an officer involved shooting that occured early Sunday morning off of Cinema Drive, Dec. 29, 2019. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Officer from the Juneau Police Department investigate an officer involved shooting that occured early Sunday morning off of Cinema Drive, Dec. 29, 2019. (Michael S. Lockett | Juneau Empire)

Police release name of officer involved in fatal shooting

The case is still under investigation.

The Juneau Police Department has released the name of the officer involved in a fatal shooting Sunday.

Officer James Esbenshade shot and killed 34-year-old Kelly Michael Stephens as Stephens allegedly approached Esbenshade, screaming threats and swinging a chain, wrote JPD Public Safety Manager Erann Kalwara in a press release Friday afternoon.

Police say Stephens was wanted in connection for a 911 call about two hours earlier that evening where a man allegedly threatened a shopper outside the Super Bear IGA. Esbenshade investigated the call, then later another 911 call from the Chinook Apartments, where he encountered Stephens, Kalwara said.

Esbenshade has been a member of JPD since 2009, the police statement said.

Alaska’s Department of Law’s Office of Special Prosecutions is investigating the case to evaluate if the shooting was justified, Juneau District Attorney Angie Kemp said at an earlier press conference.

Per JPD policy, the names of officers involved in shootings are withheld from the public for at least 24 hours, and are placed on administrative leave.

Both JPD and Alaska State Troopers are still investigating the case.

This instance marked the second JPD officer involved shooting in 2019, with a nonfatal shooting taking place in August. The last fatal officer-involved shooting in Juneau was in 2007.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or

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