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

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

Juneau high school seniors Edward Hu of Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé (left), Elizabeth Djajalie of Thunder Mountain High School (center) and Kenyon Jordan of Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi Alternative High School. (Photos of Hu and Jordan by Juneau Empire staff, photo of Djajalie by Victor Djajalie)
Senior Spotlight 2024: Three top students take very different paths to graduation stage

Ceremonies for Juneau’s three high schools take place Sunday.

The entrance road to Bartlett Regional Hospital. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital looking at eliminating or trimming six ‘non-core’ programs to stabilize finances

Rainforest Recovery Center, autism therapy, crisis stabilization, hospice among programs targeted.

A king salmon. (Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Biden administration advances bid to list Gulf of Alaska king salmon as endangered or threatened

Experts say request could restrict activity affecting river habitats such as road, home construction

Mayor Beth Weldon (left), Deputy Mayor Michelle Bonnet Hale and Juneau Assembly member Paul Kelly discussion proposals for next year’s mill rate during an Assembly Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday night. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Assembly members support lower 10.04 mill rate ahead of final vote on next year’s CBJ budget

Initial proposal called for raising current rate of 10.16 mills to 10.32 mills.

Dave Scanlan, general manager of Eaglecrest Ski Area, speaks to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Finance Committee on April 13, 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Dave Scanlan forced out as Eaglecrest’s general manager, says decision ‘came as a complete shock to me’

Resort’s leader for past 7 years says board seeking a “more office-process, paper-oriented” manager.

The entrance to the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.’s Anchorage office is seen on Aug. 11, 2023. The state-owned AGDC is pushing for a massive project that would ship natural gas south from the North Slope, liquefy it and send it on tankers from Cook Inlet to Asian markets. The AGDC proposal is among many that have been raised since the 1970s to try commercialize the North Slope’s stranded natural gas. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Eight young Alaskans sue to block proposed trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline

Plaintiffs cite climate change that harms their access to fish, wildlife and natural resources.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, May 21, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read