Juneau police officers hunkered down next to the berm visible between homes, said an eyewitness, before an officer fired his weapon three times and striking two trailers, mistakenly believing a man having a mental health crisis had a gun on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Juneau police officers hunkered down next to the berm visible between homes, said an eyewitness, before an officer fired his weapon three times and striking two trailers, mistakenly believing a man having a mental health crisis had a gun on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Police release name of officer who fired weapon during recent incident

The officer being investigated has worked for the department since 2016.

Editor’s note: This article includes references to suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7. It can be reached at (800) 273-8255.

The Juneau Police Department has released the name of the officer who fired his weapon while responding to a call about a man experiencing a mental health crisis on Tuesday.

Officer Eric Hoffman is currently on administrative leave as JPD and the Alaska Bureau of Investigation look into the incident, which occurred Tuesday.

No one was struck by the rounds Hoffman fired, but they did strike two buildings, shattering a window, which caused minor injuries to a person, according to police.

“Officer Hoffman has been employed with the City and Borough of Juneau as a police officer since June of 2016,” said Lt. Krag Campbell in a news release. “Prior to that, he was employed with the Fairbanks Police Department for three years.”

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The incident occurred when emergency services received a call at 7:24 p.m. Tuesday from a family member of a man who was threatening to harm himself with a loaded gun inside a residence in the Kodzoff II Trailer Park in the Mendenhall Valley. Officers arrived on scene at 8:07 p.m., Campbell said.

“I saw four men lurking, doing this pseudo-military walk,” said Maggie Watson, who lives down the street from where the incident happened, in a recent interview. “It looked like they had a rifle.”

The officers, including Hoffman, advanced down the street calling out the subject’s name, Watson said, before locating him several addresses down from her residence.

“They camped out in a snow berm,” Watson said.

The Empire filed a request to obtain footage from bodycams or vehicles at the scene of the event. The request was denied by JPD, which cited an open investigation.

One or more of the officers thought the subject was pointing a gun at them, and Hoffman fired three rounds, striking two trailers, the news release said. Broken glass from a shot-out window injured a bystander, who was treated on-scene and released, the news release said.

“It was learned that the 65-year-old male was not in possession of a gun during the shooting,” Campbell said. “A gun was recovered from inside the 65-year-old man’s residence.”

The subject was not injured, the news release said, but was handcuffed and sent to Bartlett Regional Hospital for evaluation.

“Obviously they had apprehended him after the situation,” Watson said. “If this is who I think it is, he’s a kind and gentle person. Pulling a gun? That doesn’t sound like him.”

The JPD’s Criminal Investigations Unit arrived at the scene at that point to investigate the incident, Campbell said, which involved seizing Hoffman’s duty weapon. ABI investigators arrived in Juneau Wednesday morning to lead the investigation, the news release said.

“The Alaska State Troopers, including the Alaska Bureau of Investigation, core missions include the support and assistance of other law enforcement and governmental agencies,” said Alaska Department of Public Safety public information officer Tim DeSpain in an email. “It’s not uncommon for ABI to be requested to assist with officer-involved shootings or major crime investigations.”

At the completion of the ABI’s investigation, all information will be send to the Office of Special Prosecutions, part of the Alaska Department of Law that investigates this and other criminal cases that don’t fall within typical lines.

The last time a JPD officer was involved in an officer-involved shooting was following a late 2019 incident where an officer shot and killed a man advancing aggressively on him, which occurred on Cinema Drive, only several hundred yards from the latest incident. The officer was later cleared of wrongdoing the OSP.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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