Alaska pays $150,000 in shooting case

Posted: Sunday, September 26, 2010

ANCHORAGE - The state will pay $150,000 to the family of a motorist who was shot and killed by a state trooper at a Kenai highway pullout in 2003, the Alaska Department of Law said Friday.

The parents of Casey Porter sued former Trooper Jesse Osborn in federal court, saying the trooper wasn't acting with a legitimate police purpose when he shot their son.

U.S. District Judge Russel Holland this week mediated settlement talks between the two parties, the Porters' attorney Mark Osterman told the Anchorage Daily News.

Taking the case to trial would have been a gamble, Osterman said, noting that recent federal appellate court rulings have made it harder to win against law enforcement officer.

The state did not acknowledge wrongdoing, and Department of Law spokesman Bill McAllister said the state settled to avoid the expense of a trial.

"While this incident was tragic, as any fatal shooting is, the trooper fired his weapon because he reasonably concluded that deadly force was necessary to protect a fellow law enforcement officer," McAllister wrote in an e-mail responding to questions from the newspaper about the settlement.

Independent reviews of the case by the Alaska State Troopers and the District Attorney's Office found that the shooting was justified, he added.

Casey Porter was shot and killed Jan. 4, 2003, after a snowplow operator called in a suspicious vehicle report off the Sterling Highway. Porter was sitting in his car, when Osborn and trooper Joseph Whittom responded.

A trooper investigation found that Porter, who was disabled and used a cane to walk, did not follow the Osborn's order to get out of the car.

Osborn pepper-sprayed him inside the car, and then as Porter's car moved forward, the trooper fired five shots, killing the man, the investigation found. Four of the bullets hit Porter.

Osborn told investigators he shot Porter to protect his fellow trooper. But Whittom initially told investigators that he "couldn't believe that shots were fired in a situation like this," the newspaper reported.

Osborn resigned in 2007 to pursue a career in sailing, according to a Department of Public Safety newsletter.

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