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Date: 05-09-2023

Case Style:

The Estate of Bishar Ali Hassan v. Municipality and City of Anchorage, et al.

Case Number: 3:21-CV-76

Judge: Sharon L. Gleason

Court: United States District Court for the District of Alaska (Anchorage Borough)

Plaintiff's Attorney:

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Defendant's Attorney:

Description: Anchorage, Alaska civil rights lawyer represented Plaintiff who sued Defendants on excessive force wrongful death theories under 42 U.S.C. 1983.

Plaintiffs brought this suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985, and 1986 seeking redress for alleged violations of Plaintiffs' federal constitutional rights guaranteed by the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments.[51] The Court has jurisdiction over these claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343. The Court declines to exercise its supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367, as discussed in Section VI of this order.

This case concerns the death of Bishar Ali Hassan, who was shot to death by Anchorage police officers on April 1, 2019. According to the call log, the events occurred over a span of less than ten minutes. Beginning around 5:45 p.m. that evening, Anchorage Police Department (“APD”) dispatch started receiving numerous calls reporting that a Black adult male was brandishing a handgun near the Walmart on A Street in Anchorage.[2]

Over the course of the next three minutes, callers provided a fractured account of Mr. Hassan's movements. One caller saw him “pull[] a handgun out of his jacket” and another said he pulled the gun from “inside his pants or jacket.” One caller observed him “walk . . . in traffic” and another saw him “walking . . . on a street waving the gun on the sidewalk.” Callers described what he was doing with his gun in various ways: “pointing it down,” “carrying it,” “waving [the gun] around,” “brandishing a handgun,” and “not pointing it at anyone and [kept] putting it in his pocket.”[3]

Four minutes after the first call was received, a caller observed Mr. Hassan “tuck[] the gun into the front right pants or front right jacket” and board a bus. A minute later, a caller said that they “never saw [him] fire the weapon, never heard any gun shots” and did not see him “interact with anyone.” Two minutes after Mr. Hassan got on the bus, he was observed getting off the bus. Six minutes after the first call was received the police shot their firearms at Mr. Hassan.[4]

While callers spoke with APD dispatch, Officers Hall, Lewis, and Eggiman were each on the way to the scene.[5] After Mr. Hassan got off the bus, Officer Hall drove his vehicle up on the sidewalk behind him.[6] Officer Lewis pulled up behind Officer Hall and Officer Eggiman parked on the side of the road, next to the curb, and in line with Officer Hall's car.[7] The in-car video (ICV) recording systems from all three cars record what happened next, but the interaction took place in a matter of seconds, making it difficult to see the sequence of events.[8] A forensic video
analyst isolated each frame, taken milliseconds apart, allowing the Court to determine the sequence of events.[9]

Officer Hall turned on his emergency lights as he pulled up behind Mr. Hassan, who was facing the opposite direction and walking away from the police vehicles.[10] Mr. Hassan then turned around and started walking toward the vehicles.[11] Officer Hall said, “Hey, stop right there man, stop right there,” but Mr. Hassan continued walking towards him and started reaching for his gun one second later.[12] Mr. Hassan made contact with his gun and then Officer Hall started reaching for his own gun.[13] Then Mr. Hassan started raising his gun, with his finger near the trigger guard, toward Officer Hall.[14] Officer Hall appeared to begin issuing another command, saying “step,” but did not finish his sentence.[15] At 17:52:43.030, the barrel of Mr. Hassan's gun was directed toward Officer Hall.[16]Less than a second later, at 17:52:43.197, Officer Hall fired the first shot.[17] Mr.

Hassan began to drop his gun less than a second after that, at 17:52:43.363, and he fell to the ground.[18]

According to the forensic video analysis, “[a]t the time of the first shot, Hassan was holding his gun directly toward Hall, with his gun hand outstretched and the muzzle directed toward Hall.”[19] The three officers fired a total of 13 shots in 2.4 seconds.[20] Several of these shots did not strike Mr. Hassan.[21]

After the officers stopped firing at Mr. Hassan, he lay on the ground and did not attempt to stand, but he raised his head up off the ground a few times and moved his arms around for approximately 50 seconds.[22] His gun was on the ground approximately an arm's length away from him.[23] He disregarded several commands to roll onto his stomach and appeared to try to speak with the officers, but his words were not picked up on the ICVs.[24] When he stopped moving, officers approached him and began providing medical assistance.[25] When Officer Eggiman picked up Mr. Hassan's gun off of the ground, he realized from the weight of it that it was not a real gun.[26]

Mr. Hassan's brother, Ahmed Hassan, arrived on the scene shortly before the shooting occurred.[27] Ahmed Hassan explained that he got a call from a cab driver telling him that his brother was mad and needed to be picked up, so Ahmed Hassan drove to the Wal-Mart, but when he arrived, his brother was already on the bus. Ahmed Hassan pulled up to a bus stop at A Street and 16th to wait for his brother.[28] Ahmed Hassan watched the three police cars pull up behind his brother and saw his brother turn towards them.[29] He watched the police officers surround his brother and then shoot at him.[30] He acknowledged that he could not see everything that happened, however, because vehicles and people were blocking his view.[31] After the shooting occurred, officers approached him and he told them that Mr. Hassan is his brother and he had seen what had happened.[32] According to Ahmed Hassan's deposition, he wanted to go to the hospital with his brother, but the officers told him that he had to go with them to the station because “it's the law.”[33] Ahmed Hassan also testified that the officers conducted a pat down of him and checked his pockets.[34]

Ahmed Hassan's interaction with the officer who transported him to the station was recorded.[35] The officer's alleged statement that Ahmed Hassan had to go with him to the station because it was the law does not appear in the transcript of the recording. To the contrary, at the beginning of the recording, the officer said “You're not under arrest or anything like that. I'm just going to do a quick pat (indiscernible) see if you have any weapons on you.”[36] While Ahmed Hassan waited at the station to be interviewed, an officer helped him make phone calls and offered him food and water. The officer repeatedly stated that they had several witnesses to interview, and they would interview him as soon as they could.[37]While he waited, Ahmed Hassan asked, “I want to know my brother's intuition [sic], if he's alive or if he's dead. We want to get to his body if he's alive-he's dead. If he's alive I want to know it.”[38] However, he does not directly ask to leave the police station to go to the hospital.

The interview of Ahmed Hassan by Detective Foraker was also recorded.[39]At the beginning of the interview, the detective asked, “are you okay to take a few minutes here and talk to me?” and Ahmed Hassan responded, “yeah.”[40] At one point, the officer asked “[i]s your plan to go to the hospital?” and Ahmed Hassan replied, “I want to go [sic] hospital and my mom, too, both.”[41] Near the end of the interview, the officer informed Ahmed Hassan that his brother had died.[42] The officers brought Ahmed Hassan to his mother's house to speak with her about her son's death.[43]

The Estate of Bishar Ali Hassan, Ahmed Hassan, and their mother, Bilay Aden Idiris, filed suit against the Municipality of Anchorage, the Anchorage Police Department, and Officers Matthew Hall, Nathan Lewis, and Brett Eggiman.[44] The complaint alleges 11 claims.[45] The first two claims for relief allege that Defendants violated Mr. Hassan's Fourth Amendment rights by detaining and arresting him and using excessive force against him.[46] The third claim alleges that Defendants violated Ahmed Hassan and Bilay Aden Idiris's Fourteenth Amendment rights by
way of an “unwarranted state interference in Plaintiff's familial relationship with . . . DECEDENT.”[47] The fourth and fifth claims allege that the Municipality is liable for maintaining an unconstitutional custom or policy and failure to train.[48] The next three claims are state law claims on behalf of Mr. Hassan alleging false arrest/false imprisonment, battery, and negligence.[49] The final three claims are state law claims on behalf of Ahmed Hassan for false arrest/false imprisonment, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Outcome: It is ordered that:

• Municipal Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment at Docket 34 is GRANTED such that:


o Summary judgment is GRANTED with respect to the federal claims (Counts I, II, III, IV, and V),

o All remaining state law claims (Counts VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, and XI) are DISMISSED without prejudice because this Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over those claims;

• Plaintiffs' Cross Motion for Summary Judgment at Docket 40 is DENIED;

• Municipal Defendants' Motion to Strike Cross Motion for Summary Judgment at Docket 42 is DENIED;

• Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Defendants to Produce Discovery at Docket 47 is DENIED as moot; and

• Municipal Defendants' Motion to Strike Plaintiffs' Untimely Motion to Compel at Docket 48 is DENIED as moot.

The Clerk of Court shall enter a final judgment accordingly.
Estate of Hassan v. Mun.ity & City of Anchorage (D. Alaska 2023)

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