Man Wielding Broomstick Shot By Officer Was Under the Influence

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by Russ Slaten

Anchorage police said the man shot to death in Mountain View last month by an officer had drugs and alcohol in his system. The toxicology report from the State Medical Examiner's Office show the man had been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana and synthetic marijuana.

Police released the analysis of the autopsy report for 26-year-old Shane Tasi today. Officer Gionson fired at Tasi after he approached him aggressively with a three-foot broomstick and refused repeated commands to put it down, police said.

The toxicology report for Shane Tasi said his blood alcohol-content was .185, more than twice the legal driving limit. Additionally, there were metabolites of marijuana and synthetic cannabinoids in his system.

The officer involved shooting has seen criticism from the Polynesian community, but a state investigation into the case said Officer Boaz Gionson used justifiable force when he drew his service weapon fatally shooting Tasi on June 9th.

With the toxicology report brought to light, police said it highlights the dangers of synthetic drugs.

"It's dangerous to begin with because we don't know what the drugs exactly are when they're purchased. There may be a mixture of drugs, but it's a dangerous thing. We see people acting totally out of character, as we understand Mr. Tasi did, totally out of character when they get this stuff in their system," said Lt. Dave Parker, spokesperson for the Anchorage Police Department.

Synthetic marijuana, also known as Spice or K2, is a blend of spices and herbs sprayed with a compound similar to the psycho-active ingredient in marijuana.

"One of the problems we have is that the chemical composition is such that it can be changed very slightly, have the same chemical reactions in your body and still is not exactly the same drug as might have been made illegal," said Lt. Parker.

Sen. Kevin Meyer, (R) Anchorage, recently co-sponsored bills to ban both synthetic marijuana and synthetic cocaine, saying the ease for people to buy the chemicals matched with the uncertainty of its side-effects were the greatest cause for concern.

"The kids, and in some cases adults, who were buying it didn't think it was harmful because it's being sold over the counter, so it must be ok, right? And so that was some of the hazards and some of the reasons why we needed to make both synthetic marijuana and synthetic cocaine illegal," said Sen. Meyer.

Anchorage police say synthetic drugs are popping up in more violent crimes, and sometimes, may be the reason.

Under state law, the first offense for using synthetic marijuana, also known as Spice or K2, is a class A misdemeanor, and the first offense for using synthetic cocaine, or bath salts, is a felony.