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State Trooper, Wasilla Officer Named in Driver’s Fatal Shooting

By Chris Klint, Senior Digital Producer, cklint@ktuu.com
Published On: Mar 12 2014 09:33:24 PM AKDT
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Alaska State Troopers have identified two law enforcement officers who shot and killed a Wasilla man who allegedly backed his vehicle toward them after a Parks Highway pursuit Sunday night.

According to a Wednesday AST dispatch, the officers who killed 52-year-old Gordon E. Samel were Trooper Daron L. Cooper, a six-year AST veteran serving as a K-9 handler in the Palmer patrol unit, and Wasilla Police Department Officer Brandon L. Gray, currently with the department’s patrol unit.

Cooper was one of several troopers who fired on and killed 58-year-old Nora Jean York in November 2009, after she leveled a shotgun at them during a Wasilla domestic-violence call. Prosecutors with the state Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals later cleared Cooper and the other officers in the shooting.

The Sunday incident began at about 9 p.m., when troopers tried to make a traffic stop on Samel in the parking lot of a Wasilla business after reports that two intoxicated men were driving around in a pickup truck. After a brief chase, one WPD cruiser and two AST vehicles boxed Samel in at the Parks Highway’s intersection with the Seward Meridian Parkway, when Samel backed his vehicle toward Gray.

An autopsy confirmed that gunfire from Gray and Cooper killed Samel. A state investigation of Sunday’s shooting is being conducted by OSPA.