Subject: Officer Involved Shooting – Cinema Drive - UPDATED
Date: 2019-12-29
From: Erann Kalwara - JPD PIO
Case or Incident: #191229-001

***** Update January 3rd, 2020 4:50 p.m. *****

The officer involved in this case is Officer James Esbenshade. Officer Esbenshade has worked for JPD since January of 2009 and has 11 years of service with JPD.

An autopsy was performed by the State Medical Examiner on Kelly Michael Stephens. A trooper from the Alaska Bureau of Investigations attended the autopsy.

Anyone with first-hand information about the incident should contact JPD at 907-586-0600 or submit a tip online at

***** Updated Press Release 12/29/2019 4pm*****

On December 28, 2019, at approximately 10:18 p.m., the Juneau Police Department received a report of an assault that occurred in the area of Mall Road. A 54 year old male Juneau resident reported that he was walking into Superbear when an unknown man approached him and threatened to kill him.
The victim said the male suspect swung a chain at him that had a grappling hook at the end. The suspect said, “I’m gonna kill you. I’m gonna kill you.” The victim went inside the store and called the police. A JPD officer arrived and conducted an investigation into the assault. The male suspect was not immediately located.

At about 12:28 a.m, on December 29th, the Juneau Police Department received a report of a disturbance with a shot fired at the Chinook Apartments.

At approximately 12:32 a.m., one JPD officer arrived on scene in the area of the Chinook Apartments. This officer was the same officer that took the report of a male swinging a weapon at Superbear two hours earlier.

The JPD officer heard yelling and contacted several people. One person was screaming and swinging a chain. The male suspect swinging the chain approached the officer on foot and repeatedly screamed that he was going to kill the officer. The officer repeatedly gave the male verbal commands to stop. The suspect did not comply. The officer shot the suspect one time in the torso.

Other JPD officers arrived on scene and the suspect’s weapon was secured. The male suspect was hand cuffed and an ambulance was called. CCF/R medics arrived and took the male suspect to the Bartlett Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased. The male has been identified as 34 year old Juneau resident Kelly Michael Stephens. His next of kin has been notified.

JPD detectives were called to process the scene and interview witnesses. Investigators from the Alaska State Troopers Bureau of Investigations are en route to Juneau to assist with the investigation.


On December 29th, 2019 at 12:28 a.m., a call was received from a woman reporting someone shot a gun near a residence on Cinema Drive. While on 9-1-1, the caller said they could hear someone screaming outside.

A JPD officer responded and contacted a male subject on Cinema Drive. During the contact, the subject was shot by the officer. The male subject was transported to Bartlett Regional Hospital by ambulance where he was later pronounced deceased.

Per department policy, the involved officer has been placed on administrative leave. The name of the officer will not be released for a minimum of 24 hours. Investigators from the Alaska Bureau of Investigations will assist in the investigation.

JPD officers are at the scene and additional information will be released as the investigation continues.

All factual allegations contained in this release are based upon preliminary investigation and are subject to change or clarification as the investigation continues. Any charges reported in this release are merely accusations and all persons named in this release are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.