Trooper involved in fatal shooting identified

Alaska State Troopers have identified the officer who shot and killed Sterling resident Jon Ployhar during a traffic stop on Saturday.

Trooper John King’s name was withheld for 72 hours after the shooting per Alaska State Troopers policy. King, a nearly two-year veteran of the agency, is stationed with the detachment of troopers who cover the Kenai Peninsula, according to a trooper dispatch.

The department will look at “any and all evidence available” during the investigation of the shooting, Alaska State Troopers Public Information Officer Megan Peters said in an email.

“We treat these investigations just like any other potential criminal investigation,” she said. “In all of our investigations we are trying to determine what happened and if there is any criminality involved and by whom.”

Once the investigation closes, Peters said the Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals will receive the report to decide if the “shooting is a justified use of force.”

“After (the office) makes its determination, the incident is scrutinized further by the Department of Public Safety to determine if any policies or procedures were violated and what can be learned from the incident,” she said. “It is quite a lengthy process.”

King tried to make a traffic stop around mile 82 of the Sterling Highway on Saturday night and ended up pursuing the driver, 49-year-old Sterling resident Ployhar, down Moose River Drive. When Ployhar did stop, troopers say a physical confrontation ended with King pulling his gun and shooting Ployhar, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sterling Brotherhood member Wayne “Froggy” Debnam said Ployhar was one of the Brotherhood members who chased a wanted burglar, Brandon Bernier, into the river and held him in Sterling until troopers got there in August.

Ployhar had a record of charges dating back to 1990 including a mix of minor offenses and misdemeanors, according to Courtview records.

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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