Finding the defendant to be “a clear and present danger to society,” Anchorage Superior Court Judge Erin Marston imposed a sentence of 30 years on 31-year-old Pagopago Lelilio, convicted of firing a gun at officers as they tried to take him into custody.
In October 2018, an Anchorage jury found Lelilio guilty of assaulting and attempting to murder Anchorage Police Department officers.
During the sentencing hearing, Judge Marston emphasized that police officers “run to gunshots, not away” and those who would challenge a police officer in this way need to be deterred. “Society is not willing to accept this kind of behavior,” the judge said.
Evidence at trial indicated that fabric from Lelilio’s jacket prevented the gun from being fired again, but Judge Marston noted that Lelilio was actively trying to get the barrel around to get another shot during the struggle. “Police officers were almost killed because you had a gun,” said Judge Marston, speaking directly to the defendant.
Lelilio, with prior convictions including three prior assaults, two of them felonies, faced up to 99 years in prison.
During his sentencing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Daniel Shorey read the names of Alaska law enforcement officers murdered in the line of duty. Mr. Shorey asked the court to send a message that “violence perpetrated against those who are trying to protect us” will not be tolerated.
Officers Ryan Proegler and Nicholas Saldana could not attend the sentencing but offered victim impact statements read by other APD members. Officer Proegler, whose face was sprayed by dirt from the impact of the bullet, wrote of needing counseling to deal with the ongoing anxiety of having almost been shot in the head. Officer Saldana, in his victim impact statement, directed his comments to the defendant, noting that the city of Anchorage “spoke loud and clear in returning a guilty verdict.”
In a courtroom filled with members of enforcement, an emotional Lelilio apologized to his victims and took responsibility for carrying a gun and having ran away.
"When someone attacks law enforcement, it makes an enormous impact not only on our public safety family but on our entire community," said APD Chief Justin Doll. "Today's sentencing of the defendant sends an important message that he is being held accountable for his dangerous actions."