JUNEAU – A Juneau man was sentenced to more than six years in prison by U.S. District Judge Timothy M. Burgess for illegally possessing a firearm. During the sentencing Judge Burgess noted the defendant’s significant prior history involving violence against others and the seriousness of this offense endangering the officer and others.
According to court documents, Pharoah Akhenaten, aka Curtis Burchfield, 41, pulled a firearm on a Juneau police officer in an effort to stop his arrest on an underlying warrant. Due to prior felony convictions punishable by more than one year in prison, Akhenaten is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition.
On October 22, 2019, a Juneau police officer observed Akhenaten in a vehicle with a female passenger where there had been reports of suspicious activity involving the vehicle earlier in the evening. The officer contacted Akhenaten to confirm his identity. During this contact Akhenaten pretended to have a diabetic condition and got out of the vehicle indicating he was going to throw up. The officer was advised that Akhenaten had an active arrest warrant. He vigorously resisted the officer’s attempt to place him under arrest, spinning into the officer’s face and pushing the officer backwards onto the ground. Akhenaten then began advancing towards the officer on the ground with what appeared, and later confirmed, to be a firearm. The officer was able to discharge a taser hitting Akhenaten who then got back into his car and started it. Additional officers arrived on scene and arrested Akhenaten who was wearing an empty holster. The officers found a firearm loaded and chambered in the vehicle floorboard.
“Pursuing and prosecuting violent offenders is one of the highest priorities of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners,” said U.S. Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr., for the District of Alaska. “And anyone who attacks or endangers law enforcement officers as they work to keep the public safe will face severe penalties, as reflected by this substantial sentence.”
The Juneau Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt prosecuted the case.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.