Okla. police chief asks for unity after officers shot during traffic stop
"Here in Tulsa today, we're going to have to pray, and we're also going to have to take action," Police Chief Wendell Franklin said
By Sarah Calams
TULSA, Okla. — A police chief is asking for his community to come together after two of his officers were shot and critically injured during a traffic stop Monday morning.
Tulsa World reported that Officer Aurash Zarkeshan, 26, a recent Tulsa Police Academy graduate who has been on patrol for about six weeks, stopped a vehicle with an expired temporary tag. Sgt. Craig Johnson, 45, who joined the Tulsa Police Department in 2005, arrived soon after to back up Zarkeshan. The driver, later identified as David Anthony Ware, refused to get out of the car when the officers told him the vehicle would be towed for taxes due to the state.
Sgt. Johnson told Ware to get out of the vehicle 12 times. He also demonstrated three times that his TASER was charged, according to the report. Ware claimed the officers were "violating his rights" after telling him his vehicle would be towed, according to court documents.
Both officers tried to pull Ware from the vehicle and Sgt. Johnson shot Ware with his TASER during a scuffle. However, Ware ripped out the probes and Sgt. Johnson pepper-sprayed him twice as they struggled to remove Ware from the vehicle.
"Ware reaches under his seat and as the officers are pulling him out, he produces a gun and fires three times at each officer," an affidavit said.
Ware shot Sgt. Johnson three more times, according to police.
"The officers went down, and the driver slowly walked away from the vehicle and got into a waiting vehicle that had arrived to the scene and drove away," Police Chief Wendell Franklin said.
Both officers were struck in the head and torso.
“We need this community to come together," Franklin said. "Here in Tulsa today, we're going to have to pray, and we're also going to have to take action."
Ware has been charged with two counts of shooting with intent to kill and possession of a firearm with a former conviction of a felony, according to Tulsa County prosecutors.
"Every time I put this uniform on, I remember the last part of our oath (of) office, and that says 'with my life if need be,'" Franklin said. "This uniform is just that: It's a uniform. Inside of this uniform is just a regular person. I'm just like you, and we're just like you. The only difference is we do a different job than what you do. So, for us, we're just as much a part of the community as you are."
Johnson and Zarkeshan remain in critical condition at two local hospitals and both have undergone at least one surgery. On Monday evening, Zarkeshan's brother released a statement, saying the officer was "out of surgery and stable, but not out of the woods yet."