TULSA, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma man who shot two Tulsa police officers, killing one and seriously wounding the other, was in fear for his life after the officers beat, kicked, pepper sprayed and shot him with a stun gun after a traffic stop, his attorney told jurors during opening statements Monday.
David Anthony Ware, 34, faces a possible death sentence for killing Sgt. Craig Johnson. He’s also charged with wounding a second officer, Aurash Zarkeshan, following a traffic stop on June 29, 2020, along with drug and other charges.
“The truth is that when David Ware shot Officer Zarkeshan and Sgt. Johnson, he was in fear for his life,” Ware’s attorney Kevin Adams said. “Sgt. Johnson and Officer Zarkeshan beat David Ware, they kicked David Ware, they tased David Ware, they maced David Ware as he pleaded and begged for somebody to help him.
“And when it got to the point that he felt that he was about to lose his life, he shot Officer Zarkashan and he shot Sgt. Craig Johnson.”
Prosecutors say Ware, who is white, escalated the situation following the traffic stop by refusing to obey the commands of officers as they sought to get him out of the vehicle.
“(Zarkeshan) asked him to step out of the car. This is where things start to get ugly,” said Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray. “The traffic stop started out OK. It went really bad.”
Gray said Zarkeshan pulled Ware over about 3 a.m. after he saw him run a stop sign and then take a wide turn into another lane of traffic. Ware failed to produce a driver’s license or proof of insurance when Zarkeshan asked him to provide those documents.
A nine-man, three-woman jury, along with several alternate jurors, were selected last week.
Co-defendant Matthew Hall, who authorities said drove Ware from the scene after the shooting, is serving a 24-year prison sentence after being convicted on two counts of being an accessory to a felony in the case.