Tulsa cop says he can’t recall shooting that killed sergeant

A Tulsa police officer who was wounded in a shooting that killed a police sergeant told jurors Thursday that he does not remember the events of that night, including what led to the gunfire.

Officer Aurash Zarkeshan testified in the murder trial of David Anthony Ware, saying he has not watched video of the June 2020 shooting that killed Sgt. Craig Johnson because “I don’t want to see myself or my friend be shot.”

Defense attorney Kevin Adams has said that Ware, 34, feared for his life because the officers beat, kicked, pepper sprayed and shot him with a stun gun after a traffic stop. Prosecutors say Ware escalated the situation by refusing to obey the officers’ commands as they sought to get him out of his vehicle.

Under cross-examination by Adams, Zarkeshan acknowledged that videos would show truthfully the events leading to the shooting, but that he still does not want to watch.

“If finding out the truth means I have to watch myself and my friend be shot, then I don’t want to know” exactly what happened, Zarkeshan said.

Ware, who is also charged with shooting with intent to kill Zarkeshan, has pleaded not guilty. He faces a possible death sentence if convicted.

Zarkeshan denied that a social media post in which he said he was employed by the city of Tulsa’s waste management department was a reference to suspected criminals being garbage.

Zarkeshan said he never worked for the city’s waste management department and that the post was a “bad joke” when he was in police academy. He said he wanted to show he worked for the city, but not that he was with the Tulsa Police Department because he was not yet an officer.

Zarkeshan had been on patrol for less than six weeks before the shooting after graduating from the police academy in the spring, according to police.

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray said during opening statements that 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 then failed to produce a driver’s license or proof of insurance when Zarkeshan asked him to provide those documents, Gray said.

Matthew Hall was convicted of being an accessory to a felony for driving Ware from the scene after the shooting.

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