TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A man whose attorney said he fatally shot a Tulsa police sergeant and wounded another because he feared for his life during a traffic stop was convicted of murder Friday.
A Tulsa County jury deliberated about three hours before convicting David Anthony Ware, 34, in the death of Sgt. Craig Johnson and wounding of Officer Aurash Zarkeshan. Ware faces a possible death sentence when that phase of the trial begins Monday.
In closing arguments, Ware’s attorney, Kevin Adams, again showed jurors a still photograph taken from a police video in which Johnson is seen kicking Ware during the traffic stop early on June 29, 2020. Adams argued that Ware feared for his life because the officers beat, kicked, pepper-sprayed and shot him with a stun gun.
With those actions, police “stop being a law enforcement officer and become a lawbreaker,” Adams told jurors.
However, prosecutor Kevin Gray told jurors that Ware brought the violence on himself by refusing to comply with officers’ instructions and resisting.
“He deprived Sgt. Johnson of his unalienable right to life,” Gray told the jury.
Gray had told jurors during opening statements that Zarkeshan pulled Ware over about 3 a.m. after he saw him run a stop sign and 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.
Zarkeshan testified that he had not watched video of the shooting because “I don’t want to see myself or my friend be shot.”
Adams told jurors during closing arguments, “You guys have done something that most members of the Tulsa Police Department haven’t: You watched the video.”
Matthew Hall was convicted of being an accessory to a felony for driving Ware from the scene after the shooting.