Judge holds off releasing video of 2 Tulsa cops being shot
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma judge ruled against publicly releasing video that shows two Tulsa police officers being shot during a traffic stop at least until a preliminary hearing in September.
David Anthony Ware, 32, had a not-guilty plea entered on his behalf July 16 on four charges, including first-degree murder and shooting with intent to kill in connection to the June 29 fatal shooting of Tulsa Police Sgt. Craig Johnson, 45, and the shooting of Officer Aurash Zarkeshan, 26.
Special Judge David Guten approved a prosecutor’s request on July 6 to prevent release of video footage of the shooting for at least six months.
Defense attorney Kevin Adams said footage could refute statements that a Tulsa police detective wrote in an affidavit about Ware reportedly standing over Johnson while shooting him. Adams said another issue is that the judge’s approval to block release of the video was made before his appointment on July 14 and before he could respond in court.
“They’re trying to paint this narrative of a cold, calculated killer, OK?” Adams said.
Court documents filed Monday suggest that Homicide Unit Lt. Brandon Watkins wrote a supplemental report indicating that the statement, which he described as “likely a conflation and poor understanding” of what occurred, came from a crime scene detective.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray also acknowledged Monday that a police affidavit used in the case misrepresented some of Ware’s actions, but added that “counsel for (Ware) is properly equipped to respond to that inaccuracy” without publicly releasing the video because his office has made Watkins’ supplemental report available to the defense.
Defense attorney Brian Martin, who represents Ware’s co-defendant, Matthew Hall, also noted that his client does not have any agreement in place with the state to testify in a Sept. 2 preliminary hearing. Hall, who entered a not guilty plea on June 30, is charged with being an accessory to murder and an accessory to shooting with intent to kill.
Adams said the case against Ware will likely be whether a jury agrees that Oklahoma has the right to legally execute him in what will be, in his view, an act of retribution for the killing of a police sergeant.