Arizona trooper shoots trucker to stop wrong-way big rig

October 26, 2019 GMT

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona state trooper shot and wounded a man driving a big rig the wrong way on a highway after bolting from a traffic stop and commercial vehicle inspection, officials said.

The state Department of Public Safety said the trooper on an Interstate 40 overpass near Flagstaff shot the trucker with a rifle Friday because the man’s “dangerous actions” imperiled other drivers and pursuing troopers.

The statement said the wounded man was hospitalized and expected to recover from his injuries. His identity wasn’t released.

A motorist reported seeing something thrown from the truck as it was being pulled over and the agency said in a statement that a package containing a powdery substance was found in a freeway median the driver had driven through.

Before the stop, a trooper observed the driver and a passenger switch places with each other, and during the stop one of the two people from the truck got back into the cab and drove off, the DPS statement said.

The truck drove through the median several times to avoid tire-deflation devices deployed by troopers and began driving west within eastbound traffic lanes, according to the statement.

“This gentleman dictated the course of the events from the moment he jumped in the vehicle and fled the inspection,” DPS spokesman Bart Graves told the Arizona Daily Sun . “By his driving behavior, he showed no regard for anyone else on the road.”

Graves said the trooper feared the possibility of the truck slamming into oncoming traffic and decided to fire at the truck and driver.

“You have an 18-wheeler, rolling down the road going the wrong way. These trucks may weigh several tons,” Graves said. “That could have been an absolute disaster, a huge loss of life if he struck another vehicle, or vehicles, or another semi.”

Graves said he did not know how many times the trooper fired his weapon.