Tulsa officer shot during traffic stop makes appearance in department’s ‘thank you’ video

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TULSA, Okla. (KFOR) – The Tulsa police officer who was shot during a traffic stop last month is thanking the community for their support during his recovery.

Around 3:30 a.m. on June 29, two officers with the Tulsa Police Department pulled over a vehicle in the 8900 block of East 21st Street.

Investigators say the officers asked the driver, David Ware, to get out of his vehicle 12 times. When he refused, a taser was deployed.

When that didn’t work, officials say the officers attempted to spray Ware with pepper spray.

When Ware was out of the vehicle, authorities say Ware pulled out a gun and started firing at the officers.

“The bullets found their mark, struck the officers, and the officers were critically injured. The officers went down and the driver slowly walked away from the vehicle and got into a waiting vehicle that had arrived to the scene and drove away,” said Chief Wendell Franklin, with the Tulsa Police Department.

Sgt. Craig Johnson and Officer Aurash Zarkeshan were both shot multiple times and rushed to a nearby hospital in critical condition.

Sgt. Craig Johnson and Officer Aurash Zarkeshan
Sgt. Craig Johnson and Officer Aurash Zarkeshan

Sadly, officials with the Tulsa Police Department announced that Johnson passed away from his injuries the next day.

“Yesterday, he sustained multiple gunshot wounds, one of which was critical. He underwent surgery. Doctors and nurses attempted and tried everything that they could to save his life. Today, Sgt. Craig Johnson passed away,” said Chief Franklin.

In the days that followed, authorities with the police department say Zarkeshan’s condition started to improve.

Aurash Zarkeshan
Aurash Zarkeshan

Family members said Zarkeshan was responsive to tests being conducted and also reacted to visitors.

Eventually, doctors were even able to remove his breathing tube.

“The rehabilitation is going great with his physical strength improving to the point that he can stand. He is well ahead of where the doctors expected him to be given the injuries that he sustained,” the department posted on Facebook.

According to KJRH, Zarkeshan was released from the hospital around July 15, and transferred to an out-of-state rehab facility.

On Wednesday, the Tulsa Police Department posted a video thanking the community for coming together to support the department.

“When tragedy strikes a family, that family casts aside all its differences and comes together as one,” said Franklin. “They lean on one another to get through and to endure. The Tulsa Police Department is no different.”

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum also made an appearance in the video, saying he will never forget the love and support the community showed for the officers following the tragic incident.

Kristi Johnson, the widow of Craig Johnson, says their family appreciates the continuous outpouring of care and love.

“Sergeant Johnson’s family would like to thank everybody for the outreach that we have had of love and support,” she said. “We appreciate all of it so very much. Thank you.”

In the final moments of the video, Zarkeshan makes his first appearance since the devastating day.

“Thank you, Tulsa, for your continued love and support through my recovery. I can’t wait to be back home,” he said.

Zarkeshan started at the Tulsa Police Academy in 2019 and completed his training in May. He was out on patrol for only six weeks.

Ware is facing several charges, including murder in the first degree and shooting with intent to kill.

If you would like to donate to the Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police Benevolence Fund, click here.

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