The video below is difficult to watch, especially knowing how it ends. David Ware was stopped in Tulsa, Oklahoma because the tags on his license plate were expired meaning he had unpaid taxes to the State of Oklahoma. Under Oklahoma law, the officers were required to cite him and tow his vehicle. Seventeen minutes after pulling Ware over, Sgt. Craig Johnson lay in the street dying from gunshot wounds inflicted on him by Ware who, after an extended struggle with the officers to remove him from the car, produced a handgun and shot them both.
This happened on June 29, 2020. The video was released Monday pursuant to the order of an Oklahoma Judge who ruled the video had to be released under Oklahoma’s open records law.
My colleague Sister Toldjah wrote here about the reaction of one woman to the video’s release as expressed by her in a lengthy string of tweets.
The killer, David Ware, at first only passively resisted the officers by refusing to follow their commands to get out of the car. He doesn’t become truly combative until the very end of the video.
For nearly 8 minutes nothing terribly unusual happens. Ware is told why he was stopped, the officer gathers some paperwork from Ware regarding registration and insurance, and the officer retreats to his vehicle to do a records check.
But because the temporary tags are expired, and taxes haven’t been paid, the police have to tow the car. The officer goes back to Ware and makes several attempts to explain to Ware what was going to happen. Both Ware and the officer mention that Ware has a history of narcotics offenses, and the officer asks Ware to tell him if there is anything in the car the officer should be aware of. Ware protests the question and asks to be given his ticket so he can leave.
The officer then turns to what is going to happen and instructs Ware to get out of the car.
At 8:11 on the video, Ware refuses to step out of the car, and says “I’m not stepping out of the car.” At that point the officers had no choice — Ware had refused a lawful order, the officers were justified in being suspicious that there was something inside the car that Ware did not want them to find, and they were fully authorized to remove him from the car by force.
For 5 minutes and 20 seconds, the give him approximately 40 lawful commands to exit the car. They tell him the car is going to be towed, and it cannot be towed with him inside so he must exit the car.
Why is he acting this way?
Because he has a gun under the seat, and he’s a felon. If he exits the car the police are going to find the gun when they conduct an inventory search of the car prior to towing it. When they find the gun, Ware is going to be arrested and taken to jail.
He is hit with the taser 3 times but I suspect from inside the car he was able to pull out the probes so the current wasn’t effective. The officer on the driver’s side then uses pepper spray in an effort to incapacitate him while the officer tries to get a secure grip on his arms to pull him from the car.
Ware is not a small guy. He’s able to employ his strength and body weight to prevent the officer from being able to drag him out of the car. He uses his feet planted on the pavement for leverage to keep the officers from being able to pull him out of the car.
Beginning at about 14:45 Ware now engages in full-on defense using his arms to ward off the efforts of the officers to secure a grip on him to pull him out of the car. Ware is still using his feet planted on the pavement as leverage against being dragged out of the car.
Ware then leans backward lifting both feet off the ground and lays on his back across the driver’s seat and the center console for just a second as his right hand disappears from view. As one officer pull him forward again by his left hand, bending him at the waist, Ware is able to grab the gun under the seat with his right hand.
He then stands up and steps out of the car with a semi-auto in his right hand down by his right side.
The video is edited at that point to switch to the dash-cam of the car of the officer who first stopped him. It seems apparent that the officers do not realize he has a gun as they are still attempting to wrestle with him to handcuff him. When one officer realizes Ware has a gun, he pulls back so he can draw his own weapon, and Ware shoots Sgt. Johnson high in the chest from point-blank range. He then immediately fires at the second officer from 6-8 feet before the second officer can get off a shot.
So, now watch the Blake video below as Blake tries to get into his vehicle when the officers have their guns drawn and are telling him to get on the ground and comply with their orders. They had already wrestled with him once on the passenger side of the vehicle before Blake escaped from them to go around to the driver’s side door.
If Sgt. Johnson did anything wrong — and I’m not suggesting that he did — it was being too patient and not escalating his level of “violence” quickly and severly enough to overcome Ware’s in an overwhelming fashion. Instead they used a “proportionate” response — Ware wasn’t actively “fighting” so much as he was just refusing to comply and warding off their attempts to control him.
This is where the current “police reform” movement gets officers killed. Sgt. Thompson’s training told him he had to proceed “incrementally” in his escalation of the use of force against Ware in order to secure his arrest.
Ware, on the other hand, escalated from mere “resistance” to deadly force in a matter of 1-2 seconds. The officers couldn’t address the deadly threat against them until it was too late for Sgt. Johnson.
For David Ware — Oklahoma has executed the third highest number of prisoners since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
Oklahoma has executed more prisoners per capita than any other state.
Oklahoma’s death penalty statute specifically applies to murder of a peace officer in the performance of his duty.
Consider the split-second decision making of Sgt. Johnson against the split-second decision-making of the Kenosha PD Officer who shot Jacob Blake as he was reaching into his car.
One made it home alive that night to see his family, and one did not.