TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS5) — A trooper with the Arizona Department of Safety was being attacked by a suspect and feared for his life when he fired his weapon, killing the suspect. The violent confrontation was captured on the trooper’s dash camera.
The incident started shortly before midnight near Scottsdale Road just south of the Loop 202 Freeway.
At a Friday afternoon news conference, DPS Director Col. Frank Milstead said Trooper Hugh Grant had been driving on a DUI holiday task force (with a citizen observer in his car) when he saw a man knock a street sign into the roadway. That man has been identified as 25-year-old Ahmed E A Al-Hashemi.
Milstead said the trooper used his PA system to tell Al Hashemi to pick up the sign. But the man refused, became “defiant” and started walking along Rural Road away from the trooper. Video shows the man come toward the trooper’s car and kicking the hood.
“Due to the erratic and threatening behavior of the subject,” the trooper parked and got out of his car, continuing to order Al Hashemi to the ground, Milstead said. But he reportedly refused all commands. That led to a confrontation between the two men, said Milstead. You can see the struggle ensue on the dash-cam video.
Milstead says the trooper used his Taser two times on Al Hashemi, but it was ineffective. Milstead says Al Hashemi continued to defy all orders and resisted efforts to be taken into custody.
Then Al Hashemi came at the trooper and “rushed him.” The “violent” encounter then escalated, said Milstead.
“The attack can be characterized as extraordinarily vicious,” reads a statement from DPS.
During the struggle, Grant was hit, punched, head-butted, kicked, and knocked to the ground at least three times, says DPS. At one point, Milstead said Al Hashemi grabbed the trooper’s Taser, and struck the trooper in the head with it. You can see the pieces of the Taser fly in the air on the video.
“Within seconds, the trooper was in a fight for his life,” reads a statement from DPS. “The trooper desperately called for his citizen observer to radio for help.”
The attack continued. DPS said Al Hashemi continued to “kick the trooper in the head.”
Milstead said just as Grant was about to lose consciousness, he fired his service weapon. “The trooper knew both his life and the life of the citizen observer in his car were in immediate danger of death. As his last resort, the trooper deployed his duty weapon, striking the subject and killing him.”
Witnesses describe what they saw. “We were just coming back home, and on the way, at the light, the officer was on the floor on his back. There was this guy on top of him, kicking him, punching him,” said witness Daniela Martinez. “I was like, in shock or something.”
Martinez said the whole thing was very frightening to see. “I was terrified. I honestly wanted to try to get out of my truck and try to help that officer when he was on the ground, and it looked like he was struggling to get back up,” she said. “To me it looked like the suspect is the one that grabbed the gun from him.”
Trooper Grant was taken to a hospital where he was treated for his injuries. He has since been released and is at home resting with his family but continues to suffer from pain in his head and face, Milstead said.
Al Hashemi, a Qatari national, was in the United States on student Visa. Arizona State University confirmed that he is a former student.
Milstead said he had been arrested recently for trespassing at the Islamic Center in Tempe. Tempe Police Department officials say the incident happened this past Wednesday when Al Hashemi first showed up at the Islamic Center, located near Mill Avenue and University Drive. Police say he went into the building and caused a disturbance. Police escorted him from the area and issued a trespass warning. Later the same day, Al Hashemi returned to the Islamic Center. He was arrested and charged with trespassing.