Video shows LEO pepper sprayed by man in OIS

Scott Buffon The Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Flagstaff Police Department has released the report detailing the officer-involved shooting on Route 66 that left Matthew Dearing, 52, with a gunshot wound in the neck.

Dearing was booked into the Coconino County Detention Facility with failure to appear, resisting arrest, and two counts of aggravated assault on Officer Nick Rubey that happened on April 8. The warrant that led to Dearing’s arrest was issued by the Flagstaff Municipal Courthouse, because he failed to appear in a disorderly conduct case in March, according to court records.

Northern Arizona University Police Department officers are leading the investigation into the use of force in the area of 2100 E. Route 66. Rubey has been an officer with the department for two and a half years and is currently on paid administrative leave pending the results of an investigation into the incident.

Route 66

The body camera footage showed Rubey speaking with Dearing for some time.

“Just thought I’d come say hi,” Rubey said in the footage to Dearing, who was sitting on his bicycle. However, Rubey had already informed dispatch that he was going to be speaking with Dearing about a suspected warrant.

After calling in the warrant, another officer began to drive toward Rubey’s location, according to the police report. The officer was at the intersection of North Fanning Drive and East Route 66, across the train tracks from the Park Sante Fe Shopping Center.

The officer said in the report that the department generally attempts to have two officers serve warrants for arrest as a precaution.

After Dearing said he was going to leave, Rubey put his hand on Dearing and attempted to throw him to the ground. During the altercation, Dearing repeatedly asked what he was being arrested for.

Rubey tried and failed to pepper spray Dearing, and in response, Dearing brought out his own pepper spray. Rubey mistook Dearing’s pepper spray for a knife and pulled out his gun. When Dearing then sprayed Rubey, Rubey fired his gun and hit Dearing in the neck.

“You killed me, [expletive],” Dearing said. “You killed me.”

The officer who was traveling to help Rubey serve the arrest heard over the radio that shots were fired, according to the report. He stopped on Route 66 as soon as he arrived at the scene.

“I placed my patrol vehicle in park and began sprinting toward Rubey’s patrol car in order to look for and assist him,” the officer wrote in the report. “I ran southbound across Route 66 in order to accomplish this.”

Without gloves, the officer helped Rubey treat Dearing’s gunshot wound using their trauma kit. When medical personnel arrived, Dearing was put on a gurney and taken away in an ambulance.

Medical authorities and the officer traveled with Dearing to the hospital, and medical personnel asked the officer to remove the knife that was clipped to Dearing’s pocket. Medics asked Dearing if he had done any drugs recently, and he responded that he had smoked methamphetamine earlier that day.

Dearing survived the gunshot wound and is now in the detention facility. Dearing’s Public Defender Roberta McVickers said at the time that he was in “significant pain.”

Another officer who later came to the scene stayed with Rubey, and said in the report his eyes were nearly shut because of the pepper spray.

Police spoke to multiple witnesses in the surrounding area, including one witness who was in the driveway of Enterprise Rent-A-Car and saw the officer bring up his gun and the flash of the muzzle.

The released report does not include detailed interviews with Rubey or Dearing with their responses about the specifics of the incident.


©2019 The Arizona Daily Sun (Flagstaff, Ariz.)