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22-Year-Old Phoenix Cop Shot Eight Times, Hit In Head, Remains On Life Support

Phoenix, AZ – A 22-year-old Phoenix police officer remains in critical condition after he was shot eight times, including once in the head, on Tuesday.

Officers responded to the area of 19th Avenue and Camelback Road for reports of vehicles doing donuts and speeding at about 2 a.m. on Dec. 14, KNXV reported.

When responding officers arrived to the scene, there were no vehicles there, just skid marks and smoke in the air.

Shortly thereafter, police received another call about the same suspect vehicles near 15th Avenue and Camelback Road, KNXV reported.

Officers spotted a black Dodge Charger pulling into a parking lot in the area and followed it.

Charging documents said the officers saw 24-year-old Essa Williams get out of the car and jump the fence into an apartment complex, KNXV reported.

The officers said they could see a gun case inside the Charger, according to the affidavit.

Police set up a perimeter and began searching for the suspect, KNXV reported.

Phoenix Police Officer Tyler Moldovan found Williams hiding on a covered patio a few minutes later.

Court documents said that Williams was on his cell phone telling someone that he was going to jail when Officer Moldovan approached, KNXV reported.

Officer Moldovan asked Williams if he had any weapons and the suspect answered “no.”

Then Williams pulled a gun from his waistband, pointed it at the officer, and started firing, KNXV reported.

Officer Moldovan fell to the ground after the first shot but Williams loomed over him and continued firing at the wounded officer.

Charging documents said that after Williams shot Officer Moldovan multiple times, he jumped out from the patio, dropped his gun, and began trying to pull the wounded officer’s gun from his holster, KNXV reported.

That was when another officer arrived and saw Williams standing over the wounded officer.

Charging documents said the second officer saw Williams yank harder at the downed officer’s holster, trying to take his weapon, KNXV reported.

William threw himself on the ground as the second officer attempted to arrest him.

He resisted arrest and tried to get away, but a third officer arrived on the scene and was able to help the second officer get Williams into handcuffs, KNXV reported.

Officials said that no officers fired their weapons during the incident, the Arizona Republic reported.

Police found another handgun with an extended magazine on the patio where Williams had been hiding, KTVK reported.

Once in custody, Williams claimed someone else had shot the wounded officer and begged police to shoot him.

Court documents showed that Officer Moldovan was rushed to the hospital in critical condition with at least eight gunshot wounds, including one to the head, KTVK reported.

The officer was unresponsive and had to be put on life support, according to charging documents.

Williams was charged with multiple crimes that included attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, possession of a weapon by a prohibited person, aggravated assault, and resisting arrest, KNXV reported.

He was booked into the Maricopa County Jail, the Arizona Republic reported.

Court records showed that Williams went to prison for three years in 2017 for armed robbery, aggravated assault, and endangerment committed in 2014 and 2015.

Arizona Department of Corrections records showed he was released from prison in April of 2020, the Arizona Republic reported.

As a convicted felon, he was banned from having a gun, KNXV reported.

Williams was being held on a $3 million cash bond for shooting Officer Moldovan.

But he was also held without bond for violating his probation, KNXV reported.

Williams is next scheduled to appear before a judge on Dec. 21.

Officer Moldovan remained on life support at a Phoenix hospital, KTVK reported.

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said the young officer was “fighting for his life,” the Arizona Republic reported.

Chief Williams said doctors were “doing everything possible they can to save him.”

“Tyler is doing exactly what we expect our police officers to do and that is to continue to fight,” the police chief added.

She said Officer Moldovan graduated from the police academy in March and had only recently finished his training and been cut loose to patrol by himself, the Arizona Republic reported.

Chief Williams said the rookie officer had celebrated his 22nd birthday in November.

“He is married, and is loved by his wife, parents, brother and extended family,” Phoenix Police Sergeant Ann Justus told the Arizona Republic.

Police said the investigation into the incident was ongoing as investigators “piece together the remaining details of this shooting.”

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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