Flagstaff, AZ – A seemingly cordial interaction between a Flagstaff police officer and a man with an active warrant ended in gunfire when the suspect blasted the officer with pepper spray, bodycam footage showed (video below).
The altercation occurred just after 4 p.m. on Monday, after Flagstaff Police Officer Nick Rubey spotted a man who he knew had a warrant out for his arrest, The Arizona Republic reported.
Officer Rubey pulled over on East Route 66 and got out to speak with 52-year-old Matthew Dearing, who was sitting on a bicycle, the video showed.
The two chatted peaceably while Officer Rubey provided dispatch with Dearing’s name, although Dearing did complain that police had been finding reasons to stop him every day.
Dearing said he was having problems with the brake on his bike, and they attempted to troubleshoot the issue for a moment.
“Do you got that BB gun on you today?” Officer Rubey asked him at one point.
“Nah…I gave that f–kin’ thing away,” Dearing said dismissively. “I’m not trying to get shot.”
“Yeah, that’s dangerous,” Officer Rubey agreed.
Upon questioning, Dearing confirmed that he had a knife on him and another on his bike, the video showed.
“Why you asking me all that?” the suspect asked.
“I like to know where weapons are,” Officer Rubey responded. “You’re usually pretty chill, but some people aren’t. I try to ask everybody. Keep it consistent. I don’t want to treat people differently, you know what I mean?”
“Okay, have a good day, sir,” Dearing said as he prepared to leave the stop.
Before Officer Rubey had even finished telling him that he was under arrest for a warrant, Dearing leaped off his bike and began to pull away.
“What for?” he asked repeatedly, as the officer ordered him to the ground. “What are you doing, -sshole? You just start trying to tackle me and s–t?”
Officer Rubey repeatedly told Dearing that he had a warrant and to get onto the ground.
“Hey, f–ker…get off of me, holmes,” the suspect argued.
Dearing managed to regain his footing, and angrily squared off with the lone officer.
“You’re gonna get sprayed if you don’t get on the f–kin’ ground right now,” Officer Rubey warned him.
Dearing ignored his last opportunity to comply, and the officer delivered a short burst of pepper spray to his face.
He continued to pull away, then reached for what Officer Rubey believed to be a knife.
“No! You drop that f–king knife right now!” the officer commanded, drawing his duty weapon.
“I don’t have a knife,” Dearing replied, just as he blasted Officer Rubey in the face with his own can of pepper spray.
The officer immediately discharged a single ground, striking Dearing in the neck, The Arizona Republic reported.
Dearing collapsed to the ground, just before additional officers arrived at the scene, the video showed.
Officer Rubey and other officers delivered emergency medical assistance while Dearing cursed at them and told them to get away.
Dearing was rushed to Flagstaff Medical Center, and will face unspecified charges once he is released, The Arizona Republic reported.
“I have visited Mr. Dearing at the hospital and he appears stable, though understandably in significant pain,” Coconino County Public Defender Roberta McVickers told the Arizona Daily Sun.
Officer Rubey, a two-and-one-half-year veteran-of-the-force, was treated at the scene for minor injuries to his eyes, The Arizona Republic reported.
He was placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is being investigated, as per policy.
You can watch bodycam footage of Officer Rubey’s encounter with Dearing in the video below. WARNING – Graphic Content: