Shoplifting report leads to police shooting outside Wal-Mart

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Police are searching for a man who tried to shoplift from a North Phoenix Wal-Mart store and flee the scene, leading to an officer-involved shooting.

Shortly before 8 p.m. Friday, two Phoenix police officers were investigating a shoplifting at the store on Happy Valley Road near Interstate 17.

During their investigation, the officers were advised of an unrelated shoplifting in progress. A loss prevention officer believed a serial shoplifter had returned to the store and was trying to steal speakers.

One of the police officers stayed with the shoplifting suspect they were originally called about and the other went looking for the possible serial shoplifter, who fled the store after seeing a uniformed security guard, police said.

The officer got into his car and followed the man south along Questa Drive. The man hopped a wall behind the Wal-Mart and the officer chased him on foot to a hotel parking lot, where the getaway car was parked.

The man got inside the car and closed his door as the officer approached.

The officer punched the driver's window several times, and the man started to back up the car with the officer's arm still inside, according to police.

Police said the officer freed his arm but was then in front of the vehicle, and the man put the car in drive and raced the engine. Believing he was going to be hit by the car, the officer reportedly fired one shot.

"We don't know if that individual has been hit but the vehicle was able to get away," Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson said. "Fortunately, the injuries to our officer are very minor at this time. It was just injuries from his hand or fist going in through the window."

The officer was treated at the scene by Phoenix firefighters for bruises and cuts on his hands. He was later taken to a hospital for further examination and treatment.

Thompson said the officer will be placed on administrative leave while the incident is investigated both criminally and internally, which is standard procedure for all officer-involved shootings.

The officer is 32 years old and has been with the department for seven years, according to police.

The suspect is described as a black man in his 30s. He has a balding head and weighs about 240 pounds. He was wearing a plaid shirt.

The man was driving a brown or gray car, possibly a Honda Accord or Civic, with an oxidized hood. The driver's window was smashed.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Phoenix Police Department.