CHANDLER, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- Self-driving cars have sparked a lot of debate since companies started testing them in Arizona. In some Valley communities, people are expressing their distrust by using violence.
Police reports show two dozen cases of threats, vandalism or harassment against Waymo vehicles and employees since 2017 in the city of Chandler alone.
The records show people have slashed Waymo tires, pelted the vehicles with rocks and run the mini-vans off the road.
Ever since Waymo debuted in Arizona two years ago, the company says most people have welcomed its self-driving vans. “We’ve found Arizonans to be welcoming and excited by the potential of this technology to make our roads safer,” said a company spokesperson in a statement.
But there have been some notable exceptions.
Chandler police arrested Roy Haselton on suspicion of pointing a gun at a passing Waymo vehicle and its backup driver in August.
He told officers he hated the vehicles, according to police reports, and cited a deadly crash involving an Uber driverless vehicle in Tempe earlier in 2018. Haselton pleaded guilty to felony disorderly conduct with a weapon and is scheduled to be sentenced this month.
“He had medical issues but I don't want to go into that,” said Haselton’s wife in a brief interview Wednesday. Officers noted in their report that Haselton showed signs of dementia.
Haselton faces charges of disorderly conduct and disorderly conduct with a weapon. He is set to be sentenced Monday, Jan. 7
Since April 2017, there have been at least 23 incidents in Chandler alone where a Waymo vehicle was targeted. Several of the Chandler incidents involved repeat offenders; two suspects were responsible for 10 of the 23 incidents.
Among the incidents, a man on a bicycle pelted at least four Waymos with rocks in June 2017, another man threatened to shoot a Waymo driver who was stopped at a red light in February 2018, and someone slashed a Waymo tire in October while the driver was inside.
The latter two cases were closed because Waymo employees or supervisors didn't want to press charges, according to the records.
In a statement, Waymo said it supports drivers and engages with law enforcement in cases of vandalism or assault. A spokesperson did not immediately respond to a question about why the company didn't seek prosecution in several cases.
Waymo says attacks on its vehicles are extremely rare considering its fleet logs more than 25,000 miles on Arizona roads per day.