Exclusive: Tulsa Police Officer Relives Deadly Shooting

Thursday, May 5th 2011, 9:12 pm
By: News On 6

Lori Fullbright, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Two weeks and four days ago, Tulsa police officer Adam Dawson shot and killed a suspect who pulled a gun on him during a traffic stop.

4/19/2011 Related Story: Tulsa Police: Dead Gang Member's Gun Traced To Detroit Police

Adam has only been on the department four years and even though he's been cleared by the DA and is back on duty, that night has changed him.

He talked exclusively to News on six crime reporter Lori Fullbright.

Many people think a police shooting is like what you see in movies like Bad Boys or Lethal Weapon, but that's not how it is at all. Officers don't often talk about it, but having to kill someone, affects them deeply.

Officer Adam Dawson grew up in Tulsa and loves police work. He's been in plenty of dangerous situations in the past four years, but nothing like what he faced April 17th.

"It's very very fast, very close, very personal and very dark," he said.

He stopped a car that was driving erratically, running red lights and speeding. The driver jumped out with a gun and came straight at Adam.

"I remember vividly he puffed up his chest, put his chin in the air and was walking into a robotic fashion. I mean, you know, I was scared," he said.

Adam fired and killed Lakeith Roland. The entire thing happened in less than four seconds. He reacted solely on training and instinct and even though he did everything by the book, it's tough.

"I didn't feel good about what happened at all," he said. "It's a terrible thing, the loss of a human life is tragic, no matter how you look at it."

Adam says it's not like Hollywood portrays it. There's no witty dialogue between you and the suspect, no moving on to the next crime right afterward.

He faced a criminal investigation and was cleared and still faces an internal investigation and a shooting review board, where every decision in that split second, will be picked apart.

"These incidents take their toll on you," he said. "They impact you down to your core."

Back on the job, Adam is taking it one day at a time. He'll still go after bad guys, but says there's a difference between understanding you could be killed at work and actually going through a life and death moment on the job and he'll be even more aware of his safety.

"It takes an instance like this to make you realize I'm not invincible," he said. "That could've been me as easily as it was him, you know."

Adam says his training was critical, because he remembers thinking, ‘I need to get my gun' and realizing it was already in his hand.