An affidavit released Friday describes how witnesses saw the driver of a fleeing, stolen SUV hit and run over Wichita police Officer Brian Arterburn as he tried to deploy a tire-deflation device.
Witnesses at the Feb. 7 incident saw the stolen vehicle swerve toward Arterburn, the court document says. They said the driver appeared to intentionally hit the officer.
Immediately after the SUV struck the officer, a female officer fired one shot toward the SUV, according to the camera she had with her.
Arterburn suffered “a brain bleed, skull fractures, a lacerated kidney and numerous other internal injuries,” the affidavit said.
A police spokeswoman said Friday that Arterburn, a 25-year veteran, remains in critical condition but is breathing on his own.
“Each day he improves a little bit more, so the Wichita Police Department and his family want to thank all of you for your continued thoughts, prayers and support,” Wichita police spokeswoman Sgt. Nikki Woodrow said Friday.
The affidavit provides a narrative compiled by a Wichita police detective, based on witness accounts and investigative findings. It was provided to media Friday.
According to the affidavit, investigators found methamphetamine pipes and a substance that tested positive for meth when they searched the SUV.
At a hospital where the suspect, Justin Terrazas, was being treated, an officer heard Terrazas say something. According to the affidavit, it was, “Please tell me I didn’t hit that cop.”
Several hours later, Terrazas called someone from jail and said he had tried to miss the officer, the affidavit said.
Terrazas, 31, is now charged with aggravated battery against a law enforcement officer and other crimes.
How it started
The incident began around 1:05 p.m. Feb. 7. The affidavit gives this account:
Wichita police investigators had been watching a home at 1803 S. Santa Fe in a search for another man, not Terrazas. The other man was wanted for charges in a Sedgwick County District Court case.
While watching the house, they saw a black 2016 Chevy Tahoe with a dealer’s tag parked in the driveway.
They contacted the registered owner, Eddy’s Chevrolet Cadillac, 8801 E. Kellogg, according to the affidavit. Police were told that the SUV and license plate were stolen.
One officer saw the stolen SUV back out and go south on Santa Fe.
Another followed it in his marked police vehicle. The way the Tahoe was being driven, the officer thought the driver was trying to flee, the affidavit said.
The officer remained behind the stolen Tahoe as it went south on Topeka toward Kinkaid. The Tahoe stopped behind another car stopped on Topeka at Kinkaid, and the officer stopped behind the stolen SUV. The officer started his emergency lights.
The officer saw Arterburn go into the street from the curb, trying to put down vehicle “stop sticks,” it said.
The officer watched as the Tahoe “pulled away from him, going around the stopped vehicle, through the intersection, and then strike and run over Officer Arterburn.”
The officer pursued the Tahoe to 625 E. Pawnee, where it stopped behind RDK Machine Shop. The driver ran into the business, where employees and officers subdued him.
Police identified the driver as Terrazas.
A man driving south on Topeka told detectives that he saw a black SUV zoom in front of him. Police cars with emergency lights followed the SUV. The witness said he saw a male officer and female officer on Topeka near Kinkaid.
As the SUV approached the officers, it “swerved towards the male officer,” the affidavit said. The witness thought the swerve was “an attempt to avoid the ‘spikes’ or tire deflation devices.”
Another witness told police that she had pulled over after seeing a police SUV behind her with emergency lights. It passed her. She saw an officer get out of the police SUV and drag something behind him.
The woman then saw a black SUV approaching the intersection with police cars behind it with emergency lights on.
She thought the black SUV would stop.
Instead, it swerved toward the officer “and accelerated,” the affidavit said.
She watched as the SUV hit the officer and kept accelerating, going south on Topeka.
‘A single gunshot’
A third motorist described seeing the officer retrieve “something black” from the cargo area of his police vehicle.
He ran into the street at Topeka and Kinkaid. She realized he was carrying stop sticks.
She pulled over, and a black SUV drove around her, “almost hitting the rear of her car.”
“She looked up to see the officer standing in the middle of the street holding the stop sticks and yelling at the vehicle to stop.”
But the black SUV didn’t slow down, and she never saw its brake lights come on, it said.
“As the officer was hit she heard a single gunshot but did not see who fired it,” the affidavit continued.
The woman went to a female officer who was helping the injured officer and asked what she should do. The officer told her to stop traffic on Topeka, she said.
A passenger in the woman’s car said the the male officer “threw out sticks and pulled his gun out and made a motion for the SUV to stop.”
About nine hours after the officer was critically injured, Terrazas called someone from the Sedgwick County Jail, the affidavit said.
He told the person that “the ‘dude’ jumped out in the middle of the road while he was doing 120 in the street to put a spike strip down and wouldn’t get out of the way and Justin tried to swerve to miss him.”
Contributing: Amy Renee Leiker of The Eagle