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Details released of Phoenix officer’s fatal shooting

Officers had no time to put on ballistic vests when the operation suddenly switched from a surveillance operation to an attempted takedown

By PoliceOne Staff

PHOENIX — Phoenix Police Chief Daniel V. Garcia spoke with the media about details surrounding fatal shootout that left both the suspect and an officer dead Tuesday.

William Ray Thornton was no stranger to police — having lived a crime-ridden childhood in and out of foster care then jail, and was being investigated by Phoenix police for the attempted murder of a man shot in the chest Feb. 25.

Detective John Hobbs and two other officers were on stakeout when Thornton spotted the officers and made attempts to flee, according to AZ Central.

Thornton fled in his vehicle, then crashed and opened fire on police. Hobbs, who was stuck by the gunfire, managed to fire back, killing Thornton.

Phoenix police spokesperson Sgt. Steve Martos said that when the operation switched from a surveillance operation to an attempted takedown, there was no time for officers to put on ballistic vests.

Martos said the detectives had not been wearing protective vests during surveillance, as is sometimes necessary in undercover work so that officers go unnoticed.

He also said there is no set protocol in situations in which an undercover officer who’s tracking a violent offender has his cover blown, according to the report.

“Your tactics are based not only on what you’ve learned but off experience, as well.”

The other detective, a nine-year veteran whose name hasn’t been released, was in stable condition Tuesday morning at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Garcia said.

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