Officers involved in shootout testify in trial of Anthony Scott Axton
KINGMAN – Law enforcement testimony dominated the trial of Anthony Scott Axton on Tuesday, as Kingman Police Department officers who were in engaged in a shootout with Axton the night of July 1, 2018 took the stand.
Axton, 33, of Kingman, is alleged to have committed an armed robbery of the Dollar General store at 3665 E. Andy Devine Ave. that night in July 2018. Day two of the trial opened with testimony from a shift leader at the store, who told the court a masked subject wearing a tan hat and black clothes entered the Dollar General about 10 minutes before closing. He also said the subject carried a pistol on his hip. Customers inside the store were instructed to sit on the floor, he noted.
The employee said the subject approached him and instructed him to open the safe. Those instructions were followed. However, due to the timing protocols for opening the safe, the subject did not receive the full amount of cash within it. The employee, a shift leader, said the subject left before the second part of the safe could be opened.
At around this time, local law enforcement officers say they began to hear a “hot tone” coming from their radios. The loud beep is intended to catch everyone’s attention. The night of July 1, that hot tone was in relation to a robbery in progress.
Officer Kenneth Morris of the Kingman Police Department testified that he responded to the area after hearing the call come over the radio. He observed a vehicle which matched the description of the one sought by law enforcement, a white pickup truck.
He said he could see that the passenger’s side door was open, and that a figure was standing on that side of the truck. He then approached the vehicle in a “T-bone style fashion,” and engaged his sirens.
That’s when he saw the figure pop out over the bed of the truck holding a rifle.
“Then I just remember hearing ‘pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,’ which I processed to be gunfire,” the officer said, noting that his vehicle was still skidding to a stop when the firing began and that he had to roll from the vehicle to take cover.
“Based on the training, I’ve always understood the longer you stay in your car, the more it becomes your coffin,” the officer said of the importance of exiting the vehicle.
Once he regained his footing, he took cover behind his law enforcement vehicle. He said the shooting seemed continuous from the time he arrived to the time he took cover. That’s when KPD Officer Adam Simonsen arrived and took cover behind his own vehicle.
On Wednesday, Detective William Dixon with the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office spoke to the jury about an interview he conducted with Axton after his release from the hospital. Because KPD officers were involved in the shooting, the sheriff’s office handled the case.
Dixon explained Axton said in the interview that he was being hassled by a group of people with a rifle as he was leaving the store and going to his truck, and that they would not let him leave. They eventually left around the time KPD officers arrived. Axton said he believed the vehicle coming toward him was filled with the people who had been hassling him, and not law enforcement. According to Dixon, Axton said he began shooting at the engine block in an attempt to disable the vehicle.
During the incident, Morris said he heard what sounded like someone reloading a firearm. He then exited from cover and saw the rifle come over the bed of the truck, this time aimed and fired in the direction of Simonsen.
Morris said the first few shots he took with his firearm were in self-defense. When the subject had his attention turned to Morris’ fellow officer, Morris realized that was his chance to “return fire in a calculated fashion.”
He said he took three or four of those shots, at which time he heard an “expletive of pain” from the area of the shooter. He then heard the shuffling of feet on gravel, which he attributed to someone trying to gain an advantage on his position. However, after checking the immediate area, the subject could not be found.
Calls began to come over the radio that said a subject was on the move, with Simonsen indicating he observed a subject running through a nearby field. Officer Robert Mosby of the Kingman Police Department was the one who eventually located the on-foot subject.
He told the court that he saw the subject running, pulled over and exited his vehicle. He said he identified himself as a police officer and instructed the subject to stop and drop the rifle. Those instructions were not followed.
Mosby pursued, and eventual deployed his Taser twice. However, neither attempt was successful and the subject continued moving until the officer caught up and tackled the suspect to the ground. At that time, Mosby noticed the man’s arms were covered in blood. That blood was traced to a face wound on the subject in the area of the jaw. He said that’s when he observed that two of the four Taser probes had been embedded in body armor allegedly worn by Axton.
The matter of identifying the subject as Axton saw some discrepancy Tuesday. Mosby told the court that he followed the subject, who was placed in an ambulance and taken to the hospital to be seen for his injuries. There, he and another officer took turns sitting in the hospital room. He said once the subject had been treated, he was able to identify him.
Mosby described the appearance of Axton and indicated he was sitting at the defendant’s table when asked if the subject was in the courtroom Tuesday. But Axton’s attorney, Gregory Pridham, said in his cross examination of Mosby that the witness said he could not identify the subject during pretrial interviews. During the pretrial interview Mosby said he didn’t recall going into the hospital room, Pridham told the court.
Axton’s trial continued Wednesday, Oct. 9.