Iraqi immigrant, who shot a Colorado police officer, evaded deportation despite five-year crime spree
A man accused of shooting a Colorado Springs police officer in the head in a shootout early Thursday while free on bond was previously known to immigration enforcement officials.
According to court records, an Iraqi immigrant who reportedly shot a police officer in Colorado avoided deportation for the past five years despite being involved in a series of crimes.
31-year-old Karrar Al Khammasi was hospitalized following a shooting encounter with officers in Colorado Springs and missed his Friday court date following the incident.
The accused had left Colorado Springs Officer Cem Duzel in critical but stable condition, as of Saturday, after shooting him in the head early Thursday morning.
According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, Al Khammasi was known to immigration enforcement officials way before Thursday's shooting due to his nine previous clashes with law enforcement.
His first run-in with the law was for drunken driving in 2013. A month later, he was booked on charges of criminal extortion wherein he is believed to have threatened a man and his family, and set a car on fire, according to investigators.
The victim told authorities that Al Khammasi’s “behavior began to change when he came into money and was drinking and possibly using drugs,” according to an arrest affidavit at the time.
However, court records show that the immigrant was sentenced to two years probation in 2014 after pleading guilty to a lesser felony: first-degree trespassing of a dwelling. Al Khammasi was on an immigration hold that day.
David Simmons, a Denver immigration attorney of more than 30 years and a former adjunct professor at the University of Denver, said, “It sounds like he had a criminal defense lawyer who was aware of possible immigration consequences and negotiated that plea.
"It’s also possible that he’s a permanent resident and as permanent resident long enough that a single conviction for crime of moral turpitude wouldn’t trigger (deportation).”
Al Khammasi's criminal streak continued this year after being arrested in January for allegedly possessing a stolen handgun.
In February, he posted a $1,000 cash bail and was roaming free until the shooting that occurred on Thursday. His scheduled court appearance on Friday was with regards to the stolen firearm charge.
But it is still unclear why Al Khammasi was not deported in these five years, prompting many to put their conspiracy hats on.
The Iraqi immigrant was ultimately charged on Friday with attempted first-degree murder, possession of a weapon by a previous offender and felony menacing, reported Fox News. He is currently being held in prison without bond.
Officer Duzel is in a stable but critical condition and is fighting for his life. According to the latest update on social media from the Colorado Springs Police Department, he is said to be tolerating nutrients for now.
“Cem’s parents want CSPD and the community to know how much they appreciate the incredible outpouring of support,” a tweet read. “Please keep Cem in your prayers and thoughts.”