An Iraqi refugee appears headed for trial in an Aug. 2 shooting that gravely wounded a Colorado Springs police officer.
A court-appointed attorney for Karrar Al Khammasi pleaded not guilty on his behalf, and a judge set a May 13 trial.
The defendant, who is accused of shooting officer Cem Duzel in the head, refused to come to previous court hearings, and although he was present in court on Friday, he seemed to continue his defiance.
Flanked by a half-dozen deputies, with the lower part of his face covered in a spit guard, Al Khammasi twice interrupted proceedings through his Arabic interpreter, asking the court to appoint him a new attorney and a new interpreter “through the Iraqi embassy.”
Fourth Judicial District Senior Judge Gilbert Martinez denied his requests, ordering that he continue to be represented by two Colorado Springs public defenders. Al Khammasi is charged with attempted murder of a police officer, assault with a deadly weapon, felony menacing and illegal possession of a weapon.
Duzel remains in rehabilitation at Craig Hospital in Englewood, which specializes in treating brain trauma, prosecutors said.
The five-year police veteran was responding to a call of shots fired near the U.S. Olympic Training Center when he was wounded in a gunbattle with Al Khammasi, according to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the case.
Duzel’s brush with death came six months after El Paso County sheriff’s Deputy Micah Flick was fatally shot while investigating a car theft ring in Colorado Springs.
Al Khammasi is an Iraqi refugee who appears to have lived in the Pikes Peak region for five years and had at least nine contacts with police.
Immigration officials sought to deport him in 2016 after Al Khammasi pleaded guilty to felony trespassing, but his removal was canceled after a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision invalidated the grounds for his deportation.
The federal appeals court found that how the government defines an “aggravated felony” — a deportable offense — was unconstitutionally vague, The Gazette previously reported.
According to witnesses, the shooting happened shortly after an Uber driver kicked him out of her car for being “touchy,” according to a September hearing.
Al Khammasi was also wounded in the gunfire exchange. Authorities say he threatened to kill some of the law enforcement officers who guarded him at the hospital, where he allegedly said that shooting cops was “what I do.”
The defendant remains at the El Paso County jail on a $1 million bond. He is next due in court on March 8.
Liz Forster contributed to this report.