Man charged in Fayetteville police officer assault surrenders

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Robert Dooley, 44, turned himself in to police Tuesday afternoon. (WTVD)

A man charged in the choking assault of a Fayetteville police officer has surrendered.

Robert Dooley, 44, was accompanied by a family member when he turned himself in to police Tuesday afternoon. That family member went with Dooley when they heard he was wanted in a Monday night assault against a female officer.

"We had an officer nearly killed last night," said Fayetteville Police Chief Harold Medlock during a Tuesday morning press conference. "And luckily she wasn't, but she was doing her job."

The incident happened just before midnight Monday at the Crescent Commons Apartment complex off Cliffdale Road.

The off-duty officer, dressed in civilian clothes, was notified by a resident that a suspicious person was trying to break into cars in the apartment complex parking lot.

Police said the officer, in her late 20s, spotted the suspect, put her police jacket on and confronted him. That man was later identified by the officer as Dooley.

During questioning, police said Dooley tried to side-step the officer, and when she blocked his way, Dooley pushed her down. During a foot chase to a nearby car garage, police said Dooley snatched the officer's radio off her.

"At some point, we lost contact with her," said Medlock. "The radio call tapes are a little bit chilling."

Medlock said Dooley slipped and fell, and the officer commanded him to stay on the ground. That's when Dooley jumped on the officer and began to choke her, said Medlock.

"At some point during that struggle, she was able to retrieve her handgun out of her holster and was putting it into his chest, and he felt that and got up and ran away," said Medlock.

The officer, who remains unidentified, was able to identify Dooley from a picture database of people who frequent the area, said Medlock. She had arrested Dooley in incidents prior to Monday night.

When a reporter asked Medlock about the officer's restraint not to shoot Dooley, he said the circumstances of this incident allowed it.

"That's what a lot of folks don't understand in this business -- it is a life and death instantaneous decision that officers have to make," said Medlock. "For whatever reason when she did what she did, this guy made the first smart decision that he made last night. That was to get off of her and get away. But certainly she was in fear for her life."

Police have charged Dooley with assault inflicting physical injury of a law enforcement officer, assault on a female and resist, delay, and obstruct a public officer. More charges are likely.

The injured officer is recovering, but is expected to return to active duty.

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