'All Right, Warden, I'm Ready to Ride'

Texas executes Wesley Ruiz for killing Dallas police officer in 2007
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 2, 2023 10:24 AM CST
Texas Executes Man Who Shot Dallas Cop
This image provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows Texas death row inmate Wesley Ruiz, who was convicted of fatally shooting a Dallas police officer in 2007.   (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP, File)

Texas on Wednesday executed an inmate convicted of fatally shooting a Dallas police officer nearly 16 years ago after a high-speed chase. Wesley Ruiz, 43, received a lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas, for the March 2007 killing of Dallas Police Senior Cpl. Mark Nix. "I would like to apologize to Mark and the Nix family for taking him away from you," Ruiz said as he was in the death chamber, strapped to a gurney. "I hope this brings you closure." He never looked at Nix's relatives and friends, including the slain officer's mother and sister, who watched through a window a few feet from him, the AP reports. Ruiz thanked his family and friends for supporting him and urged his children to "stand tall and continue to make me proud."

"Don't worry about me. I'm ready to fly," he said. "All right, warden, I'm ready to ride." As the lethal dose of the powerful sedative pentobarbital began taking effect, he took two quick breaths, then began snoring. His 11th snore was his last and there was no further movement. Twenty-two minutes later, at 6:41pm, he was pronounced dead. Ruiz was the second inmate put to death this year in Texas and the fourth in the US. Nearly 16 years ago, Ruiz led officers on a high-speed chase after being spotted driving a car that matched the description of one used by a murder suspect. Authorities said Ruiz fired one shot at Nix when the officer tried to break the vehicle's passenger window after the chase. The bullet hit Nix's badge, splintered it, and sent fragments into his neck, severing an artery. He later died at a hospital.

Nix, 33, a US Navy veteran of Operation Desert Storm, had been on the Dallas force for nearly seven years and was engaged to be married. The US Supreme Court earlier Wednesday declined an appeal from Ruiz's attorneys to halt the execution. The defense had argued that jurors relied on "overtly racist" and "blatant anti-Hispanic stereotypes" in appraising whether Ruiz posed a future danger, an element needed to secure a death sentence in Texas. At his trial, Ruiz testified he was afraid for his life when he fired in self-defense on Nix after the officer allegedly threatened to kill him. He also said he believed police fired their weapons first. "I didn't try to kill the officer. I just tried to stop him," Ruiz testified. Ruiz also said he fled from police that day because he had illegal drugs in his car and had taken drugs.

(More execution stories.)

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