A death row prisoner in Texas told his family ‘don’t worry about me, I’m ready to fly’ in his final words before being executed.
Wesley Ruiz, 43, fatally shot a Dallas Police Senior Corporal Mark Nix nearly 16 years ago on March 2007 after a high-speed chase.
Ruiz, who was Hispanic, received a lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville yesterday evening.
‘I would like to apologise to Mark and the Nix family for taking him away from you,’ Ruiz said as he lay strapped to a gurney in the death chamber according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
‘I hope this brings you closure.’
Never making eye contact with the victim’s family or friends only a few feet away from him, Ruiz thanked his loved ones for supporting him.
To the truck driver’s children, he called on them to ‘stand tall and continue to make me proud’.
‘Don’t worry about me,’ Ruiz added, ‘I’m ready to fly. All right, warden, I’m ready to ride.’
Ruiz was injected with pentobarbital, a sedative used to anaesthetize or euthanise animals and slows down brain function in humans.
Twenty-two minutes later, at 6:41pm, he was pronounced dead.
Ruiz was the second inmate this year put to death in Texas, which carries out more executions than any other state, and the fourth in the US.
Nix, 33, was a US Navy veteran of Operation Desert Storm and had worked for the Dallas force for nearly seven years – he was engaged to be married.
But a breakneck chase between Ruiz and Nix was sparked after he was spotted driving a vehicle that matched the description of one used by a murder suspect.
His car eventually slid off the side of the road, court documents said, and Nix beelined over.
Ruiz fired one shot at Nix when the officer tried to shatter the vehicle’s passenger window with a police baton, authorities said.
The bullet bounced off Nix’s badge, shattering it into fragments with one stabbing into his neck, severing an artery. He died later in the hospital.
At his trial, Ruiz claimed the officer had already drawn a firearm at him.
Ruiz testified: ‘I didn’t try to kill the officer. I just tried to stop him.’
The US Supreme Court declined yesterday an urgent appeal from Ruiz’s lawyers to postpone the execution.
His legal team argued that jurors decided he posed a future threat based on ‘overly racist’ and ‘blatant anti-Hispanic stereotypes’.
One juror described Ruiz as ‘an animal’, ‘a mad dog’ and considered Hispanics at the trial to be ‘gang members’, his defence said.
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot found no such bias in the jurors’ appraisal, however, according to court documents filed late Tuesday.
Ruiz had also joined a lawsuit brought by several death row inmates in Texas who have accused the state Department of Criminal Justice of stretching the expiration dates of lethal drugs used for executions.
The kinds of drugs used to executive people on death row are one of the many controversies around capital punishment.
Some American drug-makers have discontinued substances over the years used in executions which European companies refuse to make if they’re used to kill people, such as sodium thiopental – this is why Texas switched to pentobarbital.
The suit accused Texas of extending use-by-dates of pentobarbital, now the only drug used in executions in the state.
According to the Texas Tribune, Ruiz and other condemned prisoners argued that the state prison system should not be allowed to change drug expiration dates.
They claim the use of old drugs violates the eighth amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, as inmates may experience pain during death.
The authorities have insisted their stock of pentobarbital does not pose a problem.
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