US man executed for killing police officer in Texas

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A man sentenced to death for the murder of a police officer was executed Wednesday night in Texas despite suspicions of racism having tainted his trial.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed that Wesley Ruiz, 43, was pronounced dead from a lethal injection at the penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas at 6:41 pm local time (1241 GMT).

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Police officers chased Ruiz through the streets of the central Texas city of Dallas in 2007, believing his vehicle was involved in a homicide.

At the end of the chase, Ruiz fired a shot at police officer Mark Nix who was trying to break the window of his car with his baton. The shot killed Nix.

During his trial, Ruiz asserted that he feared for his life and fired in self-defense, local media reported. Nonetheless, jurors sentenced him to death.

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Ruiz’s last words were: “I would like to apologize to Mark and the Nix family. I hope this brings you closer.

“I want to say to all my family and friends around the world thank you for supporting me. To my kids, stand tall and continue to make me proud, don’t worry about me, I’m going to be OK. Alright Warden, I’m ready to ride.”

In the years that followed Ruiz’s conviction, his lawyers launched several unsuccessful appeals.

As the execution date approached, lawyers argued in an emergency motion that jurors relied on “overtly racist” evidence and “blatantly anti-Hispanic stereotypes” in appraising Ruiz’s dangerousness.

One juror had described him as “an animal,” “a mad dog” and considered Hispanics at the trial to be “gang members,” they argued in court papers.

Their case was dismissed at trial and on appeal and was submitted for a last-ditch reprieve before the US Supreme Court.

Ruiz had also joined a lawsuit brought by several death row inmates in Texas, who accused the state Department of Criminal Justice of extending the expiration dates of lethal substances used for executions.

The use of old drugs, they say, risks causing unlawful suffering, since the US Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.
The authorities insisted that their stocks of pentobarbital do not pose a problem.

The Supreme Court did not stay the execution, making Ruiz the fourth convict to be executed this year in the United States.

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