HUNTSVILLE, Texas – San Antonio police officer John Anthony "Rocky" Riojas was shot and killed in February 2001 while trying to arrest Manuel Garza, 20, following a foot chase. Riojas had approached Garza and asked for identification and Garza ran.
"I ran, that's where I messed up," Garza said during an interview from Death Row with KSAT 12 News reporter Paul Venema just two weeks before Garza's scheduled execution.
Garza told how the two struggled as Riojas tried to arrest him.
"He pulled his weapon and in the struggle, he's trying to get it back and I'm trying to keep it away, and it fired," Garza said.
Garza was convicted in October 2002 of capital murder and sentenced to death. He is scheduled to be executed Wednesday night.
Garza said he feels no remorse calling the shooting "an accident."
"To have remorse you have to kill somebody, and I don't think I did that," he said. "I think you have to have the intent and want to kill somebody to have remorse."
SAPD Sgt. Javier Salazar, who worked with Riojas, said that Garza did not kill "just somebody." Salazar said he killed a man whom Salazar called "a cop's cop."
"Rocky was just all out when it came to being a cop and fighting crime," Salazar said. "He was what I would call a silent professional."
Garza said although he still feels that Riojas' death was an accident, he has accepted his fate.
"I try not to ponder it too much," he said. "I made my peace with God many years ago."
Below is the full interview with Garza, separated into three parts: