Ruiz v. State

2011 WL 1168414 (2011)

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Ruiz v. State

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
2011 WL 1168414 (2011)

KL

Facts

Dallas police issued a bulletin for a car that was suspected to have been involved in a murder. Two days later, two plainclothes officers saw a car matching the description and called it in. Marked patrol cars began following the car, which Wesley Ruiz (defendant) was driving, and a chase ensued. Ruiz lost control and spun out, coming to rest facing the roadway and against a fence. An officer who had been pursuing Ruiz parked his patrol car so it was blocking Ruiz’s car, approached Ruiz’s car, and began hitting the passenger side of Ruiz’s car with a baton. A gunshot came from within the car, shattering a window and hitting the officer. Other officers responded by opening fire, and Ruiz was eventually pulled from the car, wounded and unconscious with the gun that shot the officer on his lap. The officer died from his injuries, and Ruiz was tried and convicted of murder and sentenced to death because under Texas law, killing a police officer in the lawful commission of his duties was a capital crime. Ruiz appealed, arguing that the officer was not acting in his official capacity because he violated departmental policy by charging Ruiz’s car and hitting the windows rather than using his public-address system to ask Ruiz to surrender. The state argued that an officer was acting in the lawful discharge of an official duty if he was in uniform and on duty at the time of death, even if the officer’s actions at the time violated departmental duties. Ruiz argued that by allowing a jury to select capital punishment even if the police officer’s conduct violated departmental policy amounted to an arbitrary and capricious imposition of the death penalty in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Price, J.)

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