Texas suspends execution of man convicted of police killing

Suspicions of racism had tainted his trial. An American who has been sentenced to death for the murder of a police officer is to be executed on Wednesday evening in Texas. Unless the US Supreme Court grants him a last-minute reprieve, Wesley Ruiz, a 43-year-old Hispanic man, will receive a lethal injection at Huntsville Penitentiary.

In 2007, in Dallas, he was chased by police who suspected his vehicle of being involved in a murder. At the end of a chase, he had fired a shot at a policeman who was trying to break open the window of his car with his baton. The bullet had killed this agent. During his trial, Wesley Ruiz had claimed to have feared for his life and shot in a gesture of “self-defense”, the local press recalls. The jury still sentenced him to death.

An “animal”, “a mad dog”

In the following years, his lawyers unsuccessfully filed several appeals to challenge the sentence. As the execution date approached, they filed an emergency motion, arguing that jurors had invoked “overtly racist” elements and “clearly hostile stereotypes against Hispanics” in evaluating Wesley Ruiz’s death.

One of the jurors had described him as an “animal,” “a mad dog” and believed that the Hispanics present at the trial were “gang members,” they pleaded in court documents. Their appeal was rejected at first instance, on appeal and is now before the US Supreme Court.

Expired lethal substances

Wesley Ruiz has also joined a lawsuit filed by several Texas death row inmates accusing the state’s prison system of allowing the expiration date of lethal drugs used in executions.

According to them, this risks causing unlawful suffering, as the constitution prohibits “inhuman punishment”. The authorities assure that their stocks of pentobarbital do not pose a problem. If he is not right, Wesley Ruiz will be the 4th convict executed since the beginning of the year in the United States.

Leave a Comment