Convicted Cop Killer Sentenced to Life in Prison in Dallas, Avoids Death Penalty
Dallas, TX – In April of 2018, Armando Luis Juarez murdered Officer Rogelio Santander and seriously injured Officer Crystal Almeida. He also shot a civilian, Scott Painter, and two other officers, Officers Delgado and Vasquez. This week, he accepted a plea deal, saving himself from the death penalty and instead being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The deal was that he plead guilty and wave all possibility of appeals.
Juarez had allegedly shoplifted inside a North Dallas Home Depot and was detained by a loss prevention officer (Painter). Officers Santander and Almeida arrived to take custody of Juarez. During the contact at some point, Juarez opened fire, striking Painter and both officers.
Juarez fled the scene and was chased by police in a pursuit. Before being taken into custody, he opened fire again on officers, striking Delgado and Vasquez.
Despite the Dallas County Criminal District Attorney’s Office initially saying they would pursue the death penalty, Juarez was evaluated and diagnosed as “intellectually disabled” by two psychologists. Because of this diagnosis, he is not eligible to receive the death penalty per the US Supreme Court.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Dallas County DA John Creuzot spoke reporters and said, “We did the best we could with the case. I’m glad it’s over. I think the families are glad it’s over. It may not be what they expected, but when someone suffers from an intellectual disability disorder the Supreme Court has said that they’re legally ineligible for a death sentence. So this was a better outcome.”
Unveiling of portrait of fallen Officer Rogelio Santander at Northeast Patrol Division pic.twitter.com/nrnkhQmTnP
— Angela Shaw (@AShawDPD) September 25, 2018
Officer Almeida spoke at the hearing and told Juarez that she was lucky to be alive. She said because of Juarez, she lost sight in her left eye, some of her hearing, suffered a traumatic brain injury and PTSD, among other things. She and Officer Santander were close friends, she said.
Almeida told Juarez, “The day you shot us is a day that will live in my memory forever. I remember everything that happened. I relive it every single day in my head. I am now completely blind in my left eye because of you and I will never regain my vision. Because of all of this, I can no longer be the police officer I once was. I will never get to hang out with [Officer Santander], see his awesome smile, hear his laugh or get to hug him.
“You are so lucky that you didn’t get the death penalty. I wish you would. If I could, for punishment I’d want them to take your eye, your hearing way just like you took mine. At the same time, I’m glad you get to rot in prison.”
President of the Dallas Police Association, Mike Mata, released a statement to reporters about the plea deal. He said, “Regarding the decision today to plea bargain Mr. Juarez’s sentence to life, we do not believe justice was served.”
Mata continued, “I do agree that those without the mental capability to decipher the difference between right and wrong should not be put to death, but I emphatically do not believe this was the case in the murder of Officer Santander. Mr. Juarez while attempting to commit a crime willfully and with full intent pulled two handguns killing an officer and critically injuring another and an employee. He should have stood trial.”
Juarez was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for Officer Santander’s death. He was also given an additional life sentence for shooting Officer Almeida, and twenty years for shooting Scott Painter. Further, he was given two life sentences for the shootings of Officers Delgado and Vasquez. The sentences were ordered to be served consecutively, which will effectively see Juarez in prison for the rest of his life.