Family of Roger Wade (not named) - wife, daughters
Frasier, Margo (Sheriff)
Hamilton, Greg (Sheriff)
Lacey, Chuck (Deputy)
Ruíz, Keith George (Deputy)
laws, justice, and judicial proceedings
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SOLIS: Thank you for having us. We're in the office of Deputy Roger Wade, Mr. Roger Wade. Thank you for having us. Present in the room, my name is
Gabriel Solis and Tony Keffler is running the camera. I've already explained most of the consent process—
ROGER WADE: Yes.
SOLIS: --and about the project and the interview. Do you have any questions that I might be able to answer?
ROGER WADE: No questions whatsoever.
SOLIS: Okay. Well, I guess I just want to get started and maybe if you could give us a little context, maybe your educational background and maybe lead
into the evolution of your career and how you ended up as a Public Information Officer for Travis County Sheriff's Department.
ROGER WADE: Start with high school. I knew in high school that I wanted to be a police officer or work in law enforcement. The oldest of five children.
Mom stayed at home. Dad worked at a factory. I knew I didn't want to work in a factory.
WADE: My dad worked really hard, but I didn't want to turn the same screw everyday. And I wasn't real keen about working in an office, yet here I am. So I
told all my counselors I didn't want to go to college, I wanted to go and be a cop.
WADE: What I came to realize after graduating high school was not many eighteen year olds could be police officers, even though at that time voting age
dropped to eighteen. So I went into the military. U.S. Army Military Police. Was in the military for three years.
WADE: Once I got out of the Military Police, got out of the Army, I moved to Austin, and went to work at the University of Texas Police Department as a
guard. And then nine months later I got a job at the Austin Airport Police, at Robert Mueller Airport.
WADE: I worked there as an officer and I was promoted to sergeant. And in four and a half years I left there and came to work at the Travis County
Sheriff's Office. I've been at the Sheriff's Office since January one of 1985.
WADE: I've worked many, many different areas, but for the most part it's all been in law enforcement. Patrol. I was a field-training officer, child abuse
WADE: The biggest part of the time has been spent working in community outreach. I did community outreach for about six years where I was a DARE
officer, a crime prevention officer.
WADE: I was the coordinator of the Citizens' Academy and while I was doing all that the opening came up for Public Information Officer. The Public
Information Officer at the time was retiring. He was a good friend of mine.
WADE: He thought I'd be good at it, and so I put in for it as a fifteen-year deputy. And I been-- I was selected by the Sheriff and I've been
P.I.O. for eight years now.
SOLIS: What are some of your duties as the P.I.O.?
ROGER WADE: I coordinate all media activity for the Sheriff's Office. Set up press conferences when they're needed. I am the go-to person. I assist
media and the public in getting public information.
WADE: If a reporter has questions about a story they're doing, they'll call me and I'll get ‘em set up with whoever can help them in the Sheriff's
Office. I'm also the person that the Sheriff goes to if he wants to get some kind of message out to the press or the public.
WADE: And I'm also the one that gets all the weird phone calls from people wanting to know anything about government. I found out the other day I'm the—
I'm the one listed on three-one-one as the P.I.O. and I said, that's the Sheriff's Office P.I.O., not the whole city.
WADE: But I've been here long enough that I know where to go to and look for information and talk to people and find things. So people come to me and
say, "Hey, can you find out something for me?" And I'll track it down.
SOLIS: You knew Deputy Keith Ruíz.
ROGER WADE: Yes. I knew Keith. In fact, I knew Keith when we both were, while I was waiting for the job to open up here at the Sheriff's Office, I
worked a short time at the—what was it then? The Wyndham Hotel South at 35 and Ben White. Now it's the Omni Hotel.
WADE: I was working security there, waiting for this job to open. And I met Keith there. He worked security there as well. We got to know one another.
He said like, "My dream is to be a cop." And I said, I understand that and wish you well.
WADE: And I came to work the Sheriff's Office and then a few years later I'm in an elevator and here comes Keith in uniform. And, Hey, nice to see you.
When did you start working here? And he had worked in corrections for a little while and then transferred over to patrol.
SOLIS: And what— roughly what year was that you guys met and you worked at the Wyndham South together?
ROGER WADE: It was in 1984. October, November.
SOLIS: Right before you became—
ROGER WADE: Right before I became a deputy. I'd taken all the tests and had already left the airport police. I was gonna take some vacation and found
that the opening wasn't gonna come up quite as quick.
WADE: So I started working there as just a way to keep occupied while I was waiting, and earn some extra money while I was waiting to come to the
SOLIS: Well, I was wondering if maybe you could tell us a little bit about Mr. Ruiz. Maybe about yall's friendship, or just about his personality, his
SOLIS: Like we interviewed Mr. Cardenas yesterday. He had a lot of wonderful things to say about Keith Ruíz. I was wondering if I could just get
ROGER WADE: Well, anybody who met Keith could tell you a lot of wonderful things about him because he was just a nice guy. He always had a smile on his
face. He always talked with a grin.
WADE: Even when he was serious you had that— had that feeling that he was just a nice guy. It just felt good to be around him. He gave off that aura of
just being good and being fun to be with.
SOLIS: I'm not sure in what capacity you worked with Mr. Ruiz at the time of the incident. I know he was working SWAT. Were you a Public Information
Officer at that point?
ROGER WADE: At that point— I became Public Information Officer in June of 2000. And basically just jumped into the role without any training
whatsoever. There was some on the job training from the out-going P.I.O. And I was constantly calling him up after he retired.
WADE: I basically got a list of the fax numbers for the media in town, went around and met ‘em, and started to work. So it was a constant learning
process at that point. After I'd gone to P.I.O. School I found out that I'd been making a lot of stupid mistakes.
WADE: But everybody understood that and knew that I was just getting started and really helped me through making those mistakes. So, Keith was shot in
February of 2001. And if I had— I don't believe I had gone to a school or any training for P.I.O. up until that point.
WADE: So everything that I was doing was just on the job training, learning as I went along. And it was one of those things— you get a page, "Deputy's
been shot." And I don't— I was aware that there was gonna be a narcotics search warrant going to be served that evening.
WADE: But it was one of those things that— we hadn't had an officer killed in the line of duty in Travis County in twenty years. In fact, almost exactly
twenty years. And you just get complacent. You don't think that that's ever going to happen.
WADE: Hadn't happened in my career here. I was working at the airport police when the deputy was killed in 1981. And it was a deal that he did— he
wasn't killed immediately. He was shot and lingered in the hospital.
WADE: So it was— it was almost like you're working on the assumption that we were bulletproof and nothing was ever going to happen. And I can remember I
had put my pager up on the nightstand and went downstairs and was watching TV with the family.
WADE: And I guess the pager had been going off for a couple of minutes. And I heard some buzzing and beeping and went upstairs to get the pager, and
saw the page and just freaked and said, I gotta go. Gathered up all my stuff that I needed and hit the door.
WADE: And of course immediately the pager started going off while I was in route to the call. At the time I was living in— I'm still living in
Williamson County, but it was just northwest Austin up near McNeil and Parmer. And the incident took place in Del Valle.
WADE: So I was— I was driving down the road a pretty good clip, trying to get to the call. I can remember feeling— feeling terrible going to the call
because it was taking me so long to get there.
WADE: My law enforcement background kicked in and I didn't know what I could do, but I knew I needed to get there so I could help. And the fact that the
pager went off for a couple of minutes gave me a lot of feelings of guilt because I wasn't there instantly.
WADE: My wife immediately turned on the twenty-four hour news station in town and was watching the news and she said it was almost hilarious when I got
there because the reporter on the twenty-four hour news station said, "Roger Wade's here. We're gonna find out what happened."
WADE: I hadn't been at the scene but just a few minutes and I was going— turning around and leaving and going to the hospital. The sheriff had got a
hold of me and said, "Don't release any information at the scene. Come to me at the hospital."
WADE: So when I was leaving the scene, the reporter's saying, "Well, Roger Wade's leaving and we're not going to find out what happened." But I can
remember getting to the scene. I believe the suspect was being placed in the ambulance at that time and being taken to the hospital.
WADE: But I tracked down the incident commander, one of the lieutenants, and I said, "What have we got?" He said, "We have somebody shot." And he told
me who it was. He said, "And I've got the media set up about half a mile down the road, down 71, away from here."
WADE: The place where it happened was a— it was at a mobile home. And there's a line of mobile homes along the road. And the road comes off of the
parking lot of the old Del Valle High School.
WADE: In fact when you— there are two roads, and the two roads connected in the back, it was the parking lot of the high school.
WADE: So I told the incident commander, I said, Get the media. Send somebody down there and tell ‘em to come up here and put them in the parking lot. I
want ‘em to watch everything that we're doing. I want ‘em to see--
WADE: Go ahead, they're gonna be out of the way, but they can see what's happening. He thought I was nuts. But it gave us another visual record of what
was going on. And they need to know.
WADE: I don't want to— that was my philosophy the whole time, I don't want anybody to be second-guessing what we're doing because they couldn't see. Let
‘em go ahead and look. Let ‘em watch us scan through evidence and what not.
WADE: It's not hurting us, and eventually it will help us because we'll have that film footage to go back on and look at. So I was talking to him about
that and that's when I got the phone call from the Sheriff.
WADE: And she said, "You need— don't say anything. We're trying to get the family here to the hospital." I said, Well, can I say that somebody's been
WADE: She said, "I don't want to say anything until the family gets here. We're making notification of the family; they're coming from a little ways
out. Let's get ‘em all here before we say anything." And that's when I learned that Keith wasn't going to make it.
WADE: At that point I was in a daze. And basically instinct kicked in and I said— I just waved at everybody, when the line of press when I was leaving,
and said, I've got to go to the hospital. We'll release the statement from there.
WADE: And drove back to Brackenridge Hospital. Met with the Sheriff. Met with everybody that was there, and found out for sure that, yes, Keith had
WADE: And that's when I knew that I had to start gathering information, try to get as much information as I could about Keith, his career, try to put
together a press release for the Sheriff.
WADE: So I had my reporter's notebook and I started jotting down information and trying to formulate the press release, which in— on one hand it was, it
was kind of a natural thing for me to do -
WADE: but on the other hand, and it was— not only was it natural, it was kind of a way of coping with the situation, trying to organize everything. But on
the other hand it was just it was one of those things that— it was one of the hardest things that I've had to do as well.
WADE: I kept talking to people, talking to Keith's supervisors, talking to the Sheriff, trying to walk around. Of course, soon as I walked outside the
media's all grabbing at me saying, "What's going on? Can you tell us anything?"
WADE: I said, I can't tell you anything right now. I'm trying to formulate what we're putting together. But the reporters were coming up to me telling
me what their deadlines were. I knew— and I knew what their deadlines were,
WADE: but they were trying to emphasize the fact that, you know, "I got a deadline." And I really felt bad for the Austin American-Statesman reporter because
this happened around 9:30 at night.
WADE: By the time we were getting to the hospital and family was having a rough time getting to the hospital. Some of the family were— I guess a pretty
good ways away. And the Sheriff was adamant that we weren't gonna release anything.
WADE: But it was getting to be 11:30 and the newspaper was being put to bed, and they were saying, "We can hold ‘til midnight." And the Sheriff said,
"I'm not releasing anything." And I'm saying, We gotta— can we release something to somebody?
WADE: She said, "No, we're gonna do it all at the same time." So there was that other pressure. So we gathered our thoughts. The family finally showed
up. We made notifications. We had our victims services there for the family. We had ‘em there for us.
WADE: And the Sheriff said, "It's time." So I handed her my notebook and said, This is what I've prepared. If you want to make any changes, do so. She
was as much in shock as anybody else, I think.
WADE: And, well, I thought of it as a compliment that she just read off my notebook. It was a— I don't know that I did the best job in the world in
writing what she was going to say, but we came out, we addressed the press.
WADE: The Sheriff did the talking and I was there as her support. Then after we made that announcement— course all the media's going off and doing their
thing for a few minutes.
WADE: And we went back in and just had a sit-down meeting with all the sheriff's deputies, everybody that was at the hospital: the chief deputy, the
sheriff, everybody there. And we sat and talked. Kind of had a little bit of a debriefing.
WADE: And I told everybody that you know feel free to talk to the media as much as you want. Feel free to say, "I just can't talk." You can talk about
Keith. Talk about what a great guy he was. Don't talk about the case.
WADE: We've still got a criminal investigation we've got to do and we have to be professional about it. As bad as you want to talk bad about the person
that shot him, let's step back and remember that we are professionals.
WADE: And let's talk about Keith and not the case. So that's what we tried to do. And then after that meeting, I spent the next couple hours doing
follow-up interviews with media at the hospital. I went back to my office.
WADE: I think I got about thirty minutes of sleep, just falling asleep at my desk. And then at six o'clock—course it was the lead story and we was back
at the hospital talking to the media and doing the morning interviews.
WADE: It was right after that that I went home and tried to get a couple hours of sleep and the pager was going off constantly. So I was back out at the
scene at ten o'clock. And the Sheriff was there, too. Everybody was there. We were working nonstop.
WADE: Apparently, it had rained sometime after the shooting, so we were sloshing through water and trying to search for evidence through mud puddles and
everything, too. But I tried to stay focused on my job and relating a public and professional image for the Sheriff's Office.
WADE: And reminding everybody that this is going to be a long investigation and something that we— we're gonna have to work through. As soon as
everything cleared at the scene, I realized that I didn't want Keith's funeral to be marred with a media circus.
WADE: So that's when I jumped in and started trying to get my mind off the fact that I'd lost a friend and try to keep it on track with my job. And I
think I did an excellent job— because I didn't know any better.
WADE: I started calling all the media together, all the news stations came in and I said, We're gonna do this right. And we're going to— we're not gonna
have cameras shoved in everybody's face.
WADE: If people want to talk to you, we'll let them seek you out. But don't be going up and bothering people. We instituted a system where we had one
camera that was covering things and all the stations would get copies of the video.
WADE: News 8, the big twenty-four hour station in town, ran the funeral in its entirety. And I was real proud of the news folks here in town because
they did a great job. They gave us a chance to grieve, and let us have a little dignity while we were doing it.
WADE: One of the things that really upset a lot of folks was the fact that the District Attorney's office wasn't gonna seek the death penalty in this
case. But the— they didn't— it was almost like they didn't feel that Keith was worth it.
WADE: We all felt that— I won't talk for everybody - but I'll say that I felt that this guy didn't deserve— we knew he was guilty and he didn't deserve
to be around because he took Keith's life.
WADE: Looking back on it, I don't know that— I think that was just the grieving process that I was going through. Looking back on it, I don't know that
maybe the District Attorney's office did the right thing.
WADE: It's been a few years now and I've kind of accepted the fact that I had no control over it one way or the other. It wasn't my decision to make. It
was almost like, Okay, you made the decision. We'll just have to live with it, kind of a thing.
WADE: But I don't think— I just don't— I just don't know how to feel anymore. That's just one of those things that happens so we'll live with it.
WADE: Personally, I know the guys, I know every one of them that were on that team. Worked with every one of ‘em. Worked with them as deputy and now as
P.I.O. They did everything right. And Keith shouldn't have died.
WADE: The guy knew that we were going in to get him and his dope. And he knew who was out there. And he was shooting out there to try to keep us from
coming in. And he deserved everything that the justice system gives him.
WADE: And he's— he's been through the appellate process. He's been through the court system and we know he's guilty. I mean his attorneys tried
everything in the world to try to get him out of jail. Even to the point of say, telling everybody that he's inept as an attorney.
WADE: And it hasn't worked. None of those tricks have worked.
WADE: Comes down to the point that he stuck his arm out that door and pulled the trigger trying to hurt somebody, and he did. The fact that it could
have been anybody standing there, but it was Keith.
WADE: Keith was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and anybody standing at that door would have been killed.
WADE: It's like getting hit with a hammer right between the eyes. I mean, we are in a dangerous position when we get out there.
WADE: And it was— it was a terrible realization to come to.
WADE: We always talk about we wanna be safe, we want to get home to our families.
WADE: And you know I've been in situations where I've had to pull my weapon and one time I almost had to shoot some guy
WADE: —had a gun in his hand. Luckily he put his gun down and we were able to take him into custody.
WADE: But it— when you have those moments where— life is short and you realize it and it just— it's like getting hit with a hammer right between the
WADE: You have to reevaluate what you are, what you're doing.
WADE: But as I said, I was very proud of the press coverage and what they did.
WADE: One of my favorite pictures was a picture of Sheriff Frasier and former Sheriff Bailey were at the funeral, and she's looking up at him.
WADE: And it's obvious that they're talking, but the symbolism of the deputy that was killed in the line of duty in 1981 was under Sheriff Bailey's
watch. And the deputy that was killed in 2001 was under Margot Frasier's watch.
WADE: And the two of them standing there grieving at the same time was just a powerful, powerful picture.
WADE: Chuck Lacey was the deputy that was killed in 1981 during a— he had stopped to check on a vehicle, suspicious vehicle.
WADE: He didn't know that the guy had kidnapped the lady and was sexually assaulting her when he walked up.
WADE: And the guy shot him through the window and shot him— shot him in the throat and effectively paralyzed him.
WADE: And he died in the hospital several months later.
WADE: That was a tough time, too.
WADE: And I can remember as an airport police officer Sheriff Bailey getting a private plane and going down and picking up the suspect and bringing him
back to Austin.
WADE: He went down there himself. And we provided security at the airport for him.
WADE: But, it was just— this particular case was one of those deals where— I've known deputies that put them— put themselves in harm's way. And you
would almost expect them to be shot or get hurt. And nothing ever happens.
WADE: Keith was one of those guys who was careful, meticulous. He did everything right. He did everything by the book.
WADE: He didn't get in trouble. He was nice. He was fun to be around.
WADE: If you wanted to go out and— If you wanted to meet somebody who was just fun to be with and a cop too, you'd go see Keith.
WADE: And to have him struck down during an incident that is—
WADE: - he was a member of the SWAT team. They're the elite of the elite. They're the ones that you call when you need help—when a cop needs help.
WADE: And to have him being shot during this raid was unthinkable.
WADE: It was one of those deals, well why Keith?
WADE: You're thinking the whole time, why Keith? What did he deserve to do this? And he's got a wife and three kids at home. Why? Why?
WADE: And to this day we're thinking the same thing: Why?
WADE: I've got a desk calendar. I don't have it up in here right now.
WADE: My wife had bought me a desk calendar with trivia on it. It stuck on the 15th of February 2001. It's not been touched because that was— that was
the morning that we were all grieving and asking why.
WADE: So I think that's the tough thing— that people when they lose a friend or lose a loved one, you're asking why, but you're also the person had so
much to live for.
WADE: It was Valentine's Day. It was close to his anniversary. It was close to the anniversary that he worked at the Sheriff's office.
WADE: We try to put it to the back of our minds nowadays because we gotta get on with our lives and get on with our jobs and think about our own
families and what not. But it— the thought's always there. We're working in the Keith Ruíz Building now.
WADE: So, in that way, I was just thinking this morning about the fact that we're at that point. It's been a few years and we're at that point where we
may not celebrate the anniversary of his death ever again. Or wait until it's been ten years or fifteen years.
WADE: But we're celebrating every day when we come to work in the Keith Ruiz Building. Celebrating the fact that he was a member of our agency. He was a
member of our family.
WADE: And he and his kids and his wife, they'll always be remembered. They'll always be a part of our family.
SOLIS: Well, I was just going to ask you about the comment you made when we first walked in about, "you don't want to remember but you don't want
to forget." And I think you touched on that saying, "We've got things that we've got to focus on now."
SOLIS: But at the same time you don't want to forget him or his work. And I don't know if you could maybe speak a little to that?
ROGER WADE: Yeah we don't— you don't want to remember the pain of all that. But at the same time, you don't want to forget. You don't want to forget
Keith. And you don't want to forget his family. You don't want to forget the happy go lucky guy he was.
WADE: You don't want to forget that life is fragile. And at any given moment somebody could lose their life. You want to live life for every day as if
it were your last so that—
WADE: and it used to be a cliché, to me anyway, that everybody says, ‘Live your life like you're gonna lose it. Live every moment to it fullest.' And I
think that's what Keith brought to us was that life is fragile. It can be taken away from you at any minute.
WADE: You have to live each moment of your life to its fullest. Tell your family you love ‘em. Be with ‘em as much as possible. It's not all about the
job. I can tell you that— and my wife will tell you too— that I give too much to this job.
WADE: But I can remember being a patrol deputy and I was a field-training officer, and going to work with a hundred and three fever cause my trainee depended
on me. My shift depended on me.
WADE: I've got hundreds of hours of sick leave built up because you come to work and you do your job. Just cause you got a headache or something— you're
just gonna have to buck up and do it.
WADE: And I had hundreds of hours of vacation because I just couldn't seem to get away. Keith brought the realization to us that we need to take our
vacations, be with our family.
WADE: There is a— there are companies all around the United States that are struggling with this and they come up with the phrase, "Work. Life.
Balance." Yeah, we want you to work when you're here work hard.
WADE: But take the time to be with your family and your loved ones. I'm on call twenty-four seven as the P.I.O. I'm the only P.I.O. for the Sheriff's
WADE: So if I want to take some time off on the weekends, that's either carrying the pager or take vacation and go off and be with my family. And the
command staff's always giving me grief about, "Oh, Roger's on vacation again."
WADE: But you know what? I'm going to have fun with my kids. When my first daughter was born, I was working at the airport. And was working midnight
shift and was working.
WADE: When my second daughter was born, I was at home. I was with my kids. My— funny thing was my wife had to go back to work after four weeks because
she didn't have any time at her office, didn't have maternity leave left.
WADE: So I was at home with the kid for seven weeks. That was the greatest time I ever had. It was wonderful. And that's, I think, is Keith's legacy to
us is that he showed us that it's time to pay attention to your world and be with your family. That's what it's all about.
WADE: So, yeah we don't want to remember the pain. But we can't forget that. We have to remember the pain in order to motivate us to remember the good
WADE: And the fact that we're in the Keith Ruíz Building reminds us every day that yeah, come to work, work hard, earn your paycheck. But go home to
your kids and your family.
SOLIS: Well, is there anything else you want to say for the public record about Deputy Ruiz or about the incident or anything like that? I really
appreciate the story you've given us already.
SOLIS: It's like many of these oral histories that we conduct that are powerful because it's real experience. But is there anything else that you might want
Roger Wade is Public Information Officer (P.I.O.), for the Travis County Sheriff's Office. He was a friend of Deputy Sheriff Keith George Ruíz, an officer who died in the line of duty on February 15, 2001, while part of a SWAT team attempting to serve a narcotics warrant at a residence in Del Valle. In this interview, Roger Wade explains how he came to work for the Sheriff's Office, his work as P.I.O., and in particular his actions and feelings as on the night of Deputy Ruíz's death. In this interview, Wade also thinks out loud about his reaction -- at the time of trial and years later -- to the Travis County District Attorney's decision not to seek the death sentence in the shooting of Keith Ruíz, even though murder of a law enforcement official is a capital crime in Texas. Wade also describes Deputy Ruíz's personal qualities, the danger of law enforcement work, and the effects of Deputy Ruíz's death on his coworkers in the Sheriff's Department.
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Virginia RaymondRole: Interviewer
Gabriel SolisRole: Videographer
Susanne MasonRole: Transcriber
Gabriel SolisRole: Proofreader
North America--United States--Texas
North America--United States--Texas--Austin
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