Phoenix-area deputy beaten by suspect succumbs to injuries

By Jill Ryan
Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, October 12, 2021 - 10:56am
Audio icon Download mp3 (580.64 KB)
Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
Juan Miguel Ruiz

A Maricopa County sheriff’s deputy who suffered grave injuries at the hands of a man he had just arrested died Monday, authorities said.

Deputy Juan “Johnny” Ruiz succumbed to injuries he suffered on Saturday, Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said in a statement. 

“His loss is a tragedy for our profession and our community,” Penzone said. “I am committed to pursuing justice for Deputy Ruiz to the fullest extent of the law against the suspect. Nothing less is acceptable.”

Sgt. Calbert Gillett of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said in an email "Ruiz was taken off life support yesterday (Monday)."

The family plans to donate his organs. “He will be making a sacrifice so that others may benefit,” Penzone said.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags at all state buildings be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset Tuesday to honor Ruiz.

The man accused of attacking Ruiz remained hospitalized in stable condition Monday after getting in a gunfight with a homeowner. Authorities anticipate additional charges for the suspect.

The ordeal started Saturday morning when Ruiz arrested the suspect, who had outstanding warrants for his arrest, and was transferring the suspect into a holding cell at a substation in suburban Avondale, which is about 18 miles west of Phoenix.

Police say the uncuffed suspect beat Ruiz, who tried to radio for assistance several times. Authorities say the suspect took keys from a bleeding and unconscious Ruiz and fled in a deputy vehicle, crashing through a gate.

Deputies found Ruiz after reports came in of someone suspicious driving a police vehicle. He was rushed to a hospital.

A manhunt for the suspect ensued.

Later in the day, deputies responded to a shooting at a home in Tonopah about 52 miles west of Phoenix. Deputies determined a man fired on the homeowner, Penzone said. The homeowner then shot back and hit the man three times. One bullet resulted in a serious wound.

Deputies attempting first aid recognized the suspect's tattoos, Penzone said.

Investigators say the suspect and the homeowner were known to each other but did not say the nature of their relationship.

The suspect was released from an Arizona prison in December after serving time for attempted child molestation, authorities said. It was not known Monday whether the suspect had retained an attorney who could speak for the suspect.

Investigators were also searching for a second vehicle they said the suspect stole and abandoned while hiding from authorities.

Ruiz was with the Sheriff's Office for three years.

Law Enforcement