Irving PD chief says officer's Christmas Eve murder still felt 18 years later

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One of the so-called Texas 7 prison break gang members who murdered a police officer is scheduled to be executed Tuesday night.

Joseph Garcia, now 47, was convicted and sentenced to death for the December 2000 murder of Irving Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins.

The loss of Hawkins is still felt at Irving PD headquarters. He was the third officer to be killed in the line of duty, but the first ever for the department to be murdered in the line of duty.

"Eighteen years ago, this was an ambush killing of a police officer,” said Irving PD Chief Jeff Spivey. He said every year memories of Hawkins' murder come flooding back.

On Dec. 24 2000, Hawkins was responding to a suspicious activity call at a sporting goods store. As he arrived, he was shot multiple times and then run over by a gang of escaped convicts known as the Texas 7. 

"It was truly an execution of Officer Hawkins who had absolutely no idea of what he was driving into,”

Chief Spivey was a sergeant at the time and one of the lead investigators. He emotionally recalled the extreme pressures of solving the case. 

"That desire to want to catch the guys responsible for this is what sticks out in my mind every year that we go through this,” Spivey said.

The month-long manhunt led authorities to Colorado. Six of the seven convicts were captured alive. All of them were tried, convicted and sentenced to death in Dallas County.

Attorneys for Joseph Garcia say he should be spared because he didn't shoot Hawkins. The lead prosecutor on the case disagrees.

"In fact, the leader of the Texas 7, George Rivas, says it was Joseph Garcia that dragged that body out. And then he was shot one more time, a contact wound on the side that penetrated his heart and then drove over his body,” former prosecutor Toby Shook said. 

While the state couldn't prove Garcia shot Hawkins, shook said the law is clear that he was an active participant.

"This case, the Texas 7, perfectly illustrates why the law of parties is necessary in some circumstances,” Shook said.

Chief Spivey hopes the Hawkins case helps people understand the sacrifices officers make daily. 

"The men and women who do this job, do so, with that understanding. With the thought that I don't know what I'm going into but I'm going to be there because that's what my community asks of me,” Spivey said.

Spivey and a number of other officers planned to be in Huntsville on Tuesday evening as a show of support and to see that justice is carried out.

Garcia would be the fourth of the six members behind bars to be put to death.