Deputy shot in the line of duty home after a month in the hospital

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- The Maricopa County sheriff's deputy who was shot and nearly killed in the line of duty a month ago is finally home.

Ruben Garcia was released from the hospital late Thursday morning. Garcia was badly wounded in an overnight shootout with a suspect in a Peoria parking on Jan. 8.

It started with a call from a woman who was concerned about her ex-boyfriend. She reportedly told deputies that he was suicidal and armed with a gun.

Garcia eventually located Donald Miller Sr., and the two ended up in the Valero parking lot at 83rd Avenue and Deer Valley Road.

Garcia was shot several times as he approached Miller's pickup truck. Miller fled the scene.

While Garcia was being air-lifted to John C. Lincoln Hospital, Peoria police went after Miller, catching up with him less than a mile from the Valero parking lot. There was a second exchange of gunfire. Miller was killed. At this point in the investigation, it still has not been determined if officers shot Miller or if he shot himself, said Peoria police spokeswoman Amanda Jacinto.

Garcia is a 29-year veteran of the sheriff's office. In the hours after the shooting, Sheriff Joe Arpaio described Garcia as "old-school" and "tough," which he has certainly proved during his recovery.

It was touch-and-go when Garcia was first admitted to the hospital a month ago, but he has improved immensely since then.

"Ruben can hear from the ear on the side of the wound and can see from that eye," reads the MCSO website, announcing his discharge from the hospital. "He is still a little swollen on that side of his face, but is able to speak quite clearly even though his jaws are still wired shut."

Garcia still has quite a bit of work to do when it comes to his recovery. In addition to continuing physical therapy on an outpatient basis, he will undergo a follow up surgery later this month.

3TV requested an interview with Garcia, but was told that even though he is home, he's not up to it yet. 3TV's Steve Ryan hopes to talk to him in the coming days.

The shooting that put Garcia in the hospital for a month fell on the first anniversary of another MCSO deputy's death. Deputy William Coleman was gunned down at an Anthem strip mall by a man with an assault rifle. The suspect was shot and killed by other deputies.