PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputy Ruben Garcia is opening up for the first time about the shooting that nearly claimed his life.
The 29-year law enforcement veteran spoke to the media for the first time this week and said he’s still adjusting to the injuries he sustained that January night.
“I don’t feel regular. People say I look normal, but inside, I feel like I’m wearing a mask,” said Garcia.
Garcia responded to the area of 83rd Avenue and Deer Valley Road on Jan. 7 after a woman reported that her ex-boyfriend was suicidal and carrying a gun.
Garcia located the ex-boyfriend, 54-year-old Donald Miller Sr., and approached him as he sat in his truck.
Witnesses reported that as Garcia approached the vehicle Miller opened fire and shot Garcia.
Miller later died while running from authorities and firing at officers.
Garcia had to rely on the help of one quick-thinking witness to survive.
“I did CCC, also known as constant chest compressions. Pretty much what you do is keep blood flowing to the brain,” said Andrew Phelps, who used his life guard training to keep Garcia alive.
For his efforts, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Apraio has awarded Phelps with a Sheriff’s Commendation.
Garcia says everyone who has helped him along the way has his “total respect” and “total love,” adding that he’s eager to return to work.
“The people I work with, the people I serve, that’s what I love,” proclaimed Garcia.