Amarillo man accidentally shot by police speaks out about the shooting
Amarillo, Texas —
The man who took a gun from a man at Amarillo's Faith City Mission and then was shot by police on Valentine’s Day, talked exclusively to ABC 7 about what happened that day.
It was a pivotal moment in Tony Garces' life when an armed man walked into a church service at Faith City Mission.
“Everyone was running, man,” he said. “I turned back. Took my shirt off, getting ready for whatever.”
Whatever included grabbing a pistol out of the hands of the gun man after several other men forced him to the floor.
“I said ‘hey, hey I got the gun,’” said Garces. “'I took the gun away from him.' They (the police) said throw it down. I wasn't going to throw it down because it could have fired. It had bullets in it, you know. I didn't want anyone else getting hurt. Then pop, pop they shot me. I went down, then a puddle of blood. I thought I was a goner."
“Do you consider yourself a hero?” asked ABC 7.
“No,” said Garces.
“Why not?” asked ABC 7.
"There were other people there,” said Garces. “I just took the gun away from him. I got shot. I got the bad part. It's life.”
“Would you do it again?” asked ABC 7.
“In a heartbeat,” he said.
Garces said he was at Faith City Mission after four years in prison to turn his life around with the drug rehab program. Disarming the gun man gave him the opportunity to prove to himself he had changed.
“If it would have been the old me, I wouldn't have done what I did,” he said. “It would have been completely different.”
Now, he faces challenges to his recovery.
For doing the right thing, he now has got a huge medical bill, probably a lot of long term physical problems and it needs to be taken care of,” said Jeff Blackburn, Garces’ attorney. “The only reason he's got those problems is because they shot him.”
Garces and Blackburn are working with the city to ensure the medical bills are paid, but Garces hopes for one other item: More education for officers on deadly use of force.
"Train them better, man,” said Garces. “That guy didn't know what he was doing."
He asked to have the bullet taken out of his chest as a souvenir, a reminder of how quickly life can change.
“I got the gun,” he said. “I thought it was over. but they the cops shot me. The good guys shot me.”
He didn't get to keep the bullet, but he said his scars will never let him forget that day.