When suspected drug dealers shot Dallas Police Detective David Rodriguez 14 years ago, leaving him paralyzed, they may have ended his law enforcement career — but he never lost his street smarts.
"Once you are a cop those skills, those instincts that want to be involved to be in the middle never leave you," said Rodriguez, who cultivated his skills pounding the pavement as an officer.
So when Rodriguez, now a parapalegic, pulled his silver pickup truck up to a Dallas Jack-in-the-Box drive-through window Monday afternoon, the 60-year-old said he was at first frustrated with the slow service, but soon noticed the terrified look on an employee's face.
"She kept moving her eyes to the left. At that point I realized this is probably a robbery," Rodriguez said.
Inside, the alleged gunman — later identified by police as Royal Robinson,34 — had reportedly flashed a handgun at employees and asked them to empty out the cash register. He stuffed about $174 into his pockets before fleeing, police say.
Seeing the suspect running, Rodriguez pulled out of the drive-in line with his vehicle, which is specially outfitted to be driven by hand.
His cop instincts instantly took over. He called 911 from his cell phone as he followed the gunman. When the robber realized someone was tailing him, he drew a handgun and pointed it at the retired officer.
"He pointed it at me and he comes running towards me," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez threw his truck into reverse to block him; and Rodriguez says Robinson then took off and tried to carjack a man before fleeing into a nearby lot, where police found him cowering behind a trash bin.
Police arrested Robinson on two robbery counts and also arrested Harold Dillard, 24, who they believe was driving a planned getaway car.
The Dallas police force is bursting with pride over Rodriguez's actions.
But Rodriguez doesn't consider himself a hero.
"I don't like the term hero. I think I was just doing an extension of what I would have done if I was still active on duty," he said.
But his former colleagues disagree.
"All he has got is a cell phone, doesn't have the use of his legs, yet he is pursuing an armed suspect -- something that I couldn't imagine doing with out the ability to use my legs to retreat to seek cover," said Kevin Janse, of the Dallas police department.