HPD SWAT competitors carry on tradition by returning Texas trophy to Riojas family

Tom Kennedy

The HPD SWAT competition team followed a continuing tradition of the winning team in the annual state SWAT competition when team members returned the John A. “Rocky” Riojas Trophy to his family in San Antonio.

San Antonio SWAT Officer Riojas was killed in the line of duty on the night of Feb. 2, 2001. The 11-year SAPD veteran was working on an operation targeting property crimes that were plaguing the Alamo City’s Northwest Side apartments.

Officer Riojas struggled with a suspect and in the scuffle was shot with his own police-issued .40-caliber Glock pistol. The shooter, Manuel Garza, was convicted of capital murder.

In June 2014, the U. S. Supreme Court refused to review Garza’s appeal, which took exception to a lower court’s ruling that Garza had deficient legal help at his 2002 trial.

The SWAT Round-up Texas competitions have been held since the late 1990s, frequently hosted by the San Antonio Police Department. After Riojas’ death officials of the Texas Tactical Police Officers Association (TTPOA) named the trophy from the competition in memory of this brave officer.

One custom became automatic: the winner of the trophy would return it to the care, custody and control of Riojas’ surviving family, which includes his mother, his wife and the couple’s son and daughter.