MANSFIELD -- A man accused of shooting a Fort Worth police officer in the head told reporters Thursday that he had mistakenly believed that he was returning fire on a robber wanting to steal his identity theft materials.
During a 20-minute jailhouse interview with reporters, Stephen Heard insisted that officer Henry "Hank" Nava never identified himself as a police officer upon entering the bedroom where the shooting took place and that "I did not fire the first shot."
Lt. Dean Sullivan, a police spokesman, called Heard's comments "a self-serving statement."
"He has a right to speak freely and he has utilized that right, and if anything, it's a self serving statement and it's to be anticipated," Sullivan said. "Our formal reply is consistent with what we've said through and through. We stand behind our arrest warrants."
The warrants state Nava and two other officers, all wearing raid-type jackets with the word "POLICE" displayed on the front and back, had gone to a northwest Fort Worth mobile home in search of Heard. They were allowed into the residence by a woman, who told them that Heard was not inside.
When Nava opened a bedroom door, he told his colleagues that he had found Heard, and Heard then "fired several shots at Officer Nava," the affidavit states. Nava returned fire but was struck above the left eye.
Dressed in a jail-issued orange jumpsuit, Heard seemed near tears as he apologized to Nava's family, stating "I am truly sorry that the situation ever arose."
"Every waking moment I am praying for this man's life," said Heard, who, after talking to reporters, was later transferred from the Mansfield Law Enforcement Center to the Tarrant County Jail, where he was placed under suicide watch..
Heard said he had previously been robbed and had a gun close by on the day of the shooting because he believed he would be targeted again that day. He acknowledged that he had smoked marijuana and had taken some methamphetamines earlier in the day but said the drug use "didn't amount to anything."
Heard said he never heard the officers identify themselves as police at the mobile's home front door because he was in a bedroom with the air conditioning running.
"I was in the bedroom and I could see underneath the door (from) the light that somebody was coming in and I had no idea who it was," Heard said.
Heard said he had gone to the closet to find a jacket so he could leave when the door slowly began to open.
"All I seen was a gray shirt, his face and the weapon. That's all I seen," said Heard, who later added that he believed his life was in jeopardy at the time. "No one ever knocked on the door and said 'Police. Sheriff's department.' Nothing."
Heard said as the door opened, "I hollered no. They hollered something and gunshots rang out."
He said he had ducked down in the closet when the first shot was fired at him through the closet door.
He said he did not return fire until being struck in the chin by one of the first two bullets and falling out of the closet to the ground.
"They wouldn't stop shooting," Heard said. "It was the only thing I knew to do."
Heard said while fleeing the room after the shooting, he realized someone had been hurt after catching a glimpse of blue jeans by the door. "I know then something's wrong," he said.
Heard said he was looking through a nearby house trying to find a working telephone when a 26-year-old woman he described as a "little girl" stepped out of the room.
"I was going, 'Oh no man. Don't go out. Don't go out. They're shooting... Just stay there and I can talk them down."
Heard said he did not know he had shot an officer until talking with a negotiator.
"The first question I asked when I finally got somebody on the phone was 'Who was hurt?'" Heard said.
During the hostage ordeal, Heard said he drank four Heineken beers to calm himself down. "I let that girl out of that house and I made that phone call and that's it. I gave myself up and that's all I wanted," he said.
Heard disputed police suggestions that he may be a member of the Aryan Brotherhood or any white supremacy gang. Lifting his right sleeve to show off a black tattoo on his arm, Heard said he could only suspect that such allegations arose because of his tribal art tattoos.
Heard said while he "may reject authority sometimes as far as following rules," he denied that he is a violent person.
"I've been in some little high-speed chases for some Mickey Mouse stuff and things like that but it's never been nothing aggressive."
He acknowledged that he fled from Sansom Park police Sunday night, stating that a clerk at a convenience store there had called 911 after he accidentally drove off with the gas nozzle still inside his truck and despite his effort to return and give the clerk his information.
Heard said two women with him urged him to leave because police were on the way.
He said when an officer turned behind him, he hit the gas and drove away because he didn't want the girls to go to jail. He said he later jumped out of the truck so that the girls could get away and police would not find a computer inside his truck which he said contained "some incriminating stuff," specifically an identity theft program.
Heard told reporters he had only recently gotten into identity theft.
"I had really just gotten started in it and just now got everything set up to where I could start doing it," Heard said. "I really hadn't had a chance to put it into motion."
He said he believed the officer walking into the bedroom Monday was a robber wanting to steal magnetic paper used in printing counterfeit checks or possibly identity theft programs that he had.
"It's a simple mistake." Heard said. "I find out now he (Nava) was coming to arrest me for a simple parole violation warrant," Heard said. "All I had was a year on it. Anybody can do a year. Anybody."
Heard said he wished Nava had just identified himself when he came in the door.
"Nothing was ever said. Nothing was ever stated to me," Heard said. "I'm angry about that but I'm angry at myself that I even had a weapon in my hand."
Heard was then asked if he believes he deserves the death penalty should the office die.
"For that stupidity? I couldn't live with myself if that man dies," he said. "He's got two little (children). He's just doing his job."