Eyewitness describes moment driver hit Houston police officer in traffic strop

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The man who plowed into a Houston police officer during a traffic stop didn't even brake, according to the driver who was initially pulled over.

Patrick Riggins was driving a vehicle early Wednesday morning that HPD suspected as stolen. Officer Nestor Garcia initiated the stop on the Southwest Freeway near Greenbriar.

As Riggins watched the officer approach his car, he was hit.

"He hadn't even gotten a chance to say anything," Riggins told Eyewitness News. "I was stunned because it came out of nowhere and then I didn't know what to expect next."

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Garcia, on the job only a year, was critically injured. Police said Robert Zimmerman, 79, was behind the wheel of the vehicle that hit the officer.

Riggins said Zimmerman never hit the brakes.

"You could tell he had been drinking or something like that," Riggins said.

Investigators are waiting for the results of toxicology tests to determine whether Zimmerman was impaired. He is charged with intoxication assault of a public servant.

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"Thank God, despite this man's conduct, our officer is still alive. It was very preventable," HPD Chief Art Acevedo told reporters.

For hours, Riggins, who police confirm was later released, worried for Garcia and could not help but feel some blame.

"That's all I kept saying was, if I wouldn't have been stopped, he wouldn't be in the predicament, said Riggins. "My main concern was he okay."

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