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Cop killer executed early this morning

McALESTER, Okla. (AP) -- Oklahoma City police officers hugged outside the prison gates early this morning at the news of Ronald Keith Boyd's final breath for the 1986 killing of an officer on duty.

Boyd, 43, was pronounced dead at 12:21 a.m., shortly after receiving a lethal dose of drugs at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

It had been 14 years since Master Patrolman Richard Oldham Riggs was killed while on patrol.

"Fallen officers are still part of the family," said Oklahoma City police Lt. Dennis Ross, who was among those who gathered outside the prison.

Minutes before his death, Boyd turned to his family and said he loved them.

"I'm all right. I'm at peace with God. I'm fine," he said, looking at them through the glass windows. "Don't worry about me. I'm OK y'all."

Boyd gave several big breaths after the drugs began to flow. He took one final exhale as his eyes closed halfway. He was pronounced dead a short time later.

Riggs had been working the night shift when he spotted a van at a northeast Oklahoma City service station that matched the description of one used in an armed robbery earlier that night. Nearby, Boyd was talking on a pay phone.

As Riggs approached Boyd, the officer was shot in the chest and the abdomen.

Although fatally wounded, Riggs fired back. Boyd was arrested the next day.

Hours before the execution, Betty Riggs held the last picture taken of her son -- in his police uniform, smiling, celebrating his 32nd birthday a week before he was killed.

"I cry every day. Every single day," she said, her voice cracking as she held the picture in front of her. "I promised Richard as I stood over his coffin that I would live to see this day."

She was listed as a witness to the execution along with Richard Riggs' sister, uncle and three brothers.

"I don't know if there was any officer that was any more loved than Richard Riggs," said police Chaplain Jack Poe. During the night, some officers also gathered at the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police lodge.

Boyd had asked for his brother, uncle, two nephews and a cousin to be there during his death. Two spiritual advisers also were listed, said Attorney General Drew Edmondson.

"My thoughts today are with Officer Riggs' family and with the men and women who work diligently to protect and serve," Edmondson said.

For his last meal, Boyd requested catfish, French fries, plums and grapes, strawberry shortcake and a cherry Sprite.

He had claimed innocence in the murder during a clemency hearing in March. Boyd said a hitchhiker took a gun from his knapsack and shot Riggs. He also said there was no gunpowder residue on his hands.

Boyd was the fifth inmate executed in Oklahoma this year, and the 24th inmate since the death penalty was re-enacted in 1977 by the Oklahoma Legislature.

There are 140 men and three women on death row in the state.

Cynthia Ury of McAlester was among 100 death-penalty opponents who gathered in a circle outside the prison gates, reading the Bible by candle light.

"I just don't think we have the right to take a life," said Ury, whose son is a policeman. "I feel like it diminishes us as a society."
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