HOUSTON - It was the first day back on the job for a Stafford police officer who boldly chased after three suspects after being shot in the face. It was also the day one of her attackers appeared in court. To no one's surprise, Officer Ann Carrizales made sure she was there.
Carrizales, who is temporarily working desk duty, was present Monday when Daniel Cruz went before a judge.
Cruz and his alleged accomplices, Freddy Henriquez and Sergio Rodriguez, were all charged with aggravated assault against a public servant.
The trio went on the run after the shooting, but all were eventually tracked down. Rodriguez was nabbed first, and after tips from concerned citizens, Henriquez and Cruz were caught in early November 2013.
It was around 3:38 a.m. on Oct. 26, 2013, when the Stafford police officer stopped to question three suspicious men in a car, all members of a notorious Houston gang.
According to investigators on the case, within minutes the passenger in the front seat, Rodriguez, opened fire and shot Carrizales in the face at point-blank range. Police said he also shot her in the chest, which could have killed her, if not for her bullet proof vest.
At that point, Carrizales went down but she was not out, not by a long shot.
"That's the warrior mindset, that mentality, that no quit, no surrender, ‘I'm not dying today,'" Carrizales said.
Bleeding profusely and in great pain, Carrizales got up and fired back, blasting out the rear window of the car and chasing the suspects for 20 miles.
The dramatic chase was captured on dashcam video.
How did she do it?
"I had a guardian angel on my shoulder who took those bullets with me," Carrizales said.
Carrizales has always been a fighter.
As a sergeant in the Marine Corps, she became the first woman to compete on the Camp Pendleton Men's Boxing Team. She also won a national boxing championship in 1999 and was ranked No. 1 in the U.S., for women in her weight class. She was also honored with fighting for the All-World Team.
But Carrizales said her toughest battles began when she was just a child growing up in an abusive home, with a father who beat her, her mother and her siblings.
"My father was very violent, and yes, we all suffered physical violence at the hands of my dad," Carrizales said.
In the Marine Corps, Carrizales was raped one night by a fellow Marine who broke into her room and attacked her in her bed.
But through everything, she has always kept on fighting, never giving up.
That fighting spirit is what allowed her to stand in the same room with one of the suspects accused of almost killing her.
A motion for continuance was granted Monday morning and Cruz's trial is scheduled to begin in late November.
Copyright 2014 by Click2Houston.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.