Fort Worth police officer’s killer, sentenced to life in prison, dies in Texas hospital

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A suspected Aryan Brotherhood member who was sentenced to life in the 2005 shooting death of a Fort Worth police officer has died at a prison hospital, according to a state official.

Stephen Lance Heard, 54, of Texarkana, died Tuesday at Hospital Galveston, said Robert Hurst, a spokesman with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, in a Thursday email.

Hurst said TDCJ officials do not release prisoners’ cause of death.

Heard arrived in prison on Dec. 28, 2007, according to TDCJ records.

Heard was found guilty of capital murder in November 2007 in the killing of Fort Worth Officer Henry “Hank” Nava and sentenced to life in prison.

Nava and two other officers had gone in November 2005 to a mobile home in the 7000 block of Seth Barwise Street in search of Heard, who was wanted on a parole violation warrant. Nava was shot by the wanted man and died two days later.

Shortly after the fatal shooting, Bill Read, his patrol captain, ordered that Nava’s patrol car be parked at the corner of Ellis and 25th streets, and mourners left stuffed animals and notes on and around it.

Police officials said they did not have a suitable location to display the car and in 2007 loaned it to the American Police Hall of Fame & Museum in Titusville, Florida.

Fort Worth officers went to Florida to retrieve the car in 2019, and authorities have since parked it and left it on display in the Felix Street police and fire administration building lobby.

In May 2018, KayLeigh Nava, Nava’s daughter, graduated from Texas Christian University. She was 9 when he died.

She had a message for the daughters of Officer Garrett Hull, who was shot and killed that year. “I’d tell his girls that as a child, we don’t get a say-so in our parents’ careers,” she told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

“We don’t get a say how our daddies fight to save other people’s lives — but sometimes they can’t save their own.”

At the hospital in 2005, as her father lay dying, she wrote a heart-rending letter to his killer: “You are going down and my dad is going to Heaven.”

Since then, she and her brother, Justin, and their mother, Teresa, have hosted 5K runs and blood drives to help survivors in other police families.

This report contains information from Fort Worth Star-Telegram archives.

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