A jury of eight women and four men will have to decide if a Burleson man was suffering from medication-induced paranoia when he ran from a Denison police officer in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving in 2016 or if he was just trying to get away.
On Monday, Gary Cummings, 49, told jurors that medication he was taking in November made him think that people were out to get him. He said fear caused him to run from a Denison police officer who attempted to pull him over in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving.
That police officer, Ray Marshal, said he was driving on his beat in Denison in the area of Armstrong Avenue when he noticed a Red Chevy truck turn onto the road just ahead of him. He said the truck took the turn so sharp and fast he could hear the wheels squeal. That caught his attention and then the truck sailed through a stop sign. Marshal said he turned on his lights to pull the truck over, but the driver just kept going. He said the truck went through more stop signs and a red light through the streets in the downtown area of Denison before the driver eventually climbed out of the window while the truck was still moving.
The truck came to rest against a curb and no one was injured during the low-speed chase. However, the driver didn’t heed the officer’s commands to stop. The driver took off on foot, Marshal testified, and even attempted to get into a couple of houses. When Marshal caught up to the driver, who turned out to be Cummings, they struggled around on the ground and Marshal eventually used his stun gun. The officer said he stuck the gun directly to Cummings instead of hitting him with the wires because there was a danger that Marshal might have gotten caught up in the wires.
Jurors could hear Cummings screaming from the electrical shock when prosecutor Brett Smith played the video from Marshal’s car. The two were too far way to be visible in the recording but the officer’s microphone picked up what they were saying to one another. Marshal used what Smith referred to as “salty language” when demanding that Cummings comply with commands. Cummings could be heard pleading with Marshal not to kill him.
The repeated pleading not to be killed seemed a bit out of place considering that Cummings’ hadn’t done anything to directly threaten the officer’s life in any way. The state contends the manner in which Cummings drove the pickup made it a potentially deadly weapon.
Cummings’ attorney Jeromie Oney reserved his opening statement for after Smith had finished his short case. It was only then that the jury heard that Cummings claims to have been suffering from paranoia on that early morning in 2016. On the stand, Cummings said he had been injured at work twice that year and was on medication from both of those injuries when he drove up to Grayson County from the Burleson area. He said he had lost both of his jobs just recently because he believed that people at work were talking about him behind his back.
When he got to Grayson County, he said, he visited a friend he hadn’t seen in years and he started to believe that they too were talking about him. He said he thought he heard his friend say that his house was being raided by the police but they weren’t interested in Cummings. Cummings said he then thought he heard his friend threaten his life, so he ran out of the house. He got in his truck and was still running from that fear when the officer attempted to stop him, Oney said.
Still on the stand when the jury left Monday evening, Cummings is expected to continue to tell his side of what happened when the case resumes in the 15th state district court Tuesday.