Suspect in cuffs stole 2 police units, survived 11 officers’ gunfire Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A man who crashed a stolen police vehicle, survived gunfire from 11 police officers and then drove off and crashed another police cruiser — all while wearing handcuffs in a hospital gown — is in no mental capacity to appear before a judge right now, his lawyer said Friday.

The chaotic chain of events involving at least five law enforcement agencies began when Gary Porter, already wanted on a felony theft warrant, was discovered passed out in a chicken coop on Monday, arrested and taken to a hospital for evaluation, police said.

Paris Police Chief Mike Dailey then took him to jail, and had stepped out of the pickup truck to escort him inside when Porter somehow slipped his handcuffs from behind his back, moved into the driver’s seat and drove off. The chief jumped onto the truck’s running board to try to stop him, but was thrown to the ground, authorities said.

A chase ensued, joined by officers from Norway, Oxford and Paris, sheriff’s deputies and state police in a mostly rural part of Maine about 48 miles from Portland, police said. They eventually deployed spike mats that blew the tires and caused Porter to crash into a ditch.

A bystander’s video captured at least part of the gunfire at that point: With his hands still in cuffs, Porter circles around the truck and jumps into another police vehicle in full view of officers. Shots ring out as he climbs into the second cruiser with his back to police and takes off again. The video shows him swerving and driving away.

Authorities said he crashed again a short distance from there. By the end, 11 officers ultimately fired their weapons, and Porter was struck once by an officer’s bullet. Police didn’t say that any officers were hit.

Maine State Police spokesperson Shannon Moss said initially, without providing more detail, that “officers confronted Porter and gunfire was exchanged.” That was in a statement on behalf of all of the law enforcement departments involved.

But the departments involved didn’t release key details of the confrontation, including whether Porter obtained a weapon or fired it. They also didn’t release information about the extent of his injuries. The Office of the Maine Attorney General said Friday that Porter was shot, treated and released from a hospital.

Porter’s initial court appearance on two counts of theft, assault on a police officer, escaping custody, eluding police and violation of bail was set for Wednesday, by video conference from the Cumberland County Jail, but his defense said the medication he was given made him mumble and unable to keep his eyes open. He had another opportunity on Friday, but his attorney Justin Leary, said he still wasn’t fit to go before a judge.

“I don’t think he’s mentally equipped right now to go forward,” Leary said. A mental examination was requested and Porter was scheduled to return to court on May 15.

The bystander who recorded the video of the roadside confrontation in Paris, Linda Marie Mercer, said she had arrived on the scene to see a truck in the ditch and numerous police vehicles alongside it. She said she heard gunfire and saw officers shooting into the truck. She thought the person in the truck might have been killed — the officers appeared to relax.

But the video shows what happened next: Porter, still cuffed and in a white hospital gown, ignored shouts of “put your hands up!” and climbed into an SUV that had been left with its driver’s door wide open. More bullets flew as he drove away.

Eleven officers are on administrative leave following the shooting, authorities said. It was the largest number of police officers to discharge their guns in a single incident in recent memory in the state, said Brian MacMaster, a long-time investigator for the attorney general’s office, who’s now retired after a career that began in 1969.

It’s standard practice for officers to be placed on administrative leave after using deadly force in Maine. Officers are generally off duty for about a month before being evaluated and allowed to return, MacMaster said.

By Patrick Whittle and David Sharp, Associated Press