It’s been six months since Jeremie Cummins says he was wrongfully identified as an escaped inmate and arrested by University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston (UTMB) police.
Cummins is now looking for some accountability from the officers that he says made a life-changing mistake and his attorney hopes this incident sparks some real change.
“I went to the hospital because I believed the police were going to kill me. I was seeing things and had severe anxiety,” explained Cummins.
Cummins checked himself into UTMB to get some mental health treatment. He left the building and walked out into the parking lot on May 8, 2022.
In surveillance footage from the scene, you can see him walking in the parking lot as officers pull up a few feet behind. He says he noticed a female TDCJ officer speaking to her partner who was in a police cruiser. The UTMB officer got out of his car and commanded Cummins to go to him.
“I said, ‘I’m not an inmate, I’m not a TDC inmate.’ Then they started telling me to get on the ground. I said, ‘I am not getting on the ground,’” explained Cummins. “I don’t know who you think I am. I do suffer from some mental issues but I am not insane and for them to say I was an inmate, I knew if I ran they could have shot me, so I didn’t.”
In the security footage, you can see the officers running after Cummins. One of the UTMB officers slammed Cummins to the pavement, as his K-9 partner passed right by them.
“The dog went around and figured he had a target and grabbed me by my face, and bit my ear,” he added. “When I tried to get him off of my ear he bit my hand. It was bleeding bad.”
You can hear in the body camera footage someone asking an officer on his radio, “So, he’s not a prisoner? They are doing a count, we’re making them do a count to verify that it’s not but it’s not.”
According to Cummins’ attorney Ruiz, “that’s when UTMB officers conspired with the Galveston District Attorney to bring false charges against Cummins for evading arrest.”
Cummins was charged with felony evading arrest. The charges against him were later dropped. He was then placed in the back of the police cruiser.
“Because of the heat, the stress, and what he was suffering, he goes until shock and has a seizure,” explains his attorney, Alberto Ruiz.
He was booked into the Galveston County jail on a $60,000 bond and placed on suicide watch. He spent the few days he was there, naked.
His mother, Jessie Cummins says she could not even believe it when she heard about what happened.
“I am glad I get to sit here next to my son because he is a survivor as far as I’m concerned,” said Jessie Cummins. “It’s sad, it’s terrible, it’s hard. But it’s real, and it’s life.”
So now, both Jeremie Cummins and his attorney hope this incident pushes local law enforcement agencies and government officials to reevaluate training for law enforcement and how they handle mental health situations.
“We’re asking police to do a better job and to carefully approach these people in general and not draw to any conclusions about their situation,” says Ruiz. “Until the local police department takes it seriously and start creating mental health units to deal with these types of calls and verify, these types of issues will continue to happen.”
Cummins’ attorney is now planning to file a federal lawsuit against the officers involved along with UTMB-Galveston, TDCJ, and the University of Texas claiming that police brutality, and excessive force caused his injuries and that they violated his civil rights by wrongfully detaining him without probable cause.
The victim has filed a complaint to the TDCJ and University of Texas System Police alleging the officers involved used excessive force and improperly arrested him.
A spokesperson for TDCJ released a statement that reads, “On May 8, 2022, TDCJ Correctional Officers noticed a non-TDCJ patient of UTMB-Galveston walking suspiciously toward the prison side of the hospital. UTMB police were notified and responded. "
UTMB-Galveston Police Department has no comment.