Man Pleads Not Guilty By Reason of Mental Illness Following High-Speed Chase in Casper
A man who could face up to 50 years in prison after trying to collect money he said was "promised to him by former President Barack Obama" and leading law enforcement on a chase that ended at the Burger King on Poplar heard five felony charges against him Thursday morning in Natrona County District Court.
David Stephen Briones III, 50, is charged with two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of attempting to injure a peace officer and one count of property destruction. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
Briones pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental illness or deficiency to each count. He will undergo an outpatient mental evaluation before court proceedings continue in his case.
Charging documents say on February 8, Natrona County Sheriff's deputies were notified of a man -- Briones -- acting strangely in the parking lot of the Natrona County Detention Center at 1100 Bruce Lane.
Briones, who was in a 2013 Lincoln, was driving in circles in the parking lot of the jail. Deputies arrived, identified Briones and saw that he had been called in twice already that day -- once for an "attempt to locate" and again as a "gas drive-off" from a gas station at 400 Salt Creek Highway in Mills.
After briefly interacting with deputies in the jail parking lot, Briones took off in the Lincoln. Deputies initially gave chase, but called off the pursuit due to safety concerns.
At the same time, a deputy in a marked sheriff's truck was passing Briones on Glenn Road. At that moment, court documents say, the deputy and Briones made eye contact, and Briones allegedly swerved to hit the deputy's vehicle.
The deputy was able to avoid a collision. Briones continued southeast on Glenn Road and was seen pulling into the Burger King drive-up lane, where he stopped the Lincoln at the service window.
Two other deputies in marked Sheriff's vehicles showed up and positioned themselves in front of and behind Briones' vehicle, respectively. When the deputy in front of Briones activated his emergency lights, Briones accelerated and rammed the deputy's vehicle.
The deputy behind Briones pulled forward, locking Briones' Lincoln in place. At about that time, police officers from Mills and Casper, as well as Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers, arrived to assist.
Officers had to pull Briones from the Lincoln in order to arrest him, due to the position of Briones' vehicle and the damage to it.
Briones was taken to Wyoming Medical Center, where court documents say he was medically cleared, having no significant injury. He was then taken to the Casper Police Department for an interview with a detective.
During the interview, Briones reportedly spoke about the day leading up to the arrest. Detectives observed Briones speaking to people who weren't in the room. When speaking directly to Briones, detectives saw him with reduced speech, reduced emotional response and reduced social skills, according to an affidavit.
Briones allegedly said he smoked meth two days before his arrest. He also said he was on various medications and had a gift which allowed him to communicate with others without them being present.
He said he had been communicating with those voices throughout much of the day, which led him to the area of the Casper Events Center. While he was there, Briones said he realized he was out of gas and at some point made his way to the gas station at 400 Salt Creek Highway.
There, Briones allegedly stole gasoline after telling the clerk he owned the police department and wanted the fuel bill sent to them. Then, Briones left and went to the jail to get money which was promised to him by former President Barack Obama, according to the affidavit.
Briones said while he was at the detention center, sheriff's deputies started shooting at him and he tried to get away. As he approached the Burger King at Poplar and English, he decided he was hungry and pulled into the drive-through so he could order and eat.
While digging for spare change, Briones reportedly told investigators, he saw sheriff's vehicles pull up behind and in front of him. He distinctly remembered the overhead lights were on, court documents say.
Briones said he accelerated and the deputies accelerated, causing the accident. He recalled being pulled from his vehicle and arrested.
Briones remains free on bond.