“Marshall, I need an ambulance, right now. My arm is severely cut,” Marshall Police Officer Zachary Lastra is heard saying on his body cam after crashing his arm into a window while trying to apprehend Antonio Dejuan Trammel, a fleeing felon, on May 13, 2019.
“I need them here now. Immediately,” Lastra is heard pleading as he applies a tourniquet to his left arm and begins praying.
“Father, in the name of Jesus, help me, “ he said, breathing deeply.
The body cam of the incident was played before jurors on Tuesday as the trial of Trammel began in the 71st Judicial District Court, with Judge Brad Morin presiding.
Trammel, 34, is being charged with evading arrest, causing serious bodily injury and evading with a previous conviction. He pleaded not guilty to both charges.
Several members of MPD were present for the trial, including Police Chief Cliff Carruth.
“I expect that this trial will be pretty straight forward,” Harrison County District Attorney Reid McCain told jurors in opening statement.
McCain said the incident occurred when Lastra and fellow officer Ben Wilson responded to a call for a welfare check at Villa Charmont Apartment at 2901 E. Travis St, , in Marshall.
While at the scene, they realized Trammel had a parole warrant out of Galveston County. McCain said the officers were real nice, allowing Trammel to finish his cigarette before taking him to jail.
“Despite their kindness, Mr. Trammel bolts and runs,” said McCain.
As Lastra reaches for him, the officer’s arm goes through the window, slicing it severely. As officer Wilson continues to chase the defendant, an injured Lastra stops his pursuit.
“He realizes the severity of his injury,” said McCain, describing how the blood flowed like a rainfall.
“He realizes he’s hurting so badly, he has to stop, put a tourniquet on, all the while calling for help,” McCain told the jury. “He thought he was dying. He prays for help.”
As Lastra rested on the ground, trying to stabilize his arm, off-duty Officer James Wayman, who was returning home from a workout and heard the radio call for help, arrived to assist.
Wayman ended up getting a second tourniquet to apply to Lastra’s arm to help slow the bleeding. McCain said when Marshall Fire/EMS arrived, they immediately began rendering aid.
The DA noted that Lastra was first sent to Marshall hospital’s emergency room, but then transported to Longview because of the severity. Once he got to Longview’s emergency room, they realized he needed surgery.
“All medical doctors will tell you, but for medical intervention, on May 13, the officer would’ve lost his life,” said McCain. “That’s serious bodily injury.
“It does not matter if this defendant intentionally meant to commit serious bodily injury; he intended to run; and, as a result of that, Officer Lastra is hurt,” McCain argued.
To this day, Lastra is still on medical leave due to his injury.
In his opening statements, Jonathan Hyatt, court-appointed attorney for the defendant, said this case is going to boil down to whether or not the officer’s injury was a direct result of his client running.
“That’s it,” said Hyatt.
Hyatt said the way to come to that conclusion is to watch the body cam footage. He said nowadays body cams can be used for the protection of both law enforcement and defendants.
“Watch that second video and see whose arm comes around (Officer Lastra) before he (slams) into that window,” Hyatt urged.
Hyatt suggested that the body cam shows the arm of the state’s first witness, Officer Wilson, around Lastra before the glass shatters. Hyatt pointed out that Wilson’s body cam shows Trammel several feet ahead when the glass breaks.
Wilson, who took the stand to give his account of the incident, said he wasn’t the cause.
“It appears that your arm was in the back of his arm?” Hyatt asked.
“Not that I can see,” Wilson responded.
“Would you agree with me you may have inadvertently hit Mr. Lastra” Hyatt asked.
“No,” Wilson responded.
Further answering Hyatt’s questions, Wilson said Trammel was maybe one or two steps ahead, at the time and not several feet.
Hyatt also asked Lastra during his testimony if his body cam depicted the defendant a few feet ahead of him when the glass broke. Lastra said no.
“Not at that moment when my hand went through the glass window,” he said.
Hyatt asked if it was possible that some force behind him caused him to fall through the window.
“I don’t know,” said Lastra.
Answering questions from the DA, McCain, Lastra said his hands were on Trammel when he went to grab the defendant during the pursuit.
In his account, Wilson said they responded to the apartment complex about a man with a rifle, in the front yard, threatening a woman and children. He said they discovered it was a pellet gun, and no harm was done.
He said they were taking him to jail, however, because dispatchers confirmed through his ID that he had a felony parole warrant out of Galveston.
Wilson said Trammel started talking loudly, upset about going to jail. He said as Lastra let him finish smoking a cigarette, the defendant stands up and starts running. Lastra chases him, grabbing him, as Wilson runs behind the officer.
“I hear a window (break), Wilson recalled.
He said he continued to chase Trammel around the complex and across the street. His pursuit stopped once he fell in a hole and Trammel disappeared in the woods.
“I lost sight of him,” Wilson recounted.
Wilson said when he returned to the complex to check on Lastra, he saw the officer on an ambulance stretcher, looking pale.
“He didn’t look good at all,” said Wilson. “I noticed there was a lot of blood, but didn’t know where it was coming from.”
Lastra also took the stand, Tuesday, to give his account.
“After he lied about his name, initially, which is an offense within itself, he decided to tell us he was scared to tell us his real name because he was out on parole,” Lastra said of Trammel.
Lastra said his body cam video will show how nice and patient he was to the defendant while explaining to him that they couldn’t release him because of the felony warrant. He said he allowed Trammel to finish smoking his cigarette because it usually calms people before having to go to jail.
“It’s never been an issue before,” said Lastra.
“Mr. Trammel decided at some point in time that he did not want to go to jail; he did not want to comply with us and he ran,” said Lastra.
As soon as Trammel started running, he headed toward State Highway 31 in the direction of the junior high. Lastra said he was able to grab him and redirect him, before he broke loose and took off running around the complex.
“When his shirt ripped into my hand, we spun around,” said Lastra.
While in pursuit, Lastra’s arm went through the glass window.
“I was trying to apprehend a felon,” Lastra said of how he got injured. “He was jerking away from me from the moment he took off running.”
“His fists were clinched and then he decided to keep on running,” said Lastra.
The officer said his left arm bled profusely.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” he said of the amount of blood. “I knew if I kept on running, I was going to die.”
“I saw the blood shoot out of my arm,” he continued. “The best I could describe it was like a waterfall.”
He said he knew if he didn’t apply a tourniquet to slow the bleeding, he was going to bleed out and die.
Marshall Fire Department captain, Collin Noble said when he arrived on the scene, another officer, Jamie McConnell, was trying to stabilize Lastra’s arm.
“I could tell by the amount of blood on the ground that we had a significant injury,” said Noble.
Noble said he applied his trauma pad to the wound. He agreed that the tourniquet was a lifesaver.
“By the Marshall Police Department being very aggressive with this tourniquet protocol, that made a significant impact with Officer Lastra’s outcome, without a doubt,” said Noble.
Officer Wayman, who applied the second tourniquet also recalled the large amount of blood at the scene. He’s heard on the body cam telling Lastra to hang in there.
“Hold on, brother,” Wayman encouraged. “Hold on.”
The case continues today, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the 71st District Court.