AUSTIN (KXAN) – Austin police arrested a man who they said broke windows on a US Customs and Border Protection SUV parked at Austin Bergstrom International Airport on Thursday, according to an Austin Police report. Police said they believe the incident could have been an attempt at “suicide by cop.”
Police said Eric Wightman, 43, was seen throwing rocks, punching and kicking the SUV at about 8:25 p.m. Thursday night while it was parked on the lower east end of the airport’s terminal.
US Customs and Border Protection confirmed to KXAN that four of the SUV’s windows were broken out. Austin police said “there was blood and shattered glass everywhere.”
A witness told KXAN that it happened near the passenger pick up area and that Wightman was “causing a scene” and “acting crazy.”
“I had passengers with me, so my first priority was to get them safely away from the area,” she said.
When an officer responded, he said he parked his patrol vehicle behind the SUV, turned on his lights and hit his siren several times to get Wightman’s attention.
The officer stepped out of his vehicle and yelled at Wightman to get on the ground. Wightman refused and instead began digging inside a backpack, which the officer said could have indicated he was searching for a weapon.
Wightman was backing away from the officer, continuing to rummage in the backpack while the officer continued to yell, “Show me your hands! Let me see your hands!”
But Wightman fell down on his back while backing away and continued to dig in his backpack and make threatening motions and verbal taunts at the officer, police said.
That’s when the officer yelled, “Taser, Taser, Taser,” and deployed his Taser, striking Wightman in the leg while he was on the ground.
Although stunned, Wightman managed to break free from the Taser connectors, got up and started running eastbound on Presidential Boulevard.
The officer began chasing him and was joined by a US Customs officer and two other APD officers, police said.
The officer said he drew his weapon, but kept it pointed at the ground during the entire confrontation.
A white pickup blocked Wightman’s path, police used a Taser to subdue him and then handcuffed him.
He was arrested and charged with Evading Arrest or Detention on Foot, a Class A misdemeanor, and Criminal Mischief Equal to or Greater than $750 But Less than $2,500. He refused to answer questions or say anything to police.
Medics were called to the scene, determined that his heart rate was elevated and took him to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center for observation.
He was booked into the Travis County Jail on Friday and his bond was set at $5,500. As of 4 p.m. Sunday, he remained in jail.