LEWISTON — Two police officers who stood in front of a pickup truck fired their handguns at it when the truck suddenly lurched forward, a detective wrote in a sworn statement.
A surgeon who later removed a bullet from the driver's neck said the woman was "very lucky." The bullet apparently mushroomed when it passed through a window before it lodged in her neck muscle in front of her vertebrae and behind her esophagus.
The woman, Kristy Lee Cookson, 28, of Manchester appeared in 8th District Court dressed in a jail suit, a bandage wrapped around her chin. A judge reduced her bail from $25,000 cash to $15,000 cash. He also allowed $30,000 surety.
After chasing Cookson through town Tuesday evening, reaching speeds of 80 mph, officer Raymond Vega told Detective James Theiss that the stolen truck she was driving crashed into a parked car, then came to a stop, according to an affidavit filed Thursday in Androscoggin County Superior Court.
Vega got out of his cruiser and drew his service handgun.
Standing at the driver's side of the truck, Vega pointed his gun at Cookson and ordered her to stop and get out. He recognized her as the woman he had pulled over and arrested on Nov. 24 and charged with operating under the influence. She was released on bail.
Cookson looked at Vega and ignored his orders, he told Theiss. Vega saw another officer, Keith Caouette, run toward the back of the truck. Vega said he was afraid the truck might hit Caouette, so Vega shot at the driver's side tire.
The truck became stuck on a bank. Both officers moved to the front of the truck as it spun its wheels, the driver shifting from reverse to forward in an effort to free the vehicle. Then the truck lurched forward, they told Theiss.
"With the apartment building behind Officer Caouette and a retaining wall to his right, (he) had no place to retreat," Theiss wrote Wednesday in his sworn affidavit in support of a warrantless arrest. "Officer Caouette told me it was his belief that, based on Cookson's previous attempt to strike him and showing no desire to stop her vehicle at any time, it was her intention to strike one or both of the officers with the truck. Knowing how large the truck was, Officer Caouette feared that he would be run over or pinned up against the apartment building. Officer Caouette felt that this would either cause serious or fatal injury to himself or Officer Vega."
Vega was near the center of the front bumper; Caouette next to Vega toward the driver's side. Each officer fired two or three times. The truck backed up again, Theiss wrote.
Caouette told Vega to step to the side of the truck's path. Caouette fired his stun gun at Cookson, hitting her on her left shoulder. She eventually got out of the truck and was handcuffed, then taken to Central Maine Medical Center for treatment.
Cookson was charged with eluding an officer and reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon. Each of the felonies is punishable by up to five years in prison. She also was charged with violation of condition of release, a misdemeanor.
Assistant District Attorney Andrew Matulis argued for high bail, claiming Cookson had ties to Florida where she once lived and might try to return. He said she has a lengthy criminal history and poses a safety threat to the community.
Attorney Allan Lobozzo, who represented Cookson during her court appearance, said her family lives in Maine and she planned to stay with her mother in New Gloucester. He was seeking minimal cash bail and supervision by Maine Pretrial Services.
Judge Rick Lawrence set bail and conditions, including no operating a motor vehicle and counseling for anger issues, substance abuse and psychological issues.
Cookson has been charged 16 times in Broward County, Florida, according to court records there. Charges include child abuse, drug possession, eluding a police officer, resisting arrest and operating after suspension.
In Maine, Cookson was convicted last year on one count of domestic
violence assault and sentenced to 120 days in jail, with all time
suspended. She violated her probation on that charge earlier this year
and served eight days in jail.
Since Cookson's Maine license was issued, she has been involved in
one previous accident and, since 2008, has been convicted of one count
of operating under the influence, operating without a license,
operating an unregistered vehicle, failure to pay a fine, failure to
display inspection sticker, failure to produce evidence of insurance
and three convictions for failing to appear in court on separate
charges of failing to report an accident, driving without a license and
operating under the influence of liquor. In 2008, Cookson's license was
suspended for seven months for failure to take a Breathalyzer test.