Former law enforcement officer: Deputies, police put safety first above locking Cocoa cruiser doors

In a rare, one-of-a-kind police pursuit, a former law enforcement officer says it was all done by the book.  

FOX 35 sat down with former SWAT and narcotics officer James Copenhaver, who says in his whole career he’s never seen anything quite like this.  

Thursday, Volusia County detectives say Xavier Cummings, 33, was experiencing a mental crisis. The report says Cummings first took a Cocoa police cruiser along State Road 52 in Cocoa, leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase. He ditched the vehicle, somehow getting away and jumped into a second Cocoa police vehicle. This time, it was a K-9 and SWAT officer’s SUV.

"Are you kidding me?" You can hear one law enforcement officer say in body camera video Volusia County released on Friday.  

Copenhaver gave credit to Cocoa police, saying the officers were putting the safety of the other men and women on the scene ahead of locking the car doors.

"You’re heading into the threat," Copenhaver said, pointing out that at that point the police car had become the weapon as Cummings had it in the woods.

"Plus, are there weapons in the car? Later in the chase that you will hear that the vehicle that was stolen is a K-9 officer and is a SWAT officer, so there are a pretty good chance there are guns in this vehicle," he said.

Toward the end of the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office body camera footage, you see the SWAT SUV hit with stop sticks for a second time. The SUV pulls over on the lefthand side of Northbound I-95. 

A crowd of deputies surrounded Cummings and tackled him to the ground, including Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood. Chitwood later tried to check the SWAT SUV for any other occupants, but he couldn’t open the door.

"Oh no, it’s locked?" One of the deputies chuckled.  

As Cummings was being arrested, the body camera records him rambling about the CIA and almost chanting for the Volusia and Brevard County deputies.  

Detectives later recorded in the report that Cummings claimed he had consent via mental telepathy and that he was a law enforcement officer as well. Cummings also told deputies he had smoked marijuana and done crystal meth.  

Considering the 60-mile chase took the driver up to speeds of 110 mph through two different counties, all while having rifles in the backseat, Copenhaver said it turned out better than it could have.

These guys were very tactful in going in to be safe," he said.

Cummings does not have a Florida driver’s license. He’s listed as a Habitual Traffic Violator. He’s been charged with three felonies: Grand theft with a firearm and two counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle of more than $100,000.