Houston, TX – A man who spent more than 10 years inside a psychiatric hospital for slamming his vehicle into two Houston police officers – killing one of them – was allowed to walk free last week, according to the Houston Police Officers’ Union (HPOU).
Harris County District Court Judge Mark Kent Ellis issued an order on Dec. 17, authorizing Rusk State Hospital to release 37-year-old Hung Dasian Truong, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Truong was committed to the inpatient facility after he was acquitted by reason of insanity on a manslaughter charge in 2008 for intentionally crashing his vehicle into Houston Police Officer Gary Gryder and Officer Fred Pyland as they were out directing traffic on the Katy Freeway in June of that year.
Truong slammed through a construction barricade and plowed into the officers without braking, then proceeded to crash into a brick wall, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
He later claimed he was hearing voices that told him to kill the officers, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Officer Gryder, 47, was killed in the attack.
The 23-year veteran-of-the-force left behind his wife, children, grandchildren, parents, and two sisters, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Officer Pyland suffered severe injuries, but survived the murder attempt, KRIV reported.
He has since retired from the force.
As required by law, Truong’s case has been reexamined by the court on an annual basis in order to determine whether or not he should continue to be treated on an inpatient basis, the Houston Chronicle reported.
If “clear and convincing evidence” indicates ongoing inpatient treatment is warranted, the court can authorize a defendant to be held. But the court can also release the suspect to outpatient treatment if deemed appropriate by treating doctors and evaluators.
Historically, the court has sided with prosecutors and determined Truong was a continuing threat to society and no outpatient services were adequate treatment options for him, Harris County District Attorneys Office spokesperson John Donnelly told the paper.
“We’ve been fighting against this for a long time,” Donnelly said. “We have prevailed up until yesterday.”
Ellis determined on Dec. 17 that Truong will be released into the community, but that he will remain under the court’s jurisdiction for nine more years, the Houston Chronicle reported.
He is slated to move into a mental health group home, where he must continue his medications and be fitted with a GPS monitor.
HPOU President Douglas Griffith expressed frustration that Truong was never held accountable for murdering Officer Gryder and severely injuring Officer Pyland.
“We are extremely disappointed in the court’s ruling, but not surprised, considering the current judicial situation in Harris County,” Griffith said in a press release.
Griffith said he’s most concerned Truong won’t comply with his medication requirements once he’s released from the inpatient facility, KRIV reported.
“He’s fine when he takes medication. When he is in the facility, he has to take his medication,” he said. “Once he’s out there alone, there is no one there to make sure he is properly medicated.”
“They’re not going to be able to watch him 24/7. No one can, even his own family won’t be able to do that,” Griffith added. “I can almost guarantee we’ll see his name again… If he doesn’t take his medication and he starts hearing those voices again, we’ll be back in the same scenario sadly with another victim.”
Griffith released a statement saying Ellis’ ruling was “hard to believe.”
The union president thanked Harris County Assistant District Attorney Bradford Crockard, “who has valiantly fought to keep Truong in a mental health facility, where he belongs.”
The Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office will work with other law enforcement agencies to ensure Truong’s “exact location” is known, Griffith said.
“Please continue to keep fallen Houston Police Officer Gary Gryder’s family in your prayers,” Griffith said in the press release.