Weslaco man charged with escaping from Mercedes police

The Mercedes Police Department has accused a 29-year-old Weslaco man of escaping after an officer transported him to a hospital for medical clearance because he refused to answer COVID-19 questions.

Police arrested Gabriel Zuniga on Sunday after an officer clocked him driving 93 mph in a white Ford truck as he was exiting Vermont Avenue. Authorities accuse him of refusing to stop.

Zuniga is charged with escape from custody, evading arrest with a vehicle and driving while intoxicated, third or more. He remains jailed on $180,000 in bonds, records show.

After an approximate 2-mile chase, Zuniga pulled over in the 2000 block of West Frontage Road, according to a probable cause affidavit.

When the officer asked Zuniga why he didn’t stop, the man said “I’m sorry; I just want to get home,” police say.

The officer asked Zuniga to exit the vehicle and claims he had unsteady balance, swayed from side to side as he walked to the rear of the truck while displaying red bloodshot eyes and slurred speech, the charging document states.

According to police, Zuniga said he had consumed a 12-pack of Budweiser beer two hours prior to the traffic stop and when asked to perform a field sobriety test, Zuniga requested his attorney.

“While at the Weslaco City Jail, Gabriel refused to answer any COVID questions so Gabriel was transported to Valley Baptist Micro Hospital for medical clearance. Once at the hospital Gabriel became aggressive toward the officer and request (sic) to go to the restroom,” the probable cause affidavit states.

The officer says in the affidavit that he released one of the handcuffs and alleges Zuniga began to resist by pulling his arm away.

“Officer Trevino warned Gabriel not to resist, Gabriel said (expletive) it and started to resist pushing away said officer. Officer Trevino began to grab Gabriel and tried to gain control but was unsuccessful and managed to escape,” the probable cause affidavit states.

The officer then radioed for assistance.

The charging document provides no information on how long Zuniga allegedly escaped from custody or when and where Mercedes police arrested the man.