DENVER – The man facing 23 charges after he allegedly stole multiple vehicles, including a tractor, got into a police chase through downtown Denver and according to officers, bit a K-9 as he struggled during his arrest, claims he wasn’t on drugs the night of the incidents and that he remembers very little of what happened that night. But he is apologetic for his alleged actions, saying he was in the midst of a mental health crisis.
Thomas Busch, 37, spoke to Denver7 Monday at the Downtown Detention Center in Denver. Saying he was still in pain after he was bitten several times by a police K-9 during his arrest July 20, Busch recounted a similar story to one he told a Denver judge last week at his first court appearance.
“I do remember some of it and then there’s some things that I don’t,” Busch said Monday. “But it was almost like I thought I was trying to protect myself from people and I was trying to get away.”
As he did in court last week, Busch told Denver7 he has PTSD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other mental health problems and that he’d stopped taking his medication before the incident. On Monday, he said he thought it was “like three weeks ago” when he stopped taking them, though he says his wife told him it was much longer ago than that. In court last week, he claimed it had been seven months since he’d taken his medication.
And while he said he’d used drugs intermittently while he was off his medication, he claimed Monday he’d been clean for “three or four days” ahead of the July 20 incident.
“I wasn’t on any sort of drugs at all,” he claimed.
According to Busch, he’d been headed to work with his boss that afternoon and he jumped out of the car, “for some reason,” he said. He says he called his mother, who picked him up, and that he told her he was “scared people were after [him].”
He says his mother told him she was going to take him to a hospital but he jumped out of her car too. He claims she called an ambulance but that the ambulance passed by him and didn’t pick him up. This part of Busch’s story has not been confirmed by police in the documents they have so far released.
Busch says he then remembers jumping a fence and hitting his head, but not much else after that.
“I remember being in the tractor and the sirens, and I don’t know, there’s some other things. But the case is still going so I can’t really talk about a lot of stuff,” Busch said. “It did occur to me, trust me, that I could’ve hurt somebody.”
According to police, who last week released a timeline of all the crimes Busch allegedly committed that night, Busch stole a car in Lakewood, dumped the car, stole a tow truck and got into hit-and-run crashes on Water St. and I-25, stole the tractor from a Denver Water facility, tried to steal another truck at City Park, drove through a fence at Manual High School, then took police on a chase through downtown Denver before a police car rammed the tractor and officers closed in.
"I didn't even know it was all that," he told Denver7 Monday. "I don't know how it's possible. It's a lot for one person."
According to police documents, officers had to use tasers twice on Busch and he bit and choked a police K-9 that was trying to get him into custody. When shown photos of the scene downtown from that night on Monday, Busch said, “At that point, I wasn’t conscious right there. I don’t remember that point. It’s pretty shocking because that’s not me.”
The charges against him include aggravated motor vehicle theft, vehicular assault and leaving the scene of an accident, among a host of other felonies, misdemeanors and traffic infractions. He is being held on a $50,000 bond and has so far opted to represent himself in court.
Busch said Monday he felt remorse for what he had done because it had affected not only him and his family, but several others as well.
“I do want to apologize to everybody that I did something to. I don’t know about the tow truck and all that other stuff. I don’t know about that, but I do want to apologize to everybody that’s out there, that this did affect society. I do apologize so much,” Busch said.
But he said he needs substance abuse and mental health treatment, and to take his medication and go to therapy rather than spend time in jail. And he said that others with substance abuse or mental health conditions should learn from his experience.
“It is important that you must take your meds and keep up on your therapy because I didn’t think it would have this big of an effect on somebody, and I really thought everything was fine,” Busch said. “I really thought – I was paying my bills; I was going to work. Everything was OK until it wasn’t.”