MAURY COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Maury County man accused of carjacking two women, sexually assaulting one of them, and attacking an armed sheriff’s deputy says he is sorry for his actions and blames clinical depression for what happened.
On Tuesday morning, 22-year-old Devondrick Tanner spoke to News 2 about the crime spree of February 8. The suspect came to the interview in handcuffs, leg shackles, and clutching a Bible.
Tanner tells News 2 that he has suffered from depression and anxiety since he was a teenager. He tells News 2 that he was not high or drunk when he allegedly committed a number of violent felonies. He says he “blacked out” and was trying to kill himself.
“That was just the battle between good and evil, between my head. Mental illness is a bad thing,” said Tanner, “I tried to kill myself, and the whole time, listening to people stories, I am sorry for the people I attacked. I know you saw the other side of me, but there is another side of me and if you are willing to see it, we can always talk.”
Tanner said he threw himself out of a moving car, but he drove it away from oncoming traffic because he said he didn’t want to hurt anyone else.
When a Good Samaritan approached to check on his welfare, investigators say Tanner punched her and sexually assaulted her before stealing her car.
Tanner said he doesn’t remember any of it, but that he is sorry for his actions.
“And the other side took over, and the devil took over, he was really talking to me. It was a mental breakdown. I was really fighting the devil, that is what’s going on.”
After wrecking the first car, a second woman stopped. Tanner also got in her car, but the woman took the keys and Tanner couldn’t flee.
The woman told deputies her handgun was also in the car with Tanner. When asked if he knew there was a gun in the car, Tanner said he did not.
After multiple requests to surrender, Tanner opened up the passenger door and rushed at armed deputies. It took two seconds for Tanner to reach the first deputy who saw Tanner was unarmed. The deputy tried to reholster his weapon, but could not, instead flipping it toward another deputy nearby.
Tanner again said he remembers nothing.
“No sir. I’ve never been in an altercation; I’ve never been in a fight. If that was the real me, I would have been scared out of my mind. I would have probably broken down and cried right there and said, ‘Just tackle me, just handcuff me.’ But the other side I built up, all the altercations I’ve ever just pushed away, and turned the other cheek, that was the person who was not afraid to get shot or afraid to tackle the officer.”
Tanner adds, “I was so lucky and fortunate, that the police officers saw I did not have a gun and just start shooting me. That’s what made me really grateful for life because he is not going to give you that many chances.”
At the time, Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland credited his deputies for not shooting Tanner, saying the officers had every right to use lethal force.
Tanner is charged with a slew of crimes including assaulting an officer, carjacking, and sexual assault. He said he will use the time to better himself, and become a useful member of society once he is released from jail.
“Most definitely, because you saw the other side of me, I was trying to push back, but there is a good side to me,” said Tanner.
Tanner said he is telling his story to spotlight mental illness. He encourages people who feel depressed to get treatment, and talk to loved ones.