Charges downgraded for man accused of striking Cortez man with truck

A Bradenton man arrested for allegedly striking and dragging another man with a truck was charged with aggravated battery with great bodily harm and deadly weapon and leaving the scene of a crash with serious bodily injury.

The charges against David Nichols in the alleged assault against Cortez worker Fred Gilliland were downgraded since November, when Nichols was arrested and accused of attempted murder.

Nichols, 56, of Bradenton, as of Dec. 23, was being held on $150,000 bond in the Manatee County jail.

According to an arrest affidavit, Nichols and Gilliland were in a “heated verbal argument” outside a residence in the 4600 block of 101st Street West on the mainland.

A witness attempted to quell the argument, leading to Gilliland, 61, walking away on 101st Street West toward 46th Avenue West.

The witness then went inside a home and heard tires squealing, the sound of an impact and Gilliland’s cries for help.

A call to 911 brought paramedics and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. An investigation determined that Gilliland was dragged about 284 feet and “sustained a multitude of life-threatening injuries which included the removal of his spleen, a lacerated liver, multiple rib fractures, collapsed left lung, right arm amputation and numerous facial sutures,” according to the arrest report.

Gilliland was taken to Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, where his condition was unknown at press time Dec. 23.

Gilliland’s longtime friend and employer at Cortez Bait and Seafood in Cortez, James “Wyre” Lee, described Gilliland’s condition Dec. 13: “The last time I saw him he was sharp and he’s getting frustrated with being in the hospital. He’s got a strong will to live.”

Gilliland has received an outpouring of community support. As of Dec. 23, a GoFundMe page called Friends for Freddy had raised more than $6,000.

Nichols is represented by public defender Mark Adams, who was not available for comment Dec. 19.