Police Beat: Exposure, trespassing — and a fondness for cop killer

Staff writerSeptember 22, 2013 

Editor’s note: compiled from reports to Tacoma police.

Sept. 14: The Pierce County Jail wouldn’t take the raging cyclist.

Neither would the Fife City Jail, Tacoma’s safety valve for low-level inmates. Neither would the county’s mental health recovery center, which was full.

So the cyclist, who called himself the biggest fan of a notorious cop killer, landed in the emergency room at St. Joseph Medical Center.

The trouble started about 1:30 p.m., when three officers responded to a disturbance at a food bank in the 3500 block of McKinley Avenue East.

The cyclist was 38, standing next to his bike, a red Schwinn with a small motor attached. According to witnesses, he started yelling at food bank customers, lit up a pipe in front of them, took a few tokes of weed, and shoved his hand down the front of his pants in a familiar motion.

The cyclist had visited a bar nearby and yelled at patrons. The bartender finally dragged him out the door. The cyclist grumbled that the bartender lacked “federal authority.”

Outside the bar, he mooned the window.

An officer told the cyclist to get off the bike. “No!” the cyclist shouted. A second officer joined in. They cuffed the cyclist and wrestled him into a patrol car. The cyclist screamed that the officers were sexually harassing him.

An officer told the cyclist he was under arrest. The cyclist said the officer should be arrested for sexual assault. He kicked at the patrol car’s partition.

The arrest offenses were misdemeanors: indecent exposure, criminal trespassing. The officer headed for Fife, where Tacoma has been sending low-level arrestees since the beginning of the year.

On the way, the officer realized Fife might not take the cyclist, due to mental health issues and potential violence. He called to check. Suspicions confirmed: Fife wouldn’t take this one.

The officer detoured to the Pierce County Jail. The cyclist ranted in the back seat.

“If you think you and your family are safe from me because I’m locked up, you’re wrong,” he said.

At the jail, the cyclist failed booking — a euphemism for not cooperating. A jail sergeant asked whether the cyclist was there on a felony or a misdemeanor. The Tacoma officer said it was a couple of misdemeanors. The sergeant said the jail wouldn’t take this one, on the advice of higher-ups: no “problem children” inmates with misdemeanors.

The cyclist had to go somewhere else. He got back into the officer’s patrol car. The Recovery and Response Center in Fife, a mental health treatment center intended for crisis patients, was full — a no-go. The officer drove to St. Joseph to set up an involuntary commitment.

While hospital staffers checked the cyclist’s vital signs and placed him in a bed with restraints, the cyclist looked at the officer and smiled.

“You know I am Maurice Clemmons’ biggest fan,” he said. “I wish I had been with him to see what he did in person.”

Sept. 15: The young woman knocked at the door and said her car was overheating. She just wanted to get some water. She left in a white pickup truck.

The homeowner suspected a ruse: pretending to have a broken-down car while checking out houses that might be break-in targets.

An officer drove to the 7000 block of South M Street and spotted the truck, a 2005 Ford F350 that looked a little banged up, parked by the curb. A 20-year-old man sat in the driver’s seat. A 24-year-old woman sat next to him. Neither had identification. They said the truck had broken down.

The woman admitted knocking on the door and asking for water. The man said he was test-driving the truck and thinking of buying it from a man he’d just met.

The officer ran the license plate. It didn’t match the truck. He ran the name the woman gave. It checked out. He ran the name the man had given. No record.

The officer called for backup. He took the man out of the truck and cuffed him. Checking the interior of the truck, he noticed a screwdriver jammed into the ignition. Checking the vehicle identification number, he found a theft report from January in Puyallup: The truck was hot.

The woman said she didn’t know anything about that. She’d just met the guy, she said. He called her and asked if she wanted to go for a ride.

The man, confronted, gave up his real name. He said the woman’s boyfriend asked him to work on the truck. Did he think it was odd that it took a screwdriver to start it? The man said all the boyfriend’s cars started with screwdrivers.

Officers released the woman and booked the man into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of possession of stolen property.

Sept. 16: The screamer wouldn’t leave the convenience store parking lot, and she wouldn’t stop pounding on cars.

An officer drove to the 9400 block of Pacific Avenue, found her and recognized her. The screamer was 43. The officer had talked to her half an hour earlier at a nearby apartment complex. He’d also talked to her two days earlier in a separate incident.

At the apartments, the screamer had said she’d been assaulted, though she was uninjured. She rambled and made no sense. The apartment manager said she’d recently been released from Western State Hospital.

The tenants said she’d been walking into their apartments without permission, carrying what looked like a letter opener. The officer had called the woman’s counselor, who was on vacation. He’d told the woman she needed to stay in her own apartment and not bother other people.

Now here she was, half an hour later, yelling at store customers and banging on car hoods. The officer tried to talk to her. She threw herself down on the sidewalk.

A friend of the woman’s arrived at the store and talked to the officer. The friend said the woman had been taken to the Recovery and Response Center in Fife two days earlier for similar behavior.

The officer took the woman to St. Joseph Medical Center for an involuntary commitment. At the hospital, she had to be restrained.

“I believe that she cannot care for herself and could possibly be a threat to others,” the officer noted.

Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486

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