Police Beat: Christmas party revelry leads to serious ‘boo-boo’

Staff writerDecember 14, 2013 

Editor’s note: Compiled from reports to Tacoma Police.

Dec. 13: Shortly after 1 a.m., the gold SUV hit the onramp to Interstate 5 from South 56th Street.

A Tacoma officer watched, cruising in the right lane. The SUV, a 2000 Nissan Pathfinder, accelerated, and the driver drifted into the shoulder. Abrupt lane change to the left – no signal. The officer kept watching.

Both cars headed north. The exit to South 38th Street and Highway 16 was just ahead. At the last moment, the Pathfinder jerked right, crossed two freeway lanes and missed the concrete jersey barrier with little room to spare.

The officer flicked on his lights. The SUV pulled over. The maneuver was less than smooth.

The driver was 54, a Tacoma resident. His eyes were bloodshot, his speech slurred, and his breath was rank. He apologized for the lane change. He said he didn’t want to miss his exit.

He fumbled for his license. A pile of cards fell out of his wallet and spilled on his lap. He forgot about the registration and proof of insurance until the officer reminded him.

How much did he have to drink tonight?

“None at all,” the driver said. He added that he’d been to a Christmas party, and he was dropping off a friend – a woman who sat in the passenger seat.

The driver stepped out of the car. The cards in his lap fell to the ground. He tried to pick them up.

How much did he have to drink tonight?

The man said none. The officer said that wasn’t how the man smelled.

The man said he had a peppermint drink with rum. He might have finished a co-worker’s drink, too.

He failed the eye test – following the glow of a flashlight. He failed the walk and turn test, stumbled and braced himself on the trunk of the patrol car. He said one of his legs was shorter than the other, due to an old injury caused by a drunk driver.

He failed the stand-on-one-leg test, counting to two before dropping his foot down.

The officer ran a preliminary breath test. The driver blew a .11, over the legal limit. The officer arrested him.

In the patrol car, the driver said, “I know I did a boo-boo.”

The female passenger said she’d never seen her friend that hammered before. She said she’d asked him to slow down.

The officer booked the driver into the Fife City Jail on suspicion of driving while impaired.

Dec. 12: When cycling, it’s best to wear a helmet, especially when your record includes active warrants for your arrest.

The Tacoma man let the rule slide. He was 35, biking helmetless along 6th Avenue and South Alder Street shortly after 9 p.m. He saw a patrol car, stepped off his bike and walked it through the middle of the road, not bothering with the crosswalk.

The officer in the patrol car stopped him and started a routine lecture. The man had an ID card out of Florida. A records check came back with nothing. The officer suspected a false name, and cuffed the cyclist.

The cuffs clicked. The man ran. The officer shouted at him to stop. The man kept running toward houses nearby. The officer pulled a stun gun and shouted a warning.

Both men were running. As the officer fired the stun gun, the cyclist tripped and fell into someone’s front yard. The officer tripped over the cyclist and fell in a heap. The stun bolt shocked the grass.

The cyclist gave his real name.

“I have warrants,” he said. “I’m sorry.”

The officer checked the name and found the warrants. The cyclist said he’d never run from police before and realized it was “stupid.” The officer booked him into the Fife Jail on the warrants and suspicion of obstructing a police officer.

Dec. 12: The signs were obvious – a car parked at a convenience store after 2 a.m., far from the gas pumps and the store doors, with the motor running and two people inside.

An officer took a closer look. The car was a bronze Cadillac. The store was in the 8600 block of South Hosmer Street, an area known for drug trafficking and prostitution.

The officer watched. The car sat for several minutes. It pulled out of the parking lot, and rolled to a motel parking lot nearby. The officer followed. The Cadillac pulled out of the motel lot and into another lot. The officer flicked on his lights and stopped it.

The driver was a soldier who lived at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The passenger was a 30-year-old woman known to police from prior contacts.

What were they doing?

“We’re just getting to know each other,” the soldier said.

What was his passenger’s name?

The soldier didn’t know. He was nervous. He stuttered. The officer escorted him out of the car and said he had one chance to tell the truth.

The soldier said he met the woman online, using the Backpage.com website. He said he negotiated with her via text messages. He said he hadn’t paid the woman yet. He said he told his wife he was going to the gym, but he wasn’t.

The officer told the soldier to go home. The woman had a prior arrest warrant for prostitution. The officer booked her into the Fife Jail on the warrant and suspicion of soliciting prostitution.

Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486

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