Police Beat: Bar fights and broken windows

Staff writerMarch 1, 2014 

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

Feb. 25: She wanted to go where everybody knew her name – but they weren’t glad she came.

She was 40, a semi-regular at the tavern in the 300 block of North I Street. She’d been kicked out and banned from the place a day earlier. She came back to kick back.

At 12:37 a.m., an officer in a patrol car passed the tavern and heard a scream. A small group was fighting at the entrance.

The officer stepped out of his car and saw the woman squaring off with patrons and shouting curses. The patrons said the woman had assaulted someone at the bar, telling one man “Give me your beer!” and adding that he was doomed to hell. After that, she’d pushed two people and punched a woman in the face.

The officer radioed for backup and approached carefully.

Told she was going to be arrested, the woman held up a lighter and flicked it in the officer’s face, telling him to get away. He tried to take her arm. She slapped his hand away, aimed a kick at the officer’s groin and hit the target.

The woman started running. The officer, aching, told her to stop and warned her she was about to be tased.

The woman ignored him. The officer fired a stun-gun shot. It missed. He fired another. The bolt hit. The woman fell. More officers arrived, along with an emergency medical team from the Tacoma Fire Department.

Three witnesses described the fight. They said the woman had mental issues and needed help. The bartender backed up their account, and said the kicked officer had been patient with the woman.

The woman had no injuries and didn’t claim any. Asked if she needed medical attention, she replied, “I’ve only slept 5 minutes in the last 24 hours and I need a cigarette.”

Officers took the woman to the Pierce County Jail and booked her on suspicion of multiple counts of third- and fourth-degree assault.

Feb. 22, 6:57 p.m.: The scene - a bar-slash-arcade in the 700 block of Pacific Avenue.

The bar accountant stepped out of the restroom. He spotted two guys arguing by the change machines. One, stocky and red-faced, blocked the other, who was taller.

“You haven’t accepted Jesus. Prove it by taking off your pants.”

The taller guy said something back. The stocky guy shoved him. The accountant hustled over, told the stocky guy to leave and got punched in the face.

The accountant shouted. The bartender and another employee rushed. All three surrounded the man, wrestling him toward the door.

The man fought. The accountant pulled a pepper sprayer and spritzed his eyes. The man stopped fighting. The employees shoved him out the door and called 911.

Two officers drove to the scene and broke it down. The accountant said he wasn’t hurt; the punch glanced. He said the stocky man had been bothering customers before the fight, and been told to back off.

The bartender and the other employee told matching stories of the fight. One officer stepped outside to broadcast a suspect description. The accountant was standing outside, smoking.

He pointed to a figure standing a block away – that was the guy.

The officers caught him on the corner and cuffed him. He was 41, 5-8, 230 pounds and red-faced. His eyes watered and he smelled like liquor.

He admitted arguing with the guy at the change machine, but denied the assault. He said they were having a religious argument. The other guy said the man was going to hell because he was gay.

He denied punching the accountant. He denied that he’d been asked to leave. He said he was being arrested for being gay. Officers booked him into the Fife City Jail on suspicion of misdemeanor assault.

Feb. 22: The window-breaker had nowhere to go and wanted to stay at Tacoma General Hospital. He said he felt suicidal.

Earlier, he’d been released from the Recovery Resource Center in Fife, a short-term mental-health facility.

The window-breaker was 41. He had an active warrant for his arrest. In December, a deputy prosecutor saw him throwing rocks at the second-floor windows of the county courthouse.

He’d been arrested three times in 2013, charged with malicious mischief and vandalism. Breaking windows was his specialty. He’d shuttled in and out of jail and Western State Hospital. Psychological evaluations diagnosed him with schizophrenia aggravated by substance abuse. A long-term meth user, he’d told experts he heard voices in his head constantly.

At Tacoma General, he told the officer he was hearing the same voices again. He felt suicidal. Hospital staffers said they couldn’t do anything for him.

Five times, the officer told him to leave or be arrested. Five times, the man refused.

The officer arrested him, took him to the Fife City Jail and booked him on suspicion of criminal trespassing.

As the officer watched, jail staffers asked the man if he felt suicidal.

“No.”

The man looked at the officer and said he was sorry.

Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486
sean.robinson@thenewstribune.com
@seanrobinsonTNT

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