Police Beat: Shooting fireworks while blasted earns a jail stint

Staff writerJuly 12, 2014 

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

July 7: The man liked his music loud and his fireworks louder. Three days after Independence Day, he still had plenty of explosive stock left over – apart from that, he was blasted.

Neighbors called police to complain about fireworks hitting their houses. It was almost 11 p.m.

Officers had driven through the area three hours earlier and seen aerial fireworks lighting up the sky. They couldn’t find the source. On this second visit, their luck improved; over the radio, dispatchers gave an address in the 3600 block of East Spokane Street.

Callers said they had told the resident to stop lighting fireworks and turn down the stereo. The resident had cursed, lit off more fireworks and turned the stereo up louder.

Officers heard the music a block away. They walked to the address and saw a man standing in his front yard. He was 38, with long hair and a goatee. He wore a black T-shirt, black jeans and boots.

Empty beer bottles and cans scattered over the porch, along with boxes of fireworks. The music thundered. An officer shouted to the man, asking if this was his house. The man said yes.

The officer said neighbors were complaining about the noise and the fireworks.

"This is tribal property and you need to leave," the man said.

The officer explained that the address was within Tacoma city limits. The city had a noise ordinance. The man could be arrested for violating it. The music thumped.

"Sir, could you please just turn down the music?" the officer said.

The man said no. He was on tribal land. The officer had no power over him.

Again the officer said the man could be arrested for violating the noise ordinance. Again, the man refused to turn down the music.

"You are under arrest, sir," the officer said.

"I’m going inside and I’m not turning down my music," the man said.

The officer drew a stun gun and warned the man he was about to fire it unless the man stopped. The man said no. The officer fired a bolt. The man sank into the grass. The officer cuffed him.

The officer asked the man if anyone else was in the house. The man said his girlfriend was home. The officer asked to go in and talk to her. The man said yes.

The music shook the house. The officer found the stereo controls, hit the pause button and called out to anyone who might be in the house. No one answered.

By this time, other officers had responded. They were talking to the man and reading his rights, which he wouldn’t acknowledge. He said he could only read German, added that he was "Cherokee-German," and did not recognize the officers’ right to arrest him.

The man’s girlfriend stepped out onto the porch. She asked what was going on. An officer asked her how she could sleep with all the noise.

She said she was used to it, and that her boyfriend did this all the time. She apologized for him. She cried and said she tried to stop him, but he didn’t care. He always got this way when he got drunk, she said.

On the way to the Fife City Jail, the man apologized to the officer.

"I’m sorry I gave you such a hard time," he said. "I’m just drunk."

He also asked whether fireworks were illegal within the city. They were, the officer said. The man laughed and bragged that he’d been lighting “2,000 dollars worth of the best (stuff) money can buy since before July 4.”

Officers booked the man into the Fife jail on suspicion of creating a public disturbance and resisting arrest.

July 5: The officer sat in his patrol car, scanning the grocery store parking lot. It was a little after 8 p.m.

He heard a voice call out, "Heh," and saw a man running toward a nearby car, hunched over, carrying something draped in dark cloth.

"Hurry up," the man said, and got into the passenger seat of the car, a black 1996 Ford Mustang.

The officer waited and watched. The car started. The driver shifted into reverse, backed up slightly, then drove slowly forward. The man in the passenger seat looked up and saw the officer.

The Mustang went forward. The officer turned on his lights and siren. The Mustang kept moving. It drove over a concrete curb and broke off a chunk. The car rolled for about 10 feet and stopped.

The passenger stepped out of the car, sank to his knees and put his hands in the air. The driver stepped out. The officer told him to get on the ground. The driver walked and talked, saying he didn’t know anything. He swayed on his feet and slurred his words.

The driver was 24. The officer cuffed him, put him in the patrol car and took a look at the Mustang. He saw a large unopened bottle of liquor in the back seat.

Another officer spoke to the passenger, who admitted stealing the liquor to help his friend.

The driver admitted he’d had a lot of beer. He said his friend drove to the grocery store. He said he knew nothing about stealing liquor.

Officers booked the driver into the Fife City Jail on suspicion of drunken driving. A store security officer said he hadn’t seen the theft, so he couldn’t say whether the passenger had stolen the liquor. Officers released the passenger at the scene and gave him an order that banned him from the store for a year.

July 4: The dispatch call was familiar – shots fired. Officers drove to an address in the 1600 block of South 80th Street.

As they arrived, they heard the sound of metal on metal – a clank that sounded like ammo being loaded, on the back side of the house. They shouted, telling the resident to come to the front unarmed with hands in the air.

A man stepped out of the front door. He was 26. He said the shots came from a neighbor’s house. He led officers to the back deck.

Officers saw 9-millimeter shell casings on the ground and shotgun shells. The man changed his story. He admitted he was the one firing his guns.

He said he had a bad day at work and a customer spat in his face. He said he was sorry. He said there were better ways to deal with his anger. He said he figured if he fired rounds in the air it wouldn’t matter.

One officer went into the house and found the man’s weapons – a pistol and a shotgun. They also found his girlfriend, who said the man had been shooting.

Officers confiscated the weapons and booked the man into the Fife City Jail on suspicion of discharging a weapon in a residential area.

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

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