Dec. 4: Photography is not a crime — but the law frowns at a punch in the face.
The rail passenger was 21, a student at the University of Washington Tacoma. Around noon, he rode a Link light rail car and sat in the rear section.
A stranger boarded the train at East 25th Street. He was 27. He stared at the student and said nothing. He carried a phone and aimed the camera at the student’s face. The student noticed. The stranger with the phone didn’t speak; he moved closer and closer, until he stood within an arm’s length of the student, holding the phone and recording.
Unsettled, the student waved his hand and swatted the phone away. The fight was on. Both men threw punches.
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Bystanders tried to break up the scuffle. One squeezed off a payload of pepper spray.
Officers responded to the scene and separated the two men. The student had scratches on his face. He said he didn’t know the man who had tried to film him.
The stranger was hot. He wouldn’t give his name. He wouldn’t answer questions, except to say repeatedly, “I was a victim,” and “I was using my phone.”
Two witnesses backed up the student’s account. They said the stranger had boarded the train, walked toward the student without saying anything, stood over him and filmed without explanation. They said the fight had broken up briefly and that the stranger had attacked the student again, scratching his face. A rail supervisor told police that on-board video of the incident showed the stranger was the aggressor.
The student said he should have called police instead of fighting with the man. Officers cited him for fighting in public and released him at the scene.
They cuffed the stranger, who wouldn’t stop talking long enough to be told he was under arrest. He had a prior record of minor encounters with police, as well as multiple no-contact and anti-harassment orders filed against him by his parents, among others.
Officers booked the stranger into the Fife City Jail on suspicion of misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct.
Dec. 3: Less than two hours out of jail, the man picked a fight with his ex-girlfriend, which wasn’t the smartest move — the no-contact court order against him was still in effect.
Responding to a reported domestic violence call, two officers drove to an address in the 3500 block of South Orchard Street. They found the man standing outside an apartment door, holding a liquor bottle and yelling, “Come to the door and talk to me man to man!”
The man was 49. Officers cuffed him and stowed him in a patrol car. They spoke to the people inside the apartment.
The ex-girlfriend was 45. She had a roommate, a 54-year-old man. The man said the ex-boyfriend had forced his way into the apartment and started a fight, accusing him of sleeping with the ex.
The man said the boyfriend had punched him twice in the head, brandished a wine bottle and pulled back for a swing. The ex-girlfriend intervened at that point, shouting, “You better not!”
The boyfriend walked out of the apartment at that point, the man said. When the door closed behind him, the boyfriend started kicking it and shouting.
The ex-girlfriend refused to give a statement. Asked about her ex, she said, “I still love him.”
In the patrol car, the ex-boyfriend said he’d just gotten out of jail that day and wanted to pick up his car and other belongings. He said some of his stuff, including the car, was gone. He accused his ex and her friend of selling the car to buy dope.
He said the other man hit him in the head with a stick. The boyfriend had no visible injuries. The officer said so. The boyfriend admitted he was lying and said the other man didn’t hit him.
The boyfriend changed his statement one more time, again saying the other man hit him first. Officers asked about that.
“I don’t care,” the man said. “I’m going to jail anyway.”
Officers booked the man into the Fife City Jail on suspicion of violating a no-contact order associated with a 2013 conviction for assaulting his ex.
Nov. 29: The wedding was supposed to end with tears and cheers — instead, a melee broke out and the father of the bride landed in jail.
The dispatch call came in shortly before midnight. The report said 20 to 30 people were fighting in a parking lot, some armed with knives and broken bottles. Multiple officers drove to the Asia Pacific Cultural Center at 4851 South Tacoma Way.
They found a giant scrum — 30 to 40 men and women in a tangle of shouts, screams and fists. Officers turned on lights and sirens to disperse the crowd. It didn’t work. They called for backup.
Two officers stepped toward the biggest fighting group — about 20 people — and shouted at them to stop.
The parking lot was strewn with broken glass. Some people were bleeding. Others were on the ground, warding off punches and kicks. Officers saw no weapons. The crowd scattered a little, but a smaller group kept battling.
One officer fired a burst of pepper spray into the smaller group; half of them pulled away, but a knot of three men continued to fight. Officers saw one man, 65, rush into the pile and punch someone.
Other officers arrived and began to separate the crowd. The three main combatants were rubbing their eyes and shouting at police. A security guard at the scene pointed to the three men and said they were the instigators. Two were 23. One was 32.
Another man in the crowd bled from a deep cut on his arm. He said he’d tried to break up the fight and been knocked down, breaking the bottle of cinnamon whiskey he’d been holding.
Officers tracked down the 65-year-old man. He said he was the father of the bride, and the three men who started the trouble were uninvited friends of a wedding usher. He said he was just trying to make them go away.
Officers booked two of the three men into the SCORE jail in Des Moines on suspicion of fighting in public. They booked the third man and the father of the bride into the Fife City Jail on suspicion of the same charges. The man with the cut on his arm was taken to Tacoma General Hospital and treated for his injuries.