Crime

Police beat: Stolen mail, blaming Mom's dog and ramming a tow truck

Editor’s note: Compiled from reports to Tacoma police and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

March 20: The red Nissan Sentra picked up speed as the sheriff’s deputy finished a U-turn. It ran a stop sign at 84th Street East and Vickery Avenue East.

As the deputy followed, the passenger door opened. Envelopes fluttered out; someone was tossing mail.

The deputy knew mail thefts were plaguing the surrounding area. He followed the Nissan and flicked on his emergency lights. Eventually, the car pulled over.

The deputy recognized the driver, a 42-year-old man.

Was the man’s driver’s license still suspended? Yes, the man said.

What about all that tossed mail?

The man said nothing.

The deputy told the man to get out of the car. The man did. He’d been sitting on another envelope.

The deputy spoke to the passenger, a 33-year-old woman. Asked for her name, she gave multiple versions.

Did she know anything about the envelope in the driver’s seat?

She said she didn’t.

Why was she throwing envelopes out the window?

The woman said she was decluttering the car. The deputy asked if she wanted to be honest. The woman said she was being honest.

The deputy looked at the name and address on the envelope and called the man who belonged to it.

The man said he didn’t know either of the people in the Nissan, and they had no permission to go through his mail.

The mail from the car and the envelopes strewn along the roadside yielded a list of eight names. They were called and told about the thefts.

The 42-year-old man was booked into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of possessing stolen mail, driving with a suspended license, and possession of drug paraphernalia. The woman was booked on suspicion of possessing stolen mail.

March 18: Reportedly, the Tacoma man, 42, was drinking, suicidal, and walking toward Point Defiance.

Tacoma officers responded to an address in the 1800 block of North Winnifred Street and searched, but couldn’t find him. They spoke to family members. The man’s mother, 63, spoke first.

She said her son had lived at her home for most of his adult life. He couldn’t hold down jobs, and hadn’t worked in three years. He hadn’t been suicidal before, but he went through spells of depression.

Today her son had been angrier than usual and yelled at the dog. When the mother went out to protect it, her son accused her of “taking the dog’s side.” After that, he started drinking, which he hadn’t done for five years, and left the house. Also, he’d taken her phone with him.

As officers spoke to the mother, her daughter and son-in-law came home. The son-in-law took officers aside and said the mother was underplaying the story. The man had shoved his mother and thrown alcohol in her face, he said.

Officers spoke to the mother again, and asked about those details.

“I just don’t want him to go to jail,” the mother said. She confirmed the more violent version of the story and grew tearful, saying her son needed mental-health treatment.

As the officers continued the interview, word came over their radios that their colleagues had found the man nearby at a friend’s house. The son-in-law had called the number of the stolen phone, and the friend had answered.

At the second address, officers found the wandering man hanging on the door of the son-in-law’s car, trying to stop him from leaving, pounding on the window and calling him a traitor.

Officers arrested the man, cuffed him and placed him in a patrol car. He wouldn’t stop talking, and insisted he’d done nothing wrong. He was booked into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of misdemeanor assault.

March 18: Generally speaking, drivers lose confrontations with tow trucks.

The dispatch call reported a vehicular assault in a drug store parking lot in the 11500 block of Canyon Road East.

Deputies spoke to a tow truck driver, who said he’d been trying to impound a black Ford Explorer, but the driver refused to get out of the car. As the tow truck driver started the impound process, the man in the Explorer tried to ram the truck.

Two witnesses backed the truck driver’s account. The man in the Explorer had tried to drive away, but the car was too damaged.

Deputies spoke to the man, 36. They noticed a bulge in his hip pocket.

Was he armed? Yes.

Did he have a concealed weapon permit? No.

Deputies told the man he was under arrest and cuffed him.

“It’s a pellet gun,” the man said, adding that he lived in a nearby homeless encampment and used the weapon to shoot rats. He said he hit the tow truck, but it wasn’t intentional.

Deputies frisked the man and found the pellet gun, along with multiple knives. A records check revealed an active warrant for his arrest, and a suspended driver’s license. He was booked into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of reckless assault.

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