Crime

Police beat: A traffic scofflaw, a stranger with a hammer, and late-night parking

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

April 17: Pop quiz — your driver’s license is suspended, you’re on probationary status and you’re ignoring a court directive that requires you to use a car equipped with an ignition-interlock device if you get behind the wheel.

You’re stuck in a traffic jam. What do you do?

A. Sit in the jam like all the other weary drivers.

B. Pull out of the jam into the center turn lane, kick up dust and gravel and pass everyone, including a police patrol car.

The Lakewood woman chose option B. She drove a 2015 Mini Cooper and passed all the snarled traffic on Port of Tacoma Road. Other drivers shook their heads.

The Tacoma officer watched, pulled into the center lane, flicked on his emergency lights and tried to catch up. The Mini Cooper abruptly squeezed into traffic farther ahead. The officer heard the bellow of an air horn from a tractor-trailer and saw the truck’s driver waving his arms and yelling.

The Mini Cooper changed lanes again, seemingly trying to hide. The officer, who knew the trick, pulled ahead of the jam and waited. Soon, the car emerged. The officer pulled it over, spoke to the woman and asked for her license, registration and proof of insurance.

The woman, 42, said she didn’t have any of that stuff with her; she’d left it all at home. She said she had her passport. As she pulled it out of her wallet, the officer noticed what looked like a driver’s license.

Reluctantly, the woman handed it over. It was a state identification card, not a license. The officer ran a records check.

The woman’s license was suspended. She was on probationary status. She was supposed to drive with an ignition interlock. The car didn’t have one.

The woman said her other car had the device, but she drove this one instead.

As the officer spoke to the woman, she called her husband and said she was being arrested. The officer left the Mini Cooper with the husband. The woman was booked into the Pierce County Jail for driving with a suspended license and violating the ignition-interlock restriction.

April 17: The Eatonville woman, 84, wasn’t expecting visitors at 1 a.m. Someone was banging on the front door.

The woman opened it and saw a younger woman, 35, with a frightened expression, holding a stapler and a hammer.

The woman let the stranger in. She talked but made no sense. The woman called 911.

A sheriff’s deputy arrived and spoke to the younger woman. She said she’d been staying at a friend’s house nearby. The friend was supposed to come home from the bar, but he was four hours late. The woman said her life was in danger.

Why?

Someone had stapled electric wires to the walls, she said. She could be watched. At first she said she was alone in the house. Then she said three people came to the house and bolted the door from the outside to keep her in, so she ran.

The story made no sense. The deputy told the woman he would try to help her, but she had to leave. Where did she want to go?

The woman said she wanted to go to a hotel. The deputy took her to his patrol car, where she sat. He asked for identification. She opened her bag and gave it.

The deputy noticed a couple of pill bottles in the bag. He asked to look at them. One bottle had no label. The other, a prescription for Clonazepam, had someone else’s name on it. The woman said that was because she and the person named on the label shared the prescription.

The pills were intended to treat seizures and panic attacks. They also qualified as a controlled substance.

The woman had no proof that it was her prescription. The officer told her she was under arrest. He booked her into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance.

April 19: The Graham convenience store was closed. The sheriff’s deputy, driving past the 30400 block of Mountain Highway East at 2:55 a.m., noticed a car parked behind it that didn’t look right.

The deputy pulled into the parking lot. Abruptly, the car started, crossed into the front parking lot and rolled into a ditch. The deputy watched. No one got out of the car.

The deputy inched forward, shining a spotlight. The passenger door opened. Two people clambered out of the car: a man, 30, and a woman, 22.

The man cursed himself, saying he didn’t know why he’d tried to drive away.

The deputy suspected a burglary at first, but he was no longer sure. He cuffed the man and the woman. They didn’t argue or complain. The deputy interviewed them separately.

The woman said she and the man were friends. The man had been taking her to his house.

Why had they stopped at the closed convenience store? The woman said the man had stopped to use his phone. She said she saw the patrol car and told the man not to drive away but he did it anyway.

The man said he parked at the store so he and the woman could use heroin, but the patrol car appeared before they got started. He panicked and started to drive away, he said.

Where was the heroin? The man said he didn’t know and that it was only a small amount. The deputy searched the car and didn’t find any.

The deputy ran a records check. The man’s name came back with clear status. The woman had an active arrest warrant from the state Department of Corrections.

The deputy released the man at the scene after calling for a tow truck. He booked the woman into the Pierce County Jail on the state warrant.

Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486 @seanrobinsonTNT
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