Crime

Western State Hospital patient stomps on staff member’s head 8 times during assault, police say

A security officer stands on steps at the entrance to Western State Hospital in Lakewood on April 11, 2017. A patient at the mental health facility seriously injured a staff member after punching and stomping on their head Sunday, according to Pierce County prosecutors.
A security officer stands on steps at the entrance to Western State Hospital in Lakewood on April 11, 2017. A patient at the mental health facility seriously injured a staff member after punching and stomping on their head Sunday, according to Pierce County prosecutors. Associated Press file, 2017

A Western State Hospital patient stomped on the head of a staff member multiple times during an assault at the Lakewood mental health facility, according to Pierce County prosecutors.

The 19-year-old man was charged Tuesday in Superior Court with first-degree assault and third-degree assault. He was ordered held in the Pierce County Jail until a competency hearing scheduled for Sept. 4.

According to charging documents:

The man was committed to Western State after assaulting a law enforcement officer in King County last year. Criminal charges were dismissed because he was found incompetent to stand trial Feb. 28 and he was civilly committed to the hospital.

As a patient watched television Sunday while accompanied by the staff member, the 19-year-old came into the room and wanted to change the channel. The staff member told the teen the show had about 15 minutes left, and the teen could watch whatever he wanted when it was over.

The staff member left the room, and the teen followed her. He punched her from behind and knocked her to the floor. Then he stood over her and continued to hit her.

A witness pushed the 260-pound teen off the staff member and knocked him over. The teen chased after that person, who ran away to protect himself.

The teen came back to the staff member and stomped on her head at least eight times while threatening to kill her. A staff member tried to calm the teen, who eventually returned to his room.

A witness asked the teen what had happened, and he answered, “She was harassing me and I just lost it.”

Officers described the staff member’s facial and head injuries as “significant,” though they were not believed to be life-threatening.

As officers took the teen to jail, he tried to bite one of them and then spit on him.

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