Police Beat: An unfortunate Uber event, an auto-shop fight, and a belligerent teen driver

Police Beat is compiled from reports to local law enforcement agencies.
Police Beat is compiled from reports to local law enforcement agencies.

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

Nov. 29: Dad drove with his daughter’s Uber credentials. It worked well enough until he got caught.

The Tacoma officers were working a routine patrol shift when they spotted a 2011 Chevrolet Malibu driving through the 1400 block of East 25th Street.

The driver’s-side headlight was out. The officers pulled the car over and spoke to the driver, 44, who had a mobile phone in his hand.

One officer asked for the man’s license, registration and proof of insurance. The man replied that he had no valid driver’s license or any identification. He added that he knew he had an active misdemeanor arrest warrant.

The car belonged to his daughter, the man said. He’d just called her so she could come and pick it up.

Officers cuffed the man and checked his story. They soon found the warrant.

The daughter, 21, arrived after a few minutes. Officers told her why her father was being arrested, and why they’d stopped the car in the first place.

The daughter, listed as the car’s registered owner, said she planned to get the headlight fixed immediately. Officers checked her driver’s license. It was valid. They released the car to her.

On the way to the Pierce County Jail, the man explained that he was driving on his daughter’s Uber account. He’d been picking up shifts for a month. He showed the officers his daughter’s Uber card and asked them to give it to her.

Officers booked the man into the jail on suspicion of driving without a valid license or identification, as well as the arrest warrant.

Nov. 27: Members of rival tribes get annoyed by loud music just like everyone else — but the historical enmity adds extra heat..

The dispatch call reported an assault. A sheriff’s deputy drove to an auto repair shop in the 11100 block of Steele Street South. He spoke to a man who said he’d brought his car in for repairs.

The man said he walked into the shop to speak to the owner when another customer confronted him, complaining that the music on the man’s phone was too loud. The customer had left the scene.

The argument ramped up quickly, the man said. The customer pushed the man into a wall, punched him in the face and head, and flailed at him with a broom.

The fight turned into a wrestling match. The customer shoved the man into an auto hoist, knocking him down. The customer picked up a wrench to continue the attack, but the owner took it away.

The deputy looked the man over, seeing a cut lip, a lacerated thumb, and a scrape on the man’s back, reportedly from the broom handle. He looked at the section of the shop where the fight occurred, and saw disarray.

While the deputy interviewed the man, the customer returned. The deputy spoke to him.

The customer told a different version of the story. He said the man attacked him first. He said the music on the man’s phone was too loud, and the man refused to turn it down. The man reportedly added ethnic taunts.

It turned out that both men were originally from Kenya, though they belonged to different tribes. The customer said his tribe was persecuted by the other tribe. The customer said the man was the one who picked up the broomstick first. He admitted brandishing the wrench, but he said it was a matter of self-defense.

The deputy looked the customer over and saw no injuries. He then spoke to the shop owner.

The owner’s story largely matched the first man’s account. He said he heard the two men arguing about “political” things, but he didn’t see the fight start.

He intervened when he saw the customer pick up the wrench, he said. He said it looked like the customer planned to kill the man with it.

The deputy cuffed the customer and told him he was under arrest. The customer complained that the shop owner was a member of the same tribe as the other man; that was why he was taking the man’s side.

The customer was booked into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of second-degree assault.

Nov. 26: The 18-year-old driver appeared to be gunning for high marks in a stupid-move contest.

A sheriff’s deputy spotted him in the 17800 block of Pacific Avenue South, repeatedly fishtailing a pickup truck in a shopping center parking lot.

The deputy rolled up, flicked on his emergency lights and stopped the truck. He asked the driver for his license, registration and insurance.

The 18-year-old said he didn’t have a license with him. The deputy told him to step out of the truck. The driver got angry. The deputy told him to turn around. The driver refused at first. Eventually he was cuffed.

The driver swore. Why was the deputy wasting his time? Why wasn’t he arresting tweekers?

Eventually the driver admitted he had a learner’s permit, but he didn’t have it with him.

His girlfriend stepped out of the truck and interrupted. The deputy told her to step away. She didn’t.

At that moment, a stranger drove up and intervened, saying the driver’s mother was his employee. He started talking to the driver. The deputy, still trying to get basic information from the driver, was told to “hold on.”

The stranger left. The deputy gathered enough information to run the driver’s name through records. They revealed that the driver had obtained his learner’s permit two weeks earlier.

The driver kept asking to speak to his mother. The deputy told the driver he was an adult now. That meant adult consequences.

The driver’s mother arrived at the scene. The deputy explained the situation: her son was going to jail for reckless driving and driving without a license.

The mother said she’d just helped her son get his permit. The deputy left the truck in her care.

News Tribune investigative reporter Sean Robinson won the 2016 Ted Natt First Amendment award for ongoing scrutiny of the Pierce County Prosecutor’s office. Since 2000, he has produced award-winning coverage related to criminal justice, government accountability and public disclosure.