Police Beat: A stray shot, a threat-hurling trespasser, and a hammer to the head

If you witness a crime, here’s what to do

Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.
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Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.

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

Jan. 1: The New Year’s party ended with a gunshot at the wrong target.

The dispatch call reported a shooting. A sheriff’s deputy drove to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Enumclaw. He spoke to a man in the emergency room.

The man said he and two friends went four-wheeling earlier in the day, and found a partial clearing, ideal for some impromptu target practice.

After squeezing off rounds for a while, they decided to call it quits and put away the gear. The man said he grabbed his handgun, turned toward the back of his truck to put it away, slipped on a patch of ice and heard a shot.

The gun went off accidentally, the man said. He said he hadn’t realized it was loaded. He didn’t feel anything at first, but one of his friends walked over and looked at the man’s leg. It was bleeding.

Any drugs or alcohol involved?

The man said no. He said his friends bandaged him and brought him to the hospital.

The deputy looked at the wound, judging that the bullet had gone through the front of the man’s leg and exited near his ankle.

The deputy checked the story with the man’s two friends. Both said their backs were turned when they heard the shot. They checked the man to see if he was injured, and saw the wound, they said.

The deputy decided the shooting was accidental and filed a report for information purposes.

Dec. 31: The man claimed to know important people. The Tacoma officer wasn’t impressed.

The dispatch call reported an unwanted party at Allenmore Hospital. A man was refusing to leave and demanding pain medication. Three officers drove to 1901 S. Union Ave. and walked inside.

A man, 33, walked toward them.

Was it true he was refusing to leave?

“Of course not,” the man said.

The officer said security staff at the hospital wanted him to leave. The man said he would. He walked toward one officer — too close. The officer told him to back up.

The man said he would leave, but he demanded a ride to the Tacoma Rescue Mission.

The officer said he had other dispatch calls pending, and couldn’t take time out for that. Either way, it was time to go.

The man said he worked at the mission. Again, he demanded a ride. Again, the officer refused.

The man said he knew the mayor of Tacoma. He asked for the officer’s name. He said the officer would regret not giving him a ride.

Outside, the man asked other officers for a ride. Again, he was told that the officers had other business, and it was time to leave the hospital property.

The man said he wasn’t leaving. He said he needed to call for a ride. The officers told him to go ahead, but make the call somewhere else.

The man walked back toward the hospital doors. The officers stopped him, and told him he would be arrested if he didn’t leave.

The man wouldn’t go. He kept arguing. A short struggle followed before the man was cuffed. Another struggle followed before he was stowed in a patrol car.

The man spewed insults and slurs. He would get the officer fired. He would make the officer pay. He would change the officer’s entire life. He would put effort into it.

“I’m going to feel bad about what I can do to you,” he said.

He was booked into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of criminal trespassing and interfering with police.

Jan. 2: The report made the deputy sound like a therapist.

“How did getting hit in the head make you feel?”

The dispatch call had reported an assault with a hammer. Sheriff’s deputies drove to the 11800 block of 200th Avenue Court East, south of Bonney Lake.

They spotted the victim first — the man who had called 911. He said the alleged assailant was nearby. He said the attack took place the night before.

Deputies looked at the side of the man’s head and saw an obvious wound from something blunt.

The man said the assault happened the night before. He had stopped at a friend’s house when the attacker pulled up behind him.

They had an old beef that had started on social media, the man said. The attacker was mad because the man had spoken to his girlfriend a few weeks back.

The man said the attacker pulled something out of the trunk of his car and said, “You still want to do this?” and hit the man in the head with a hammer.

“How did getting hit in the head make you feel?” the deputy reportedly asked.

“I saw stars,” the man said.

The deputies took the man with them to identify the assailant. Soon, they spotted him standing by a car outside the address. They told him he was under arrest.

“What am I being detained for?”

“You are being detained for hitting someone in the head with a hammer.”

“I didn’t do that. I didn’t hit no one in the head with a hammer.”

Deputies asked the man what he’d been doing the previous night. The man said he stopped at a friend’s house. He saw the other man, who he claimed had been texting his girlfriend.

“I just wanted him to stop,” the man said.

When had the texts been sent? About a month earlier, the man said.

What about the hammer?

“He’s just crazy,” the man said.

Deputies booked the man into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of second-degree assault.

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.