Police Beat: A false name, a naked stranger and a bad Tinder date

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. 13: When you’re caught in a lie, it’s tough to persuade a cop that you’re suddenly made of truth.

The Tacoma officer started following the red Honda Accord at 2:16 a.m. as it headed through the 8400 block of South Hosmer Street. A rolling records check showed the title had been canceled back in November.

The officer pulled the car over, spoke to the driver and asked for the usual: driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. He explained that the title had been canceled.

The driver led with confusion.

“How can the title be canceled if I just bought the car?”

The officer said he didn’t know and asked again for the man’s license and registration.

The man, 24, said he had a license but not with him. He gave a name and a birth date.

The officer ran a records check. The name came back. The photo associated with it didn’t look like the driver. However, another photo linked to a different name was an obvious match.

The photo traced to an active arrest warrant from the state Department of Corrections. The officer ran a second records check associated with the name. More hits came back, with two more warrants and a detailed description, including a three-dot tattoo on the man’s right hand.

The officer walked back to the car, glanced at the driver’s hand and spotted the three dots. The man had lied, the officer said — get out of the car.

Cuffed and arrested, the man tried again to give the false name. The officer said it was no good: He’d already linked the man’s face to his real name through state records. Apart from the warrants and the lying, the man’s driver’s license was suspended.

The man caved. He admitted lying. He said he knew about the warrants and hoped to dodge them. He offered a deal. He could point the officer to illegal guns and drug dealers.

The officer wasn’t interested. He booked the man into the Pierce County Jail on the warrants and suspicion of obstructing a police officer.

Jan. 12: The 911 caller said a naked stranger entered her home, stole her car keys and threatened to kill her husband.

Multiple sheriff’s deputies hustled to the 4900 block of 80th Street East in Midland. As they drove, other 911 callers reported a naked man running through yards near the scene.

Reaching the address, deputies spoke to the woman and her husband. The man said they had been sleeping when they heard commotion in the living room.

Moments later, the naked stranger, a young man, walked into their bedroom and demanded car keys. The husband stood and told the intruder to get out.

The stranger attacked. The two men wrestled their way into the living room. The intruder shouted at the woman, telling her to give up the keys or he would kill her husband.

The woman gave up the keys. The stranger ran outside. He tried to open the car door, but another vehicle drove up. Someone inside shouted at the stranger, who dropped the keys and ran.

Other deputies in the area soon tracked the man down. He was huddled on a porch nearby.

The man, 19, said he didn’t remember anything after taking acid — LSD — about six hours earlier.

Deputies booked him into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of robbery and burglary.

Jan. 11: The Tinder date was getting out of hand. The woman wanted to go home, but the man behind the wheel was going the wrong way.

She called 911 at 3:47 a.m. She said she was in a silver truck near the intersection of Canyon Road East and 72nd Street East, and the driver was refusing to take her home.

Deputies responded. The woman kept talking to dispatchers, updating her location.

Moments later, a deputy spotted the truck near Golden Given Road East. The driver swerved back and forth in the lane, nearly hitting the curb. The deputy flicked on his emergency lights and pulled it over.

He spoke to the driver, told him to get out of the car, cuffed him and spoke to the woman. She said she met the man on Tinder, and they had dated twice. They had met earlier at her house in Lakewood and gone out drinking, stopping at several places.

She said the man was supposed to take her home, but they’d been driving around for an hour. She told him to take her home, but he kept driving the wrong way, and she didn’t know why.

The man, 26, said he’d been on five dates with the woman. He said they’d been out to three places tonight.

He was trying to take her home, he said, but he’d lost his way and didn’t want to look up the address on his phone while driving.

The deputy looked the man over. He smelled and sounded drunk. He took a breath test at a nearby sheriff’s precinct and blew a .15, almost twice the legal limit of .08.

The man had no previous citations for DUI. The deputy drove him home and cited him. The woman was given a ride back to her home in Lakewood.

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.