Deputies say the man drove erratically in a stolen van, repeatedly rammed a patrol car and took a bullet in the shoulder.
Then, as the 37-year-old man was being taken into custody, he grabbed a beer.
“As they are wrestling him to the ground, he takes a big swig of beer,” Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said Monday. “Do we believe alcohol was a factor? We would say yes.”
The last gulp capped a pursuit that started shortly before 2 a.m. near Buckley and ended in the 23400 block of South Prairie Road.
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The Puyallup-area man was taken to Madigan Army Medical Center for treatment of his injuries, Troyer said. After he’s released, he’ll be booked into the Pierce County Jail in connection with the morning incident.
The deputy who shot the man was knocked to the ground when his patrol car was rammed. He sought medical treatment later Monday.
The deputy was placed on paid administrative leave, standard procedure when a deputy uses deadly force, Troyer said. The department did not release the deputy’s name but said he’d been a member of the force for two years.
Troyer gave this account of what happened:
The incident began when the deputy stopped a van recently reported stolen from an automotive business in Buckley. The van was speeding, was traveling erratically and had a blown taillight.
The deputy got out of his patrol car, and the driver threw the van in reverse. It hit the patrol car, which knocked the deputy to the ground. The driver then rammed the patrol car a second time.
The deputy fired his gun. Investigators believe the bullets hit the van but not the driver, who took off from the 23800 block of 112th Street East and tried to ram another patrol car responding to the scene.
Deputies chased the man to South Prairie Road, where the first deputy bumped the van and caused it to spin out. The van stopped but then again drove toward the deputy’s car.
The deputy, who was behind the wheel of his car, fired one round at the driver, hitting him in the shoulder. Other deputies pulled the man out of the van and took him into custody – after the swig of beer.
Troyer said the shooting appears to be within department guidelines, which allow a deputy to fire his weapon if he believes his life is in danger.
“The guy was obviously in a not-going-to-be-taken-alive mode,” Troyer said of the van driver.
Monday’s incident was not the first time the man had a run-in with deputies.
On Oct. 18, 2004, deputies tried to pull the man over. At one point during the pursuit, the man swerved into oncoming traffic and rammed a patrol vehicle, according to court documents.
He eventually lost control of the car, which left the roadway and got stuck in the mud.
The man pleaded guilty to third-degree assault, attempting to elude a pursuing police vehicle and possession of stolen property, and was sentenced to 14 months in prison.
Stacey Mulick: 253-597-8268