Crime

Police Beat: A hidden flask, fighting neighbors and a chase at the Graffiti Garage

Editor’s note: Compiled from reports to Tacoma police.

July 13: The woman couldn’t drive a straight line or walk one, and she carried a spare dose of joy.

An officer spotted her at 1 a.m., driving a red 1999 Ford pickup. The truck pinballed through East Portland Avenue and bounced against the curbs in the 4000 block.

The officer switched on his lights and followed. The truck halted briefly, turned down a side street, drove over a curb and onto a sidewalk, edged back into the road and stopped.

The woman was 31, from Spanaway. She stood. She was unsteady. She admitted she’d been drinking at the casino. She said she didn’t feel impaired.

The officer gave her a breath test. She failed. He booked her into the Fife City Jail on suspicion of drunken driving. At the jail, staffers asked her if she was carrying anything. She gave up the flask in her bra.

July 12: The neighbors at the apartment complex were fighting again. Dueling stories landed one of them in jail.

The dispatch call reported a fight and a threat to get a gun. Two officers drove to the apartments in the 1800 block of South 84th Street. As they arrived, they saw a man running away. He was 23.

The officer told the man to stop. The man said he didn’t do anything and that he was going home. The officer told him to stop again.

The man ran into his apartment and yelled for his mother. He came back out. The officer cuffed him. The man started crying.

He said his neighbor taunted him constantly, calling him names all the time. The neighbor had crossed a line tonight.

“He was pushing up on my mom,” the man said. “I had enough!”

The man said the neighbor punched him in the face. The officer noticed a reddish splotch on the man’s chin.

The man said he hit back, punching the neighbor to make him get away.

The officer spoke to the man’s mother. She said the neighbor never approached her.

“I want to stay out of this mess,” she said.

She added that she didn’t see the fight, but that she was annoyed that someone had called police suggesting that her son had a gun, because he didn’t. Someone was trying to get her son in trouble.

The second officer spoke to the neighbor. He was 27. He denied hitting anyone. The second officer spoke to a witness, who said the neighbor punched the man in the face. The second officer arrested the neighbor.

The neighbor said he and the man had clashed before. He stopped answering questions. Officers drove the neighbor to the Fife City Jail. On the way, the neighbor said he was going to press charges against the officer because the patrol car was too hot.

He said he would have the officer’s badge. He said he would file a complaint.

At the jail, he was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor assault. He read the paperwork that described his rights and turned to the officer.

“I just wanted to make sure that is not saying I am the devil’s spawn,” he said. “I’ll see you again.”

The officer asked what he meant.

“In court!” the man said.

July 8: Officers still call it the Graffiti Garage, a pseudonym for a downtown space on 723 Broadway where urban art was legal until last year.

The dispatch call came in at 10:30 p.m. as reported vandalism. Two officers drove to area and spoke to a security officer who said the suspects were seen in the garage.

The officers drove over, saw no one, and drove to Ninth and Broadway to respond to another disturbance. A woman on the street shouted that there was no bus service to Seattle and that she needed a ride.

It took a few minutes to disentangle from the conversation; meanwhile, the security guard approached the officers and said they’d missed the suspects, who had hidden behind a pillar in the graffiti garage. The officers drove back; a second security officer flagged them down and said one of the suspects was driving away.

Officers saw a 1999 Honda Civic, black. They stopped it. The driver was a 22-year-old woman. She matched the description given by security officers, who said they’d seen her with a spray paint can. They’d seen a man with the woman, but there was no sign of him.

The woman said she’d been “acting like a stupid 22-year-old.” She said the missing man was her boyfriend. They’d been dating for two or three months.

She said they had been walking around after she picked him up, and he had spray cans with him. He sprayed a sign on a bridge. They walked to the garage. They both sprayed more.

At that point, she said, two men — the security officers — approached them and got in her boyfriend’s face. Her boyfriend told her to leave and that he would take responsibility. She drove away — that was when the police officers stopped her.

The woman said her boyfriend lived with his mother near Wright Park. Officers looked for him and couldn’t find him. The woman showed the officers the places where the graffiti had been sprayed. Some of the signatures included a Twitter handle. Officers checked it and found pictures posted under the handle.

Officers cited the woman for graffiti vandalism and took her home. They listed the man as a suspect, but found no trace of him.

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