Police Beat: Uneasy prowlers, an anonymous trespasser and a curb-jumper

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

Aug. 22: The prowlers said a light on one of their bikes stopped working. That was why they pulled into a dark alley at 2:30 a.m. to fix it.

The call started with a report of men with flashlights checking out garages. Officers drove to the 5600 block of South Junett Street and peered into the alley. They saw three men on bicycles.

At the sight of flashing emergency lights, one of the men took off. Another officer caught up with him.

The first two men said they were just out riding when one of the bike lights malfunctioned, so they stopped to fix it. They said they weren’t looking into anyone’s garage.

Officers ran records checks on all three men. They were 35, 27 and 25. The 25-year-old had an active arrest warrant out of Sumner.

Officers cuffed him and read him his rights. They asked whether he had anything in his pockets.

“I have meth pipes,” the man said.

The two pipes were made of glass. The bulbous ends were blackened. What did the man use them for?

Smoking meth, the man said. He’d had some earlier in the day.

Officers booked the 25-year-old into the Fife City Jail on the prior warrant and suspicion of possessing drug paraphernalia. The other two men were released at the scene.

Aug. 22: The trespasser wouldn’t give his last name or his date of birth. He struggled to stand. The police report listed his name as John Doe.

The store clerk at the convenience store in the 1400 block of Puyallup Avenue told officers the man wouldn’t leave. The clerk thought the man was drunk.

Officers spoke to John Doe. His breath was a toxic cloud.

He said he couldn’t speak English. He gave a first name and nothing else. He trailed off into streams of Spanish. He carried no identification.

One of the officers used a mobile phone with an app for instant translation. The words, written in English, popped out in Spanish with a clear meaning: The man was banned from the store. The man said he understood. Officers released him and drove away.

Three minutes later, the store clerk called. John Doe was back. Officers turned around.

At the store, they cuffed him and told him he was under arrest. The man nodded.

Officers drove him to the Fife City Jail and booked him on suspicion of trespassing. One officer read the man his rights, and asked if he understood them.

“I don’t want to understand,” the man said.

Aug. 20: The woman was heading home to Federal Way, but she didn’t take the straightest line.

At 10:47 p.m., a security officer at the University of Washington Tacoma campus called police to say a blue Dodge minivan ran a stop sign and jumped a curb at South 17th and Market streets. The security officer said he tried to flag the van down, but the driver ignored him.

A police officer soon spotted the van at South 21st Street and Pacific Avenue. He tailed the van and pulled it over as it crossed the Highway 509 suspension bridge, walked to the driver’s door and caught an overwhelming whiff of perfume.

The driver was 45. Her eyes were bloodshot. She said she’d been visiting a friend who lived at South 84th and M streets. She preferred taking the side streets to avoid traffic, she said.

The officer said the freeways weren’t too crowded at 11 p.m. on a Wednesday. The woman didn’t understand why the officer cared. The officer said he was trying to understand why the woman would go so far out of her way.

The woman wanted to know why she was being pulled over. The officer explained.

By this time, the UW security officer had arrived. He said that was the van he’d seen a few minutes earlier.

The woman said she hadn’t been drinking. Her story changed several times. She said she didn’t run a stop sign or jump a curb. Then she said she did, and apologized. Then she asked why she was being pulled over.

The officer told her again. The woman denied jumping the curb. The officer asked her to get out of the car. The woman wore flip-flops, and swayed as she stood.

She had trouble with field sobriety tests. It took several tries before she could follow a light with her eyes. She screwed up the walk-and-turn test. She stumbled. She tried the one-leg test, raised one foot and flapped her arms like a bird.

She consented to a breath-alcohol test. She blew a 0.111, above the legal limit of .08. She continued to say she hadn’t been drinking.

The officer arrested her on suspicion of drunken driving. The woman was upset. She said she hadn’t consumed any alcohol. She said she wasn’t a criminal.

The officer drove her to the Fife City Jail. Again, the woman said she hadn’t been drinking. She denied ever being arrested for drunken driving before, even after the officer showed her a copy of her driving record, which listed a prior arrest for the same offense. At the jail, she took two more breath tests. The results: 0.126 and 0.134.