Crime

Police Beat: A thrown sandwich, a warning shot, and a stubborn patient

Nov. 11: The unmarried couple came from Arkansas. The scenery changed; their arguments didn’t.

The man was 41. The woman was 29. Their daughter was 2. They stayed at the Tacoma Rescue Mission’s family shelter.

Two officers drove to the site at 2909 S. Adams St., responding to a report of domestic violence. The dispatcher had trouble getting clear information — the woman was saying the man was stealing, and the man was screaming at her in the background.

The woman spoke to officers when they arrived. She said she got a job after the couple came to Tacoma in September. She said she worked and the man did nothing.

She said they moved from Arkansas because the man had an arrest warrant for domestic violence against her.

She said she had $40 in her purse and noticed it was missing. She accused the man of stealing it because he went to the store and bought something, and he had no other money. She called him a thief, she said. The man threw a sandwich at her.

He was holding their daughter at the time, she said. He stood, still holding the child, walked over and slapped the woman in the face.

The daughter, seated nearby, piped up though no one had asked her a question.

“Daddy hit Mommy,” she said.

Officers spoke to the man. He admitted throwing the sandwich, but denied hitting the woman. He said the officers could ask anyone in the mission.

The officer said no one else was in the room when the incident happened. The man agreed that was true.

Officers arrested the man and booked him into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of misdemeanor assault.

Nov. 11: The warning shot was supposed to stop Mom from pounding on the door of her daughter’s apartment — at least that was the story.

Officers picked up the dispatch call — a request for a welfare check. They drove to the 900 block of North Third Street and spoke to a 44-year-old woman standing outside an apartment.

The woman said her daughter was being held against her will inside, and she thought she’d heard a shot fired.

Officers knocked on the apartment door. A man’s voice answered. The man wanted proof that the officers were officers. They gave it. He opened the door.

He was 27. He said his girlfriend’s mother had been pounding on the door and demanding to see her daughter, who wasn’t interested. He said he fired a warning shot out the window to scare her away and to get police to respond more quickly.

The daughter was 20. She had called 911, she said. She said she was fine, not being held against her will. She said her mother was “a crackhead.” She wanted her mother to leave.

The man said he and his girlfriend feared Mom would try to break the door down. He said he had seen Mom sitting in a van on the street outside. He hadn’t noticed that Grandma, 64, was also sitting in the van. He said he didn’t know it was illegal to fire a warning shot.

He showed officers his handgun — a .45-caliber Springfield, with the magazine removed.

Firing a warning shot was illegal in city limits. Officers booked the man into the Fife City Jail on suspicion of reckless endangerment.

Nov. 11: The patient was treated and released, but he wouldn’t leave Tacoma General Hospital.

He was 54, 6 foot 3 inches and about 260 pounds, with a history of police contacts that stretched back more than 25 years.

Officers drove to the emergency room and spoke to staffers who said the man had been discharged but refused to leave his room. It had taken an hour and two security officers to move him out the door.

Officers found the man in the parking lot, sitting in a red wheelchair between the security officers, holding a green bag. The security officers said they wanted the man banned from hospital property unless he was seeking specific medical treatment.

The police officers told the man he was banned from hospital grounds and if he returned he would be arrested. The man said he wasn’t leaving and threatened to go “5150,” a term borrowed from California mental health laws.

Officers again told the man to leave or be arrested. He said he wouldn’t go without his wheelchair and his boom box. He said the hospital guards had stolen his stuff.

The guards said the man had arrived in a wheelchair, but that he’d stolen it from the hospital.

One officer told the man he had one minute to leave. The man said he was a veteran and he would sue. The officer counted off a minute. The man made no move.

The officer cuffed the man, stood him up and put him in a patrol car. He was booked into the Fife City Jail on suspicion of second-degree trespassing.

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