Crime

Police Beat: A hit and run and punch, a suspended license and a fight over bathroom cleaning

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

Dec. 12: The driver tried to talk his way out of an arrest and walked away from the officer. It didn’t help.

The dispatch call came in shortly before 1 a.m. as a reported hit and run. Two officers drove to the intersection of North Fourth Street and Yakima Avenue. They found a 1995 Nissan Altima, silver, with a fresh bash on the back end. No one was inside.

A witness told an officer he’d just seen a dark-colored Jeep Cherokee smack the Altima and drive away. The witness hadn’t seen the driver, but he’d heard yelling and screaming as the Jeep drove off.

Nearby, two officers tracked down the Jeep. A 29-year-old woman was walking away from it, and a 29-year-old man was yelling at her.

The man said he’d been drinking before the officer said a word, the report states. His breath backed him up.

He said he was coming from the Narrows Bridge, though his Jeep was pointed in the opposite direction. He said he thought he was near University Place and Ruston — a long way off. He said he hadn’t hit any other cars.

The officer looked at the Jeep and saw what looked like fresh damage and silver paint chips.

The man staggered as he talked. The officer asked if he was sure he hadn’t hit another car.

The man didn’t answer. He took out his phone and started to dial a number. The officer asked him to stop. The man walked away, holding his phone. The officer grabbed his arm.

The man said he had a right to a phone call and pulled away. The officer grabbed him again. Both men went to the ground. The man said he wasn’t doing anything. A second officer joined in the struggle; it ended with the man cuffed in a patrol car, still protesting that he hadn’t done anything.

The woman who walked away told officers the couple had been drinking at a nearby tavern. The man had hit the Nissan, she said — she tried to get him to stop driving, but he’d punched her in the face.

Officers spoke to a witness — a neighbor who’d heard the commotion outside. He backed up the woman’s story and said he’d seen the punch.

Officers booked the man into the Fife City Jail on suspicion of drunken driving, hit and run of an unattended vehicle, and misdemeanor assault.

Dec. 11: The woman was driving with a suspended license. She said she hadn’t been drinking, but she staggered through the field sobriety test and said she was trying to get back to her kids.

Officers found her shortly before midnight at the intersection of South Orchard and Emerson streets. Her car, a 1998 Toyota Rav 4, was stalled. She said she was out of gas.

She was 36. Her eyes watered and she looked sleepy, the report states. She said someone was coming with a gas can to help her out.

How much did she have to drink?

“Nothing,” she said.

She stepped out of the car and lost her balance. She leaned against the frame and wobbled. She said she was driving from a friend’s house. She couldn’t handle the walk and turn test, or the backward walking test. She agreed to take a breath test, but she didn’t exhale.

The officer told her she was under arrest. The woman asked about her children. She had three of them, she said. They were staying in a hotel room in Fife; they’d been alone since 8 p.m., she said. One was 9, one was 8. The youngest was 6 months old.

The officer booked the woman into the Fife City Jail on suspicion of drunken driving. Fife police officers found the children alone and unharmed in the hotel room. They were referred to state Child Protective Services.

Dec. 8: The disturbance started with a fight over who was supposed to clean the bathroom.

Officers responding to the emergency call drove to an address in the 900 block of South M Street. The place was a clean and sober home for men in recovery.

A 55-year-old man stood on the porch, banging on the door and shouting. A voice from inside yelled back at him.

The man’s eyes watered, and his speech slurred. His eyes were glassy. He said he’d been arguing with the house manager about cleaning the bathroom. He said the manager punched him in the face without warning.

The manager was 65. He looked sober and calm, according to the report. He told officers he left the other man a note earlier, saying it was his turn to clean the bathroom.

The manager said the other man didn’t like the note and forced a confrontation. The two men had been standing chest to chest. The 55-year-old threw the first punch, the manager said. The manager punched him back, and tried to talk him down. The 55-year-old wasn’t going for it, and he came at the manager again. The two men struggled. The manager finally pushed the man out the door of the house.

The officer looked both men over. Both had apparent bruises near their eyes.

It was a judgment call. Based on the two accounts and the demeanor of the two men, the officer arrested the 55-year-old and booked him into the Fife City Jail on suspicion of misdemeanor assault.

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