Crime

Police Beat: A dog-walker, a stolen phone, and a tow-away zone

Dec. 30: The Tacoma man was walking his dog when the stranger decided to mess with him.

The stranger wore an Oakland Raiders baseball cap. He had a tattoo on the front of his neck. He followed the dog walker, making strange noises.

The dog walker was 37. He turned to the stranger.

“Can I help you with something?”

“I think I can take you,” the stranger answered, and flicked his hand at the dog walker’s groin.

The stranger punched a street sign, saying he would do the same to the dog walker.

The dog walker tried to move away. He saw something in the stranger’s hand and heard a clicking sound. Fearing a folding knife, the dog walker rushed to the nearby entrance of his apartment building, shut the door behind him and called police.

Officers drove to the 100 block of North Tacoma Avenue. At first, they couldn’t find the stranger. Later in the evening, a second call brought officers to the area.

They spoke to the dog walker again. On a second search, they found the stranger, walking with another man.

One officer spoke to the stranger. She cuffed him and told him she was investigating, not arresting. She asked whether the stranger had a knife. The stranger said he didn’t.

The stranger’s friend interrupted, asking what was going on. The officers told him to step away and that he was free to go.

Meanwhile, the dog walker showed up, pointed to the stranger and said, “That’s him — that’s the guy who did it.”

The stranger’s friend heated up. He yelled at the dog walker and called him a punk. An officer stepped in and told the man to move away.

The man wouldn’t go. He demanded to know what the officers were going to do with his friend. The officers again told him to go. He didn’t; instead he started yelling.

One officer told the man he was interfering with police business and could be arrested if he didn’t leave.

The man wouldn’t leave. Officers arrested him. He refused to give his name, and he carried no identification.

Officers spoke to the stranger.

“You won’t find a knife on me,” the stranger said. “All I did was nut-check him.”

The stranger told a long story. He grew up in an abusive household. He’d broken up with his wife. He was trying to help her raise his 2-year-old son. He said he had a drinking problem; it affected his decisions. He apologized for his actions.

Officers booked both men into the Fife City Jail; the stranger on suspicion of harassment, the second man on suspicion of obstructing a police officer.

Dec. 29: The dispatch call reported a stolen cellphone in a black case.

The owner was tracking the GPS signal; whoever took her phone was still in the area.

Officers drove to a restaurant in the 6300 block of Sixth Avenue. They spoke to the phone’s owner, a 19-year-old woman. She described the suspected thief — a man about 25, 5 feet 5 inches, with curly hair, wearing a New York Knicks jacket. She showed them the phone’s tracking signal.

Scanning the area, officers checked a bowling alley next door and spotted a man near the south entrance. He wore a Knicks jacket and matched the description on other points.

The man asked why he was being stopped. He said police were always harassing him and that he was tired of it.

Officers told the man he matched the description of a suspect in a theft and that they intended to search him. They cuffed him and patted him down.

The man wore a fanny pack. An officer asked permission to search it. The man asked why he was being harassed and whether the officer had a search warrant. He said the fanny pack wasn’t his; a friend just gave it to him. What was the friend’s name? The man didn’t know.

Meanwhile, officers sent a side message through dispatchers to the phone’s owner: Ring the phone.

Inside the fanny pack, a ringtone blared. Officers found the phone. They brought the owner to the scene. She punched in the security code. The phone responded. The woman had pictures of herself on the screen.

Officers arrested the man in the Knicks jacket. He said the phone wasn’t his. They booked him into the Fife City Jail on suspicion of possession of stolen property.

Dec. 27: The club-goers flocked to a hot spot on South 84th Street and parked their cars at a nearby hotel. The trouble started when their cars got towed.

Officers drove to the 8600 block of South Hosmer Street and walked into the hotel lobby. The clerk was in the office, still on the phone with 911 dispatchers. One man and two women were standing at the counter.

The clerk told officers she was fine. She pointed to the man and said he was the problem.

The man was 23. He started talking, loudly. He complained about his car being towed. An officer started talking. The man talked louder. He said he didn’t have to leave and that he wanted the clerk’s name and her supervisor’s name.

Three officers told the man he needed to calm down and leave. The man kept yelling. Two officers walked him out the lobby door. The man yelled at one of the women nearby and tried to go back into the lobby.

Officers told the man to leave the property or face arrest for trespassing. The man said he didn’t have to leave. He said people who came to the club nearby always parked their cars at this hotel.

Officers booked the man into the Fife City Jail on suspicion of criminal trespassing.

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