Crime

Police beat: Parking space fight, backyard shower and a runaway shoplifter

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

Aug. 22: The fight over a disabled parking space turned into a full-blown wrestling match.

Officers responded to a reported assault in the parking lot of a grocery store, and drove to the 1900 block of South 72nd Street. They found three store employees holding down a 55-year-old man, who screamed that he had Parkinson’s disease.

Near the employees and the struggling man were two cars parked in adjoining stalls marked for disabled drivers. One car had the distinctive wheelchair placard hanging from the rear view mirror. The other didn’t.

In the second car sat a 40-year-old woman, crying hysterically. Another woman, 43, comforted her. Officers interviewed witnesses and sorted out the mess.

The 43-year-old woman said she’d driven into the parking lot when her friend had an asthma attack. Thinking of helping her friend and little else, she pulled into the disabled stall and opened the passenger door, where her friend was gasping for breath.

At almost the same moment, the man came out of the store and walked to his own car, parked in a disabled stall next to the first.

The man couldn’t get into his car; the passenger door of the other car was blocking him. He started yelling at the women that this was a handicapped stall, and the other drivers had no placard.

The woman who’d been gasping tried to explain, but the man grabbed her legs and tried to pull her out of the car. She kicked at him. He kept pulling. He pulled her pants and underwear down to her ankles.

The other woman tried to stop the man. He wouldn’t stop, or let go of the pants and underwear.

The store employees rushed out to help. All three told police the same story: the man wouldn’t let go of the woman’s clothing. Eventually, they wrestled him to the ground.

The man told police he had Parkinson’s disease. He said the woman in other car started kicking at him when he tried to get into his own car. He said he wasn’t trying to pull her pants down as much as hold himself up. He didn’t remember much more.

The man told officers he didn’t understand why he was being arrested when he was the one who was attacked. Officers told him that wasn’t how it looked to witnesses. They cited him for misdemeanor assault, and handed him off to a medical team from the Tacoma Fire Department. The medical team took the man to a local hospital for evaluation.

Aug. 23: The man’s girlfriend kicked him out of the house after an argument. He wanted to go back in to get his stuff, but his text-message threats landed him in jail instead.

Officers drove to an address in the 7700 block of South Junett Street. It was their second visit of the day. The man, 39, had asked for a police escort to help him get his belongings, but officers hadn’t been able to reach the girlfriend to make the arrangement.

In the interim, the girlfriend, 42, called 911 to report the man was trying to break into the house, and that he was standing naked in the backyard.

When officers arrived, they found the man standing outside, fully clothed. Some of his belongings were stacked by the front door.

The man said his TVs were still inside the house, and he wanted them. Officers asked if he’d been naked in the yard. The man said yes; he said he tried to shower with the garden hose.

Officers spoke to the girlfriend. She said she kicked the man out because he was bringing drugs home. Officers said the woman couldn’t just kick him out without going through the formal process of eviction.

The woman said she understood, but the man had been threatening her. She showed officers text messages from the man, sent that morning.

Some of the threats were obscene. Others were straightforward: “Watch what I mess up,” “I will make sure you lose your house and your job,” and “I’m breaking in.”

The woman said she wanted a protection order.

Interviewed by officers, the man admitted sending the text threats, but said he didn’t intend to harm the woman, only “mess” with her the way she was messing with him.

Officers booked the man into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of making the threats.

Aug. 23: The shoplifter was 15, a runaway trying to walk out of the department store with a pair of shoes.

Officers found her at the Tacoma Mall, watched by loss prevention staff. They checked her records, and called her mother, who sounded surprised, but agreed to pick up the daughter.

During the transfer of custody, the officers grew suspicious. The girl gave one first name, but records showed another, and the mother wasn’t correcting the mistake. The officers released the girl to her mother, but remained suspicious. One of them called Child Protective Services.

A CPS worker explained the discrepancy. The false first name belonged to the girl’s sister. The girl who had been arrested was in foster care, and the mother wasn’t supposed to have custody of her.

Officers called the mother back. She insisted that officers were wrong, and continued to give the name of her other daughter. Officers told her that explanation wasn’t going to cut it; she had to bring her daughter back to police.

The mother complained, but gave in, and brought her daughter back. She admitted lying to police and said she was frustrated with CPS.

Officers booked the girl into Remann Hall on suspicion of shoplifting, and cited the mother for obstructing a police officer.

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