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November 02, 2003
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Tasers Don't Subdue Subject; Officers Injured During Arrest

Tasers don't subdue subject; 2 officers injured during arrest

SCOTT GUTIERREZ THE OLYMPIAN

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A 21-year-old man faces assault charges after a scuffle that injured two police officers.

Several officers were called Wednesday night to subdue the man, who was shouting, smashing his head against furniture and ransacking his girlfriend's apartment at 2800 Limited Lane N.W.

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Eventually the man was given several shots from electronic Tasers -- stun weapons that normally drop unruly offenders to the ground. But they had no effect on the man, and officers wrestled him to the floor and forced him into handcuffs.

The scuffle caused other problems for the department. An officer en route to back up his colleagues skidded on wet pavement and crashed into a tow truck at a stoplight at Harrison Avenue and Kenyon Street.

No one was seriously injured in the scuffle or the collision, but it made for a strenuous night.

"With the cold weather, hopefully things calm down," Olympia police Sgt. Keith Thuline said late Thursday.

Charles B. Smith of Olympia was booked into Thurston County Jail for investigation of three counts of third-degree assault against the officers. Police were awaiting results of a blood test to determine whether the man was under the influence of drugs.

Other people who were at the apartment said he had smoked marijuana beforehand, police reports say. One of the witnesses suspected the pot was spiked, police reports say.

Police were called to the third-floor apartment about 10:30 p.m. amid reports of a man going "crazy." Officers heard a woman screaming inside when they arrived.

They confronted the man inside a bedroom with their Tasers drawn. Officers told him to "freeze," but the 6-foot-3-inch, 220-pound man lunged at them, police reports say.

Officers fired the Tasers twice, delivering quick jolts of electricity. The man remained standing and seemed unfazed, reports say.

Instead, he again advanced on officers, swinging his fists and striking one officer in the face. Officers tried a few more times to subdue him with Tasers to no avail, reports say.

Several officers piled on the man and forced him into handcuffs. He also was placed in leg restraints so officers could carry him downstairs while he struggled, reports say.

"It gets very scary," Thuline said. "That's where your training comes into play."

One officer's lip was bloodied, and another officer was scraped up, reports say.

Furniture inside had been broken and overturned, and a door was smashed, reports say.

Smith, who was bleeding from his head, was taken to Providence St. Peter Hospital. He later told officers that he couldn't remember what happened. The girlfriend told officers that Smith had tucked her into bed and then entered her bathroom. She heard strange noises and got up to find him smashing his head against the toilet bowl, reports say.

Police reports showed at least seven officers arrived at the incident. The officer involved in the collision had the vehicle's lights and sirens on and had a green light, but skidded on the pavement and lost control. The front end was smashed and the tow truck's driver's side was crunched, reports say.

All officer-involved accidents are reviewed by the department, and discipline can follow depending on the findings, Thuline said.

The cruiser was one of the department's oldest. Due to the age and damage, the department has decided to replace it because repairs wouldn't be cost-effective, Thuline said.



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