Deputy could face charges over Mill Creek crash

MILL CREEK — A King County sheriff’s deputy could face criminal charges after an on-duty collision in Mill Creek in February.

Mark J. Rockwood, 47, allegedly was under the influence of prescription medication when he crashed his patrol car, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The investigation recently was forwarded to prosecutors. No charges had been filed as of Monday.

Rockwood reportedly told investigators he was sick and had taken sleeping pills. A search of his patrol car reportedly turned up medications for treating colds, heart and stomach problems and allergies. An empty bottle for anti-anxiety medicine was found in the trunk.

Multiple witnesses called 911 the morning of Feb. 28 to report seeing a Shoreline Police Department car being driven erratically through south Snohomish County. Before the crash, Rockwood was assigned to the city of Shoreline, which contracts with King County for police services.

The 911 calls started about 6:15 a.m. and followed Rockwood as he drove through Lynnwood, unincorporated Everett and into Mill Creek.

One witness told police she saw Rockwood slumped in his patrol car at 6:50 a.m. at an intersection along 128th Street SE, west of Mill Creek. Others reported near-misses with other vehicles in that area. They said the patrol car was drifting across the center line, stopping at green lights and running red lights and stop signs.

One driver said he honked at Rockwood at an intersection, and the deputy did not open his eyes. At one point, someone also knocked on Rockwood’s window to try to wake him up.

He eventually drove away.

The collision was reported just after 7 a.m. as he drove through the intersection of Highway 527 and 132nd Street SE. Rockwood’s patrol car struck a Toyota Celica from behind as it was stopped for a light, waiting to turn. No serious injuries were reported.

Officers arrived and saw Rockwood’s patrol car apparently parked on 132nd with the emergency lights flashing. Rockwood then drove over a concrete median, with his car door partly open, before stopping again.

Rockwood’s uniform was partially unzipped, and his bulletproof vest was on wrong.

He appeared “extremely confused and disoriented and had difficulty standing,” investigators wrote in reports.

Rockwood did not have his duty weapon with him or in the patrol car. He was unable to explain where it was.

Rockwood was arrested for investigation of DUI involving narcotics. There was no evidence of alcohol being involved. Police also ruled out a diabetic reaction, which sometimes causes driver behavior similar to impairment.

After his arrest, Rockwood allegedly fell asleep during the ride to the Mill Creek police station.

His duty weapon was found in his personal vehicle, which was parked near Lynnwood.

Rockwood’s sport utility vehicle appeared to have recently been in a collision, too. Its side mirror was torn off. It had a flat tire, and dirt and grass was stuck in the bumper and undercarriage. Rockwood’s duty weapon was found in a lock box inside.

Rockwood also was investigated for hit-and-run in connection with that collision, but the reports released so far say police were unable to pinpoint where it happened. They traveled his commute routes looking for evidence of recent crashes, including the missing side mirror.

Rockwood was put on paid administrative leave after the collision.

The King County sheriff’s internal investigation is ongoing, spokeswoman Sgt. DB Gates said.

Since late April, Rockwood has been on administrative re-assignment. He has been on the force more than 19 years.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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